The Federal Trade Commission has charged seven related companies with violating federal law by falsely promising to remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, even information that is accurate and current, and by charging an up-front fee and failing to provide written disclosures. The agency seeks to make them stop the violations and pay restitution to consumers.
According to the FTC, the defendants charge consumers up to $2,000, including $300 in advance, promising to improve credit scores by removing information such as late payments, charge-offs, collections, inquiries, delinquencies, judgments, and accounts discharged in bankruptcy. Their promotions include an ad on a third-party Web site stating, “100% Guarantee to raise your credit score!” Transcripts from telephone calls with consumers include statements such as, “I can’t tell you much because I’ll be giving you my trade secrets, but I can definitely guarantee that we’ll take care of anything that’s derogatory on her credit report. It’s all legal.”
In addition to facing deceptive marketing charges under the FTC Act, the defendants are charged with violating the Credit Repair Organizations Act by misrepresenting their services; charging in advance for credit repair services; and failing to provide consumers with written contracts and other materials that contain written disclosures required by law or deviating from the required wording for the disclosures.
The defendants are United Credit Adjusters Inc., doing business as United Credit Adjustors and UCA; United Credit Adjustors Inc., d/b/a United Credit Adjusters and UCA; United Counseling Association Inc., d/b/a UCA; Bankruptcy Masters Corp., National Bankruptcy Services Corp., Federal Debt Solutions Ltd., United Money Tree Inc., and Ahron E. Henoch, Ezra Rishty, and Gerald Serino, also known as Jerry Serino. The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The FTC advises that only time, a conscious effort, and a personal debt repayment plan can improve your credit report. The first step is to learn what information is in your creditreport. If you find errors or mistakes, federal law gives you the right to have them corrected – free of charge. Federal law requires that the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months, if you ask for it. To order your free report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete and mail the Annual Credit Report Request Form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Credit repair information is available in “Credit Repair: Self-Help May Be Best,” at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(United Credit Adjusters)
(FTC File No. 0823211)