Move over FreeCreditReport.com; the battle to dupe people into paying for a credit report has moved to Craigslist.
I recently discovered this after posting to the “housing wanted” section on the online classifieds. In my post, I stated my price range and location preferences. A few days later, I received an e-mail from someone named Stephine [sic] Friedman. She simply asked, “Hi there, has anybody filled your housing needs yet?”
I replied with a negative, and interestingly enough, I received an e-mail back from her within five seconds. She said:
Hi there, nice to hear from you. Well that’s good because I have many places available for you in the area. What’s your exact price range? How soon were you looking to move? Before I show you any listings I’d like to get a feel of what you’d qualify for, we can do this by getting your credit score. Our office has a relationship with a credit report company to give our clients free credit reports, if you’d like to get one through our partner go to http://creditreport365.net/?clientID=232842 or you can get one through your own means, just please get this to me and we can get you into something. I look forward to speaking with you.
I have to admit that for a couple of seconds I thought the response was real. Plus, I wouldn’t mind some completely unsolicited help. I even visited the Web site, which redirects you to a company called SmartCredit. But the disclaimer caught my eye:
The use of the term “free” (such as in free smart credit report) may sometimes also refer to a free-trial period Membership. In some cases we may use free to denote a free SMART Action you may be entitled to during your free-trial period or during your Membership. All of our services have a monthly Membership fee after any free-trial period. If you do not wish to have our monthly Membership service and want to avoid any charges, as shown in Membership Options & Pricing below, please cancel your Membership “within” your free trial period.
Upon deeper inspection, the “free” credit report will cost you $1 for processing, and could cost you up to $30 a month if you don’t cancel your membership within the 5-day trial period. That aside, the immediate response I got after sending “Stephine” an e-mail meant something was up. So I replied in rude fashion and explained where she could put her free credit report. And that was that; I never heard back.
Until the next day. This time the message asking if I needed help finding a house was from one Autumn Harvey. He or she asked verbatim what “Stephine” asked me. I replied by stating that my credit score was 9,342, which is a pretty good score I think. I got this message back a few seconds later:
Hiii, thanks for mailing me back. I found this article on the Times website: Is working online the next gold rush http://theonlinetimes.us/finances/?showStory=jobs982594&_r=1851&hp=a524 ….and it’s very interesting. I already made some money from reading what the article had to offer 🙂 you should check it out.
What the …? The link goes to a story from the reputable Online Times, Texas Times Edition about Mary, who surprisingly lives in the same town I do, and how she makes about $5,500 a month posting links to Google. Unfortunately, I can’t learn any more about Mary or what she does because that’s the only story the Online Times has published, and comments are closed “due to spam.”
All the links within the story and around the page redirect you to a Web site run by My Search Cash. They want to sell you a “money-making success kit,” and once you’ve bought that, you can “sit back and enjoy the instant success of the Internet.” The kit costs $1.95, but if you don’t cancel your trial, you’ll be billed $49.95 A MONTH.
So basically these tricksters found a way to jam multiple hustles into one. Need a place to live? Here’s an e-mail selling you a $30 credit report and another e-mail selling you a packet of “the Internet.” Pretty slick, huh?
So, if you get any mail like the junk I just talked about, trash it and report it to Craigslist. And if you need a credit report, get if for real free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
See related: Interactive guide to understanding your credit report, “Free trail” offers can bring unwanted credit card charges, How to dispute credit report errors, A comprehensive guide to the Credit CARD Act of 2009