Any of you watching TV in the last 5 years have no doubt seen all of the "free credit report" and "free credit score" commercials. Essentially offering PAID credit monitoring services with free access to your score or report. They really aren't free... you're just getting a "trial" of the monitoring service and then can access the report and score during the trial. If you do not cancel within a certain time frame, you get hit with something like $30/month for the monitoring service.

Well I noticed recently that Ben Stein is now selling out for one of these services. Figured I'd at least check the site to see what their particular catch is. Turns out, theirs is even less "free" than the others. advertises all 3 credit scores and all 3 reports for "free." Turns out they are not quite as free as some other services. Your credit card is charged $1 processing fee during the trial of the service they offer. You have to cancel within 7 days before you get charged the full monthly fee.

I signed up for this as a test... just to see what actually happens. You do get your 3 scores, side by side by side. You do also get a comparison of the reports from each agency (though their comparison is a bit hard to follow). But there's still that $1.

Turns out... if you actually call them to cancel, you can request to have the $1 also refunded - thereby making the trial "free." If you don't call and request the $1 - they keep it. Thing is... they WANT you to call. Then you have to listen to one of their people try to get you to stay and pay for their worthless service. I can't even imagine the continual bombardment of sales pitches - as you only try to ditch the trial service you signed up for with the purpose of getting your scores and reports.

As an alternative, you are able to cancel online... but there's no way to get your $1. This is kind of good and bad - good because you don't have to call and listen to one of their drones read from some script to try to convince you that you actually do need their service (you don't). But it is bad because you are essentially sacrificing your $1 to not have to endure that pain of the phone call.

IMO, the $1 is worth not having to call. Some of you may disagree. That's fine. But just so you know up front - this may not turn out to be as "free" as you'd hope. I imagine they make a pretty hefty income just off of people like me, signing up to cancel and then not requesting the $1 back...

BTW... my scores? Let's just say that there is almost a 70 point difference between the highest and the lowest. SEVENTY points. Ridiculous. Not much I can do about it though. Just wait it out.

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