Dallas, Texas, resident Robert J. Maynard, Jr., a stockholder and officer of National Credit Foundation, Inc., a now-defunct "credit repair" business based in Phoenix, Arizona, has agreed under a settlement of Federal Trade Commission charges to exit the credit repair business permanently and entirely. The settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve October 1996 FTC charges that Maynard, National and three other individual defendants in the case misrepresented they could unconditionally improve consumers’ credit reports, and that they obtained consumers’ checking account information by promising it would be used for some purpose other than debiting their checking accounts and then debited the consumers’ accounts without authorization. In addition, the FTC had alleged, the infomercial the defendants used to tout their services was formatted to represent that it was a independent talk show, rather than a lengthy commercial advertisement, a deceptive practice.
Maynard is the last defendant in the case to settle the charges in the FTC court-filed complaint, which also named Brian W. Cutright, Mark F. Guimond, Hal Z. Lederman, and NCF Corp. Under the proposed consent judgment that Maynard has signed, he would be prohibited from offering, promoting or performing any service related to credit improvement. In addition, he would be prohibited from misrepresenting the purpose for which he is obtaining or requesting information from consumers about their checking, charge or credit accounts, and from debiting a consumer’s account without express verifiable authorization from the consumer. Further, any commercial or infomercial longer that 15 minutes that he creates or disseminates must state -- both at the outset and immediately before instructions for ordering any product or service are presented -- that the program is a paid advertisement for the product or service.
Based on a sworn financial statement, Maynard would not be required to pay redress, but the order would permit the Commission to reopen the matter and seek redress should the financial data prove inaccurate.
A new federal law, the Credit Repair Organization Act, which went into effect April 1, prohibits credit repair organizations from taking money from consumers before fully performing the promised services, and requires these firms to give consumers a written contract with all the terms and conditions of payment and the services to be provided. The law also gives consumers a three-day "cooling off" period, a right to cancel any agreement they sign with a credit repair organization. A new book produced by the FTC, the Better Business Bureau of Northern Illinois and the Consumer Counseling Service of Chicago titled "Getting Back in the Black" outlines legal alternatives to help consumers in credit trouble and is available free from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch (see below).
The Commission vote to approve the settlement with Maynard was 5-0. It was filed April 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, in Phoenix.
NOTE: This consent judgment is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of documents related to this case and the "Back in the Black" booklet are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202- 326-2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone record ing at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and many other documents also are available on the FTC’s web site at www.ftc.gov (no final period).
(FTC File No. X970005)
(Civil Action No. CIV-96-2374-PHX-ROS)
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