Free credit report costs Valley woman money

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PHOENIX -- It's always a wise idea to review your credit report to make sure it's accurate, but there are some do's and don'ts when it comes to getting your report.

First of all, if you just want to review your credit report never, ever pay for it.

The reason is because you can get it absolutely free on your own.

Still, there are a lot of companies out there convincing consumers to pay out of their own pockets.

You've probably seen the commercial before. It has one of the catchiest tunes around. It certainly got Linda Elder's attention.

"They're good commercials, they really are," Elder said.

The commercial advertises a Web site called FreeCreditReport.com. That sounded great to Elder because she wanted her credit report.

So, Elder ordered it, but a month later she got her credit card bill and saw a strange charge for $15.

"I looked at it and I go, 'Well, it's something that I forgot that I charged and it was $15, no big deal," she said.

But a month later, Elder got her second bill and there was that $15 charge again for a total of $30 now.

Elder discovered that Web site, the one that offers you a free credit report, actually does you give you your credit report, but only after they enroll you into their credit monitoring service for the low, low price of $15 a month.

Elder claims she knew nothing about a membership. So, in reality, Elder actually paid $30 for her "free credit report."

"Well, it really frustrated me because I feel like I've been duped," she said.

3 On Your Side should point out that on the Web site's home page, the company does indicate that it's a credit monitoring service and that by ordering a free credit report, people like Elder agree to accept the $15-a-month membership fee.

But Elder claims that she and other consumers never read that because they're too interested in getting that so-called "free" report.

Elder says remember that the next time you see that commercial with the catchy tune.

I called FreeCreditReport.com, but a representative told me they wouldn't talk to me unless I paid them and became a member first.

I told them no thanks, but in the meantime, here is how you can get your free credit report and I do mean "free."

For the only official and certified Web site authorized to give you your free credit report, click here

Remember, the federal government allows you a free report from each of the three reporting agencies once a year in an effort to cut down on identity theft.