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Catchy? Yes. Upfront and totally truthful? No. Turns out free credit report offers--like the one above--are going to have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from now on. Maybe the lyrics can be changed to "F R E E that spells free, but the report we offer isn't actually."

New rules enacted under the Credit CARD Act of 2009 require companies offering credit report services to clearly state that strings are attached to their offers, according to For example, now charges $1 for their credit report and has a disclaimer clarifying the fact that by ordering their credit report you've signed yourself up for a trial membership in their service Triple Advantage, which costs $14.95 a month until/unless you cancel it.

The ironic part is that if you just want to see what's in your credit report, there's no reason to pay for it. is a subsidiary of Experian--one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, along with Equifax and TransUnion. All three companies are already required by federal law to provide a no-strings-attached, free credit report to every American once per year. This service can be accessed through the U.S. government-approved website You can also get a free credit score calculated from TransUnion data at

Pay attention to what's in your credit report and what your credit score is. This information can make the difference between financial peace of mind and a massive headache. For more information about credit reports, look for the article Understanding Credit Reports: Maintain your reputation in the upcoming issue of brass (out May 1st).