UPDATE: BE SURE TO READ THE COMMENTS, AS THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF USEFUL AND INTERESTING INFORMATION POSTED THERE.
Today I received my CC Bill and noticed a charge from Experian (which is a credit reporting agency). I have never signed up for anything from Experian, nor have I authorized them to make any charges to my credit card.
The charge was for $19.95 and listed a number of 877-297-7790. The company name listed for the charge was EXPERIAN *CREDIT877-297-7790 CA.
American Express let me know the charge actually came from ConsumerInfo.com. When you type that address into your browser, you guessed it… FreeCreditReport.com; the landing page even has a photo of that douchebag musician from the annoying commercials.
I asked Amex why then my statement said the charge was from Experian (a “reputable” company and one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the US), and they didn’t seem to have an answer for me. Really, Amex? Any old company can use another company’s name to make (fraudulent) charges to my card, and you don’t seem to have a problem with that? Not only that, but you can use a fake name (ConsumerInfo.com) instead of your real name (FreeCreditReport.com) and then LIST your name as someone else’s company (Experian)?!
I also can’t believe Experian hasn’t done something about this. There is a company (FreeCreditReport.com) using their name for some really shady activity!
FYI: when you Google the above phone number, there are hundreds of posts reporting fraudulent charges to people’s credit cards (under the guise of legitimate credit reporting agencies). There are even reports of people calling the number, being asked for their CC number for identification (who are these people giving out their CC#’s just because someone asks for it?!), being disconnected, and then receiving more fraudulent charges (not surprisingly).
Bottom line: Freed Credit Report dot com is fraudulently (illegally) charging people’s credit cards for services they do not sign up for or authorize. Be aware, and check your credit card statements regularly. [UDPATE] In most cases, it’s not FreeCreditReport.com initiating these charges, but a third party who has obtained the credit card numbers making a purchase at FreeCreditReport.com with your card. However, if FreeCreditReport.com made ANY EFFORT WHATSOEVER to make sure these were legitimate purchases by checking the name of the person making the charge against the name on the card, or even requiring a billing zip code or card authorization number, this wouldn’t be happening. Instead, FreeCreditReport.com is (of course) happy to receive the money from these illegal charges, and your credit card is happy to receive their percentage. IMO, this is why no one wants to do anything to prevent this activity… they’re all making money! Judging from reader comments, the credit card companies are usually quick to reverse the charges, but the credit reporting companies (Experian) and FreeCreditReport.com/ConsumerInfo.com are VERY reluctant to help in any way.
If this has happened to you, call your credit card company and REPORT IT TO YOUR STATE’S ATTORNEY GENERAL. Call them (this is a link to the AG for every state in the US). Do it now. Eventually, the attention brought to this huge (and still growing) problem will surely cause someone to do something about it (instead of banks, credit reporting companies, and the Attorney General simply continuing to ignore the problem).