Is this a scam? A “cheap” credit score that costs a lot more

Carolyn Soucy thought she was getting a good deal on a credit score: Just $1 through a company called Experian Credit Monitoring.

But now that she’s seen her final credit card bill, she says she feels scammed.

On its website, Experian promotes a service called the Experian Credit Tracker that appears to be available for the low price of just $1.

But after you click on the offer, you’re eventually charged $14.95 for the membership.

The site is a little confusing. As you can see from the above screenshots, the red button clearly says “Limited Time Offer; Get your credit score and report for $1!” The yellow button only states “Get Your Credit Report and Score”. But both buttons go to the same page.

Soucy received no receipt, only a charge of $14.95 to her credit card. According to the customer representative she contacted, this non-refundable purchase was explained to her in its terms.

It is also spelled out just below the offer:

When you order your $1 Credit Report & Score, you will begin your 7-day trial membership in Experian Credit Tracker. If you don’t cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $17.95 for each month that you continue your membership. You may cancel your trial membership anytime within the trial period without charge.

The company added,

We sincerely apologize, but the credit report and/or credit score you purchased from Experian Credit Monitoring is a one-time only, transactional product and is not part of any membership.

Once the credit bureau pulled the credit report and/or credit score and made it available to you, the credit report and/or credit score became a non-refundable purchase, as stated in our Terms and Conditions.

If this “one-time only” product is not part of any membership, then why can’t she get a partial refund? Well apparently, even if you are a member you still can’t get a refund. According to the Terms and Service Agreement,

If for any reason you are not satisfied, you can cancel at any time to discontinue the membership and stop the monthly billing; however, you will not be eligible for a prorated refund of any portion of your current month’s paid membership fee.

Soucy believes this offer is bogus.

“They have not addressed my question,” she says. “I thought I was paying $1 for a service, though in the end was charged $14.95. They don’t seem to be listening.”

But is this a scam? Technically, Experian has made the required disclosures, although its site is confusing to customers like Soucy and may be leading others to make a purchase they don’t want. (Incidentally, she’s entitled to her credit report at no charge through this site, so she may have spent the money for nothing.)

But from a customer-service perspective, this Experian offer leaves a lot to be desired. Soucy feels duped — and rightfully so.

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