How Credit Bureaus Trick You into Buying Credit Monitoring Services

Digital dark patterns light the way for deception and manipulation

Andy Spears
3 min readApr 14, 2022


Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

If you’ve ever been tempted to purchase a credit monitoring service from one of the three major credit bureaus, don’t. If you already have this service, chances are the company that sold it used something called “digital dark patterns” to lure you into the purchase.

The bottom line: You can monitor your credit for free.

Credit bureaus know this, but they want to make money from consumer fear of fraud. So, these agencies use digital tricks to sell products consumers often don’t want and definitely do not need.

The consumer protection attorneys at Finn Law Group explain more about digital dark patterns and a recent legal action involving TransUnion, one of the three major bureaus.

Credit Reporting Agencies: Digital Dark Patterns | What You Should Know (

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed a lawsuit against one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States. The CFPB alleges that Transunion used digital dark patterns — design and user interface elements created to manipulate users into taking a desired action — to lure consumers into enrolling in its services.

Here’s how Finn Law describes digital dark patterns:

A digital dark pattern is a user interface design that is intended to deceive or mislead users into taking an action that they would not otherwise take, such as buying a product or signing up for a subscription service. Dark patterns are often used in online advertising and marketing, and have been criticized for being unethical and manipulative. An example of a dark pattern is a fake “cancel” button that takes the user to a page that upsells them on a more expensive product.

Credit Monitoring is a Service Consumers Don’t Need



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .