Richard Mitchell has a problem with a company called ScoreSense. A big problem.

ScoreSense provides a credit score, identity protection and credit monitoring service. It offers its subscription for a low introductory rate — free, which includes an initial credit report. When Mitchell responded to an ad through an online brokerage firm, he was charged just $1.

Then he received his credit card bill.

ScoreSense had billed him $29.95.

That didn’t sit well with Mitchell, who had expected free to actually mean free.

He writes,

I disputed the charge with ScoreSense but they denied it by saying “they sent me a welcoming e-mail and in it they quoted I had 7 days to cancel or else I would be charged $29.95 monthly.

First, they never sent me a welcoming e-mail. If they had I would have cancelled their program.

And second, he says he never received his “free” report.

“The bottom line: ScoreSense preys on customers to get their money and rejects any and all disputes to return the money,” he says.

He wants to know — is this a scam?

Well, let’s break this down. ScoreSense seems to have a good answer for the missing email. Check out the frequently asked questions section of its site.

Within 24 hours after signing up with ScoreSense, you should receive a Welcome e-mail containing important membership information. If you did not receive this important e-mail, check your Spam folder and make sure to add [email protected] to your address book. Also visit your account page to ensure we have your correct address on file.

Question is, was its pricing disclosed prominently on its site?

Not really. Even when I try to sign up for the service, it doesn’t prominently display its rates. (Even clicking on its terms and conditions doesn’t reveal the price.)

That makes me uncomfortable.

ScoreSense gets plenty of complaints from people who feel they were snookered into signing up.

The Federal Trade Commission even warns against “free” credit report companies. (By the way, here’s how to get a real free report.)

So, to answer Mitchell, this may technically be a legal operation, but its tactics are questionable.

(Photo: Red/Flickr)