According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the three credit reporting agencies are blocking referral links to the Annual Credit Report website they created to conform to the new federal law giving consumers the right to an annual free credit report:
Although interest in credit reports may be high, consumers will face some frustration when they try to access the information using the Internet.
The credit reporting agencies have blocked referral links to the Web site, www.annualcreditreport.com.
That means clicking on the Web address from other sites – such as those in online media articles – will not lead to the site, according to Norma Garcia, senior attorney for the Consumers Union West Coast Office in San Francisco.
Consumers Union has not determined why the agencies blocked referrals, and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the matter.
Representatives of the three credit agencies could not be reached for comment.
Because of the block on referral links, the number of Internet hits received by the credit report site is low. That, in turn, gives it a low ranking by search engines such as Google, where the site does not pop up on a search for “free credit reports” until the fourth page of links.
If you tried to click on the above link, you get this screen:
For security purposes, http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com can be accessed by typing the web address “www.annualcreditreport.com”, or from links from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), Equifax (www.equifax.com), Experian (www.experian.com) and TransUnion (www.transunion.com) websites.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only web source authorized by all three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies from which free annual credit file disclosures can be requested.
This is amazing – federal law requires these companies to provide free reports to the public, but they build barriers to prevent public access to the site. What kind of “security purposes” exist that preventing consumers from linking to the site directly from a news article (or this blog) would solve?
UPDATE: Emergent Chaos has this advice:
I suggest you call or write, rather than applying online, to make them spend the money on printing and mailing your report. It’s only a little, but every penny comes out of the profit they make gossiping about you.
UPDATE: (02.28.2005) It now appears that they’re no longer blocking referrals. Clicking the link takes you directly to the website. Has there been any official acknolwedgement of this?