TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Credit Card Act began in February, but more consumer protection is on the way. New rules Friday will keep credit companies on the straight and narrow when it comes to advertising.
It's advertising at its best if funny costumes and a jingle don't work... the word free grabs you.
"Nobody gives you anything for nothing these days," said Kathy McLelland.
Maybe. But, Sherry Kerby was willing to take a chance for a credit report.
"I've gone in to something on the internet where it says free, but if you read the small print..." said Kerby.
The fine print says something far from it. We followed the commercial to the website and clicked on the offer on the home page. For step one, an email address and password is all you need. By step two, though, the free claim seems pretty false. A box at the top asks for your social security number and at the end, a box for your credit card number...hardly free.
"The advertising is misleading," said Michelle Mills, with the Better Business Bureau, "They're saying it's free when it's not really free...They end up being locked into this contract and they end up paying hundreds of dollars by the time you're done with it."
Mills says the ads on TV and online will soon be to a different tune.
"They'll no longer be able to do their advertising the way they have been doing it," she said.
Starting April 2nd, the Credit Card Act requires clear disclosures online. If it is anything but free, consumers will see a bold notification across the top of the page.
"The only authorized place to get a free credit report by law is www.annualcreditreport.com," said Mills.
The site gives you one free report a year from each agency and is the only site government approved. Even the main credit agencies, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax can send you down the wrong path.
"There's no free ride," said Kerby. "Somebody pays for it somewhere."
By law you are always eligible for one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting agencies. To request your Equifax, Experian or Transunion score just go www.annualcreditreport.com.