If you are required to provide a credit card number to receive a free offer, make 100% sure you understand the terms of the offer. Millions of consumers have signed up for free credit reports and many did not realize they were going to be charged $12.95 per month or more for a monitoring service after the first “free” month. Furthermore, most consumers do not realize that they are entitled to a free report from all three major credit bureaus once a year. The Federal Trade Commission has ordered Experian and its Consumerinfo.com subsidiary to cough up nearly $1 million in ill-gotten gains for deceptively marketing free credit reports via www.freecreditreport.com, www.consumerinfo.com, and other media. Experian says it cleaned up its act about two years ago by clearly disclosing all the “fine print” of the offer. Consumers should be aware that under federal law they are entitled free credit reports each year. This program began in western states on December 1, 2004, and will cover all U.S. consumers by September 1, 2005. Consumers can get their free reports by phone, mail, or at one authorized Web site, “www.annualcreditreport.com”:www.annualcreditreport.com.