Jen Jorczak

Resolve to be suspicious and read the fine print

Filed By Jen Jorczak | January 05, 2008 11:50 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Media
Tags: Bil Browning, class warfare, Federal Trade Commission, sexism, Suze Orman

So, it's a new year, and like many people, I've been thinking about things I could be doing better in my life--I won't go as far as to say I've made resolutions because mine always seem doomed to fail, but I do intend to try a few positive changes. Baby steps, if you will. Last year, I got a gym membership. This year, I will attempt to actually use it. Last year, we started paying bills online (no more late fees!); this year, we want to pay down the credit cards and start saving.

So it was funny when Bil emailed me to suggest I post about the freecreditreport.com commercial where a cute boy sings a catchy tune about his wife's hidden debt.

See, Bil expected me to be hopping mad about the commerical, which I am, but for entirely different reasons. Bil's take:

I just saw it as spectacularly sexist. The man is reduced to poverty by that darn woman. I'll bet she overspent on shopping for bon-bons and new dresses. I mean, he wouldn't have married her if he'd only known that she had no dowry!

My partner was quick to point out that the cute boy is a dumbass for marrying anyone without discussing finances first, but the ad didn't strike either of us as sexist. Perhaps it was because we saw the other ad first, the one where the same cute boy sings a catchy tune about having to work as a waiter because his identity was stolen (which is catchy, but--why would having your identity stolen force you into a job you didn't like??), that the ads both struck me as classist.

One says that bad credit will doom you to an unfulfilling job/ life; the other definitely, blatantly says that people with bad credit are unworthy and unlovable.

In a country that offers its citizens no financial education in its public schools, who would that leave you to love? The business of loan sharking has gone corporate, with no protection against predatory mortgages, check cashing places, "rent-to-own" furniture and other scams but your own (uneducated, non-savvy) wits.

That is what pissed me off, especially coming as it does from a company that's trying to prey on these same people who are only trying to check their credit and put their financial house in order. See, if you actually go to freecreditreport.com, you'll want to make sure you read the fine print:

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don't cancel your membership within the 30-day trial period, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership.

In other words, your credit report isn't really free. At least, not when you try to get it that way. I checked in with every lesbian's favorite financial guru, Suze Orman, who says:

Thanks to a new federal regulation, the big three credit bureaus-Equifax, Experian and TransUnion-now must give each of us a free credit report every year.... But as some consumers have already found out, free isn't necessarily free. The Federal Trade Commission recently gave a major slap on the hand to one of the credit bureaus which was slyly signing consumers up for a costly "credit monitoring" program when they requested their free credit report....

Pay attention very carefully to what I am about to tell you: if you want to get your credit reports via the web, the only site you are to go to is annualcreditreport.com. Please be very very careful; there are other websites with similar names, but they are not to be trusted. The annualcreditreport.com website is maintained by the FTC. You can also get your free credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228.

The "slap on the wrist" she mentions went to Experian, which runs freecreditreport.com. It's likely the reason why the "important information" I cited above is now on the main page of their website, rather than buried in their privacy policy or something, where it was probably hidden before their wristslap.

Which proves once again that you're better off keeping your fine-toothed comb handy at all times. I'd keep ranting, but I have to get to the gym.


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Great information Jen. I got steered to Experian's site when I tried to get a copy of my credit report several months back because I used the word "free" in my search like most people would. I can't remember, but the site Suze recommends probably didn't even show up on the first page of results.

Also, if you are a member of a Credit Union, you can ask them. Many will provide a yearly copy of your credit report as part of their member benefits.

Very good post Jen..

I do have to take issue with one
thing you have said..

When i was in High school the school did
offer an elective class that rolled up
several real world economic issues all into
one..
That was Business Law.
I took the class knowing it would be useful.
As a matter of fact it was and a reasonably easy "A".

The Education system is broken in this country.
With "Everyone left behind" and other bad practices that leave students dumbed down....
(this rant is for another time)

I made the mastake of giving my checkbook my best friend whom i married and was Bi-Polar..
Yes we set ground rules however.....
When love impeared judgment is a common ingreadant in many a personal disaster...

Take care
Sue

I still think that the ad is incredibly sexist too! LOL

But I can completely see how classist the ad is too. In fact, Jerame's first words when I complained about the ad to him in front of our TV was, "If you don't have credit you're not worthy of love?"

The worst part is that now I'm going to have that damn "Bad credit report dot com" jingle stuck in my head all day. LOL

Jen Jorczak Jen Jorczak | January 6, 2008 12:25 PM

Sue: you were lucky to have such a useful class in HS. Would that everyone did.

Bil: I know! dumb message, yet really catchy tune!