For anyone looking to secure a loan for a major investment, from buying property to starting a business, having a good credit score can be vital. In order to get a grasp on their credit, many consumers turn to credit reporting services online.
Unfortunately, as with so many businesses operating online, some of these “free” credit score companies are actually anything but, as Alabama’s WBRC Fox 6 reports. But there’s a silver lining today: The FTC is helping to return approximately $20 million to consumers scammed by one such “free” credit report offer.
According to the FTC, the company in question, One Technologies, offered supposedly free credit reports through “at least 50 websites, including FreeScore360.com, FreeScoreOnline.com and ScoreSense.com.” But when consumers tried to access their free credit scores using these sites, they were merely “enrolled in credit monitoring programs and charged monthly fees” — up to $29.95 a month – “without their consent,” as the FTC explained in a press release.
The FTC, along with state partners in Illinois and Ohio, sued One Technologies; as settlement, the company agreed to pay money to provide partial refunds.
As WBRC reports, “the amount of each check that will be mailed to affected consumers will vary based on how much each person lost.” Check values range from $90 to $150, and more than 145,000 consumers will be getting reimbursements in the mail. The checks began shipping in late September, according to the FTC.
“The FTC previously mailed claim forms to people who were charged for these credit monitoring programs,” explains Aditi Jhaveri, a consumer education specialist for the FTC. “To get a refund, they had to return their claim form before the deadline.”
Consumers who receive a refund check have 60 days to deposit or cash it, according to the FTC.
This is just another example of the power that our consumer protection agencies and consumer advocates have against the many duplicitous organizations trying to pull one over on unsuspecting consumers. For more on the case, we encourage you to read this great blog post from the FTC.