There are good guys. There are bad guys. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Let's take a quick look at all of those opportunities to get a "FREE CREDIT REPORT."

First, nobody gives anything away for free, unless there is at least the promise of something in return.

If you "win" a "free" vacation, what it costs you is your time -- sitting in a cushy seat and having a high-pressure salesman convince you beyond all reasonable doubt that you simply must become the owner of a vacation time share condominium in Bora Bora.

Consumers PAY for free credit reports in one of two ways:

The agency may be selling your name and contact information based upon your credit score. If your score was good, you get bombarded with everything from credit card offers to new car advertising to those magic calls telling you that you won that FREE vacation we mentioned above. Remember, your credit report may offer some great information about your buying habits and how much credit you have available. If a company knows that you have enough credit to buy an expensive tag item, they will PAY for your name and contact information.

If you realize it or not, those FREE places that sell your contact information are the GOOD guys in the free credit report industry. At least comparatively. The BAD guys are only interested in ... IDENTITY THEFT. And you, Joe, have just handed them your name and social security number on a silver platter.

Remember. Nothing is FREE. So before you agree to any FREE service or give-away, know exactly who is giving you this "gift" and exactly what the real price tag is.

Fight Fraud America