What happened to the “Free Credit Report” band?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

free credit report bandWell I was shoppin’ for a new car, which one’s me?
A cool convertible or an SUV?
Too bad I didn’t know my credit was whack,
Cuz’ now I’m drivin’ off the lot in a used subcompact.

Whether you loved ‘em or hated ‘em, you have got to admit its a bit unusual not hearing these jingles on the TV anymore. So what happened to the FreeCreditReport.com band? What was the strategic reasoning for Experian to fire and replace them with the new free credit score band?

FreeCreditReport.com – the jig is up
Experian’s FreeCreditReport.com has had an interesting history, to say the least. In 2005 they were sued by the FTC for deceptive advertising. The settlement? Only $950,000, but it wasn’t even a cash fine. Rather, the company only had to provide $950,000 worth of free credit monitoring to those that fell victim. This was basically a drop in the bucket, considering the site’s annual marketing budget was reportedly $72M at the time. There were a multitude of other federal and state investigations into their deceptive practices. Of course to go along with this was a slew of negative publicity for the website (like an investigation by MSNBC reportedly calling it an outright “scam”).

But FreeCreditReport.com wasn’t about the let the feds and bad press poop the party. The solution? Come out with a “band” to sing obnoxiously cute and catchy tunes to hawk the website. So in October 2007 they began their Free Credit Report band commercials, lead by a French-Canadian actor named Eric Violette  (who, by the way, has a very strong accent, which is why his singing was dubbed by a voice-over). And so it started…

Thanks to the successful Free Credit Report band commercials, the alleged scam became so widespread, that when the Credit Card Reform act of 2009 was passed, lawmakers put in specific language to address the problem. So consumers don’t confuse FreeCreditReport.com with AnnualCreditReport.com (the truly free once-a-year report), now this specific language had to be added to their commercials:

“This is not the free credit report provided for by Federal law.”

To make it even more clear, the Credit Card Reform Act called for the FTC to create new rules which force advertisers to say that AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place for a free credit report. Now Mr. Voilette would have to sing something like:

Go to FreeCreditReport.coooom
But it’s not the free credit report provided by federal law
For that go to AnnualCreditReport.com
The only place for you to get a free credit report!

Hmm… I don’t think that would work very well! So it was time for Experian to find a new angle…

FreeCreditScore.com – history repeats itself?
So earlier this year, FreeCreditScore.com ran commercials searching for a “band” and in early August that the winner was announced – The Victorious Secrets (which allegedly is an actual real band from Detroit). What they’re hawking for FreeCreditScore.com is basically the same bait ‘n switch snake oil FreeCreditReport.com was peddling. The difference is that now your “free” credit score is included.

Now something I haven’t heard the media bring up yet is whether FreeCreditScore.com will face the same demise as their predecessor in the future. Why do I say this? As part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – passed in July – free credit scores will need to be provided to consumers in certain situations. In a nutshell, anytime you are denied credit or hit with unfavorable lending terms, you will soon receive a free copy of your credit score that was used in making that decision. This is done automatically. Also there is no annual cap – meaning if you face adverse actions several times in a given year, each time your credit score must be provided. This law will be applicable to all credit reporting agencies.

Does this mean that down the road, the fed will pass a similar law for sites like FreeCreditScore.com, forcing them to say a disclosure so consumers aren’t confused? And although not everyone faces adverse credit decisions, what happens if later on we are given free access to our credit score one per year (like AnnualCreditReport.com giving us access once per year for credit reports). For years there have been lawmakers trying to give us just that (i.e. 2003 FACT Act). If we are ever truly given free annual access to scores, I could definitely see the government cracking down on FreeCreditScore.com in the exact same way as its predecessor.
Originally written 1/2011

56 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Ravi September 28, 2013 at 10:01PM

    Eric is accomplished classical guitarist. They make enjoyable advertising. I like all of their ads.

  2. MarkDavid May 16, 2013 at 3:49PM

    Every “band member” from either looks like a smug creep or a pedophile.
    Buy some Q-tips you losers, they go in your ears.
    Die already.

  3. Candy September 4, 2012 at 7:41PM

    I’m so happy Eric and his band are back on tv. I loved every one of the jingles they did. My favorite was the one at the renaissance fair . I enjoy seeing all the members of this band they are all cute,and fun to watch.

  4. lauren August 3, 2012 at 10:56PM

    I am so happy you brought back the old band…just love that cutie Erick!

  5. Lynn O August 1, 2012 at 3:03PM

    Really glad to have the old band back, My kids use to skip around the house singing the songs with the new band they just sit there. Now they are dancing around again. Even the husband is singing again. Great choice and none too soon.

  6. Christina July 26, 2012 at 6:16PM

    Thank you for bringing the original guys back. These guys are like the kid next door and his silly friends…..love these guys…so charismatic. The other guys were bland and had no personality. I’m back to watching your commercials again.

    • Crystal August 23, 2012 at 8:22AM

      Its funny that you describe them as guys next door because I went to highschool with them:) I LOVVVVVEEE seeing them back on TV, and am so happy for them! I still cant believe we’re from the same small town

  7. joe schmoo July 23, 2012 at 12:26PM

    I don’t know why I’m so happy about their return, but I am happy about it. I like those guys and the characters that got created and stayed in the commercials. It was funny stuff. The replacement band was pretty bad, they looked sad lol. It’s possible that they were sad because they knew 90% of us wanted Eric and the band back. Yes the boys are broke, drive bad cars, chicks laugh at them, and rap singers use them as waiters still they never seem defeated. They just shake their heads an keep on keeping on, always knowing no matter who hassles them they will stick together.

  8. Buseybee July 22, 2012 at 12:46PM

    I am SO GLAD the original “cute” guy and band are back! I’m already singing along with them again! Nothing against the new guys you brought in but there’s no comparison to the original! They’re great! Much better, I missed them! Good move!

  9. MandyLee July 22, 2012 at 12:44PM

    I love this band they are awesome and I hated it when they put a differnt band on there cause they were not any where near as good as the first, I was so glad to see them back YAY

  10. Zack Armstrong July 12, 2012 at 4:02PM

    I e-mailed them when they replaced the band. They said since they changed the name they needed a new band. So cool the old band is back!

  11. ~Chantal~Rose~ July 11, 2012 at 12:18AM

    Wow it is shocking to see the lack of educated people leaving stupid comments about how they loved the first band. Ummmmm people am I the only one that actually read the article. ((( ”FreeCreditReport.com wasn’t about the let the feds and bad press poop the party. The solution? Come out with a “band” to sing obnoxiously cute and catchy tunes to hawk the website. So in October 2007 they began their Free Credit Report band commercials, lead by a French-Canadian actor named Eric Violette (who, by the way, has a very strong accent, which is why his singing was dubbed by a voice-over” )))) They are not real, and are scaming the public. People do yourselves a favor and read the article, you might just learn something that has nothing to do with fake pop culture.

    • somebody September 18, 2012 at 8:28PM

      I totally agree with you! At least the new band was actually singing and not mouthing along to someone else.

  12. Francine July 7, 2012 at 2:13AM

    Totally true, the original guys are totally waaaay hotter <3

  13. Andrea Nicole July 6, 2012 at 6:48PM

    I don’t understand what all the hubbub was about or why the first band was fired. I’m.just glad they’re back. By the way…what are the others names and does their band have a name. Lastly, when can I hear Eric’s sexy French-Canadian accent? FCS.com people. Do yourselves a favor and don’t let these adorable guys get away twice. – Andrea Nicole, San Francisco, CA.

  14. Geo July 5, 2012 at 8:53PM

    So glad to see the guys back. Got a tingle up my leg when I saw them again :)

  15. leanne July 1, 2012 at 9:52PM

    yayayay! SO glad to see old band back!

  16. brenda branscom July 1, 2012 at 4:59PM

    I’m so glad you guys are back, yeah!!!!

  17. Janine June 30, 2012 at 5:36PM

    Thank GOD the boys are back. I hated that other band, none of them were as cute as the originals. Ah, life is good again. :)

  18. Ashley June 28, 2012 at 10:05AM

    Woohoo!! The Old band is back!!!! They soo freakin rule

    The other guys sucked bad so did there jingles. None were catchy I can’t even remember one.

    What the?? What the?? Are you seein this? I love it!! Haha

    • Barbie July 1, 2012 at 5:52PM

      I know, right? I never got over them being replaced…until now!

  19. Olivia June 24, 2012 at 8:12PM

    Glad to see the old band back… it was disappointing when they were gone…

  20. addie June 24, 2012 at 12:13PM

    so glad the original band is back! wise choice

  21. Doree June 23, 2012 at 4:57AM

    Yay old band is back!!! Love it!

  22. Harold June 22, 2012 at 4:50PM

    Just When i began to enjoy the New Band (loved their Beach Commercial), they bring back the Old Band… Glad see them return, perhaps they’ll use both

  23. Jim June 19, 2012 at 5:01AM

    The original “band” has returned (the one that includes Eric).

  24. randy anglin May 22, 2012 at 11:03AM

    It is just like TIM MCGRAW getting rid of his band this past year and now he has all these studio guys while he is on tour with Kenny Chesney…..just because he wants to kick Kenny’s ass on stage! No one seems to even notice that Tim has gotten rid of all the guys that have been with him for 22 years……….oh he did keep Deano…Denny…and Bobby…that’s right!

    • dave and annie September 27, 2013 at 4:47PM

      Make up your mind on the reason some of the old band were let go. The new band is great. You make it sound as if a studio performer is second class. Two sides to every story and you don’t know everything that went on.

  25. Barbara Sondheimer May 9, 2012 at 11:06AM

    The law was not really the issue I think here. Its was an excuse to get rid of the old band who wanted more money.

    The reason I make this assumption is because if it was really about the law, they would just change the way the message said instead of getting rid of the original band. Why did they have to get rid of the original band because of the law. Think about it. They’re still using a “band” and very similar style of jingles.

    What I remember reading about this was that the band was asking for too much money and that’s why they were replaced with this new band. Now that makes more sense, doesn’t it. The law thing was just an excuse to try and appease the customers and public who really liked the original band and commercials.

    As it is, I noticed that they are using the original singers face on the front of their website so what they are saying about the law makes no sense.

  26. Bre April 30, 2012 at 5:18AM

    I love the old band love their stories. Use both groups, but please bring back the old band.

  27. Juan Wysong April 23, 2012 at 7:54PM

    They need to get rid of these new jokers. I literally change the station every time these guys come on t.v. How are you advertising anything when nobody wants to see these horrendous commercials with even worse people doing the advertising. The old band had great jingles and style. Fire these new clowns and bring the old band back. Their songs actually made sense, all of them!

  28. Deby Miller April 13, 2012 at 3:33PM

    I believe they should have took a poll on whether or not to keep the old band. Whether he could sing or not, he was liked by all. Maybe you should have let him try to sing before letting him go — don’t believe he had anything to do with all that stuff. The reason why things were changed, the commercials were humorous before now nobody even cares. Maybe whoever had the idea to change bands is the one who should have been let go (FIRED). Just saying.

  29. Myles March 26, 2012 at 6:25PM

    I really hate the new band and want the old one. What happened to the old band?

  30. joe March 23, 2012 at 8:41AM

    Original non-band: kinda cute “singer” (I guess the girls find him cute, I just thought he was annoying) who made no effort to even pretend he was playing guitar (check out his left hand, it just grabs the guitar neck while he mugs for the camera), ridiculous scenarios.

    New non-band: yeah, I know they won a contest, but if they’re the best band who entered that contest, I hope I never see any of the losers! These guys could empty a club faster than a dead skunk. The “singer” is particularly annoying, especially when he does the “airport rap” while the “band” pretends to play their guitars despite the fact that the “rap” features no instruments other than drums (probably a drum machine, just like real rap). A terrible gimmick from a terrible company. For those of you who don’t know, you can get a REAL FREE credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com so you don’t need these losers or their fake bands.

  31. bob47 March 16, 2012 at 5:08PM

    The old band had much better acting, loved the pirate outfits too. The new band is so “Droll”. I don’t bother watching the commercials, just hit “mute”.

  32. Terry March 16, 2012 at 1:39PM

    reminds me of the “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” guy.

  33. Nanci614 March 12, 2012 at 4:57PM

    I hate this new band so much I decided to look around online to see what other people thought. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the new band is rotten. I really miss Eric – he is so darn cute and funny that I smiled every time I saw him.

    • Francine July 7, 2012 at 2:18AM

      I miss the guys too, so totally glad they are back :) WOOHOO!

  34. deadman walking March 6, 2012 at 10:33AM

    this new band is really bad, I cant quite get what the look is they are going for. It’s sort of a bad hair, no charisma old guy look. The drummer looks more like hes taking a dump rather than playing drums, and what is on his head, looks like a dead squirrel or something at a distance. The lead singer with the retro hippy doo looks… sad, kind of like he just realized how bad they suck.

  35. Hondo February 21, 2012 at 7:40PM

    Bring back Eric!!! New band sucks!!!! N

  36. Joshua Thomas February 13, 2012 at 11:45PM

    Everyone should have known that it was scam anyway. However, I do like the other band better than new one.

  37. joan February 11, 2012 at 5:26PM

    I hate the new band. They really suck. They should get the old ones back.

    • dparker February 16, 2012 at 2:02PM

      I find the new band the ugliest and stupidest ever get the cute guy back I don’t care if he can’t really sing he is as cute as a button

  38. Jerri Deacon January 21, 2012 at 8:26AM

    I agree with Shirl Briden. The question as to why the band was fired was not answered. ????

    • CreditCardGuru January 21, 2012 at 12:22PM

      Jerri and Shirl-

      If you didn’t catch what I said above… in a nutshell, marketing free credit reports is nearly impossible now. For that reason, they have had to re-brand with their new “free” credit score site, instead. As part of the re-branding, naturally that has involved a new band. I would imagine if they had continued to use the old band, it would confuse people since they were so heavily synonymous with credit reports rather than scores.

      • Joshua Thomas February 13, 2012 at 11:43PM

        Well, said my friend.

  39. Shirl Briden September 17, 2011 at 3:20PM

    My husband and I loved Eric’s band. You never answered the question as to why it was necessary to change bands? Eric demanded your attention. Please answer this question and also tell us what he is doing now.

  40. Dennis Ousley must be an “incredibly stupid person” September 9, 2011 at 5:31AM

    @Dennis Ousley

    It’s the ads on TV that are a scam. It should be considered blatant false advertising without the overt disclosure of the ‘non-free’ part of it.

    But apparently you think advertising shouldn’t be regulated, at least online. In that way, it’s increasingly predatory nature will trick more ‘incredibly stupid people’, as you so eloquently put it, into sinking their money into some specious product or service. But that’s perfectly okay, according to you; in fact, you’d argue those people truly ‘deserve’ it for being so inordinately retarded.

  41. Dennis Ousley July 24, 2011 at 5:39PM

    There is no such thing as a internet scam only incredibly stupid people.

  42. Jane Pettit July 23, 2011 at 11:13AM

    Hate the new band. Would have visited the website before but this new band makes me hate the phrase freecredit report.com!!! Lose them!

  43. Taylor March 23, 2011 at 4:30PM

    Well I’m shopping for a new car, which one’s me? A cool convertible or an SUV. Too bad I didn’t know my credit was whack So I’m driving off the lot in a used sub-compact.

  44. Drew January 24, 2011 at 9:12AM

    Free Credit Forever!

  45. peggy November 14, 2010 at 4:01AM

    Ok but why change bands just because you have to change how you say it? Where did the other guys go?

  46. cherilyn October 30, 2010 at 6:39PM

    I hate the fact that these people continues to state that you can attain your credit report for free, when in all actuality you have to signe up for a membership. I know people who have signed up, get their report, then call the Free Credit Report.com to cancel their subscription. They say that is important that you this information to make sure that your not getting husseled, but their the ones doing all the hussling!

  47. CreditCardGuru October 3, 2010 at 1:17PM

    Hi Heather,

    Absolutely – it would be a great idea for all of us to write to our representatives in the Senate and Congress, asking them to advocate such a bill. To the best of my knowledge, at the moment there is not a specific committee pushing for this, but perhaps if enough constituents voice their opinion that will change.

    Regarding Eric Violette’s English – you are absolutely correct. I apologize for any confusion caused by the way I wrote that sentence; I did not mean to infer he didn’t speak English. Thank you for bringing that to my attention – I revised that sentence.

    -CreditCardGuru

  48. Heather Jamieson October 3, 2010 at 12:23PM

    How do we, as members of the general public, advocate for passage of an Act which will give consumers free access to the credit reports and credit scores which are being compiled by the three major credit repositories: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion? Do you recommend contacting our Congressional representatives, or is there a specific committee pushing for this reform?

    And – just for the record – Eric Violette is fluent in English. His voice was dubbed over to conceal a decidedly strong French-Canadian accent.

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