A Colorado-based credit repair company and its owner have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges they misled consumers with promises to “drastically and immediately” improve credit scores and increase access to lower rates on mortgages.
In its complaint against the operators of BoostMyScore.net (BMS), the FTC alleges that the defendants guaranteed consumers that, in exchange for fees ranging from $325 to $4,000, they could “piggyback” on unrelated consumers’ good credit, artificially inflating their own credit score in the process.
“Good credit isn’t for sale,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This company charged people thousands of dollars based on hollow promises that ‘piggybacking’ on a stranger’s good credit would raise their credit score or help them get a mortgage.”
In piggybacking, a consumer pays to be listed on another person’s well-maintained credit account, ostensibly receiving the benefit of the good account on their own credit even though they can’t access the account. In this case, the FTC alleges, defendants charged struggling consumers steep, illegal fees and made unsupported promises about how piggybacking would pave the way to new credit, including mortgages and other loan products.
According to the complaint, BMS made unwarranted promises in various advertisements that consumers’ credit scores would increase by anywhere from 100 to 120 points over two to six weeks. BMS also allegedly charged consumers upfront for the credit repair services they offered, which is illegal under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the FTC Act, CROA, and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
Under the terms of the proposed settlement with the FTC that will soon be filed with the court, BoostMyScore, LLC, BMS, Inc., and William O. Airy will be prohibited from selling fake access to another consumer’s credit as an authorized user and from collecting advance fees for credit repair services, as well as other violations of CROA. They will also be prohibited from misrepresenting a product or service as being legal, as well as from misrepresenting the terms of a refund or return policy. The defendants also will be banned from further violations of the TSR. The settlement also includes a monetary judgment of $6,630,678, which will be partially suspended upon payment of $64,863 due to the defendants’ inability to pay. Should the defendants be found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the full judgment would be immediately payable.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and stipulated final order was 5-0. The FTC filed the complaint and final order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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