An operator who charged consumers for services he did not deliver and misrepresented customers’ credit worthiness to the credit reporting agencies has been banned for life from operating a credit repair business. Settlement of the charges also bars further violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), and requires the defendant to pay $100,000 in civil penalties.
In 1999, Florida Attorney Jack Schrold settled charges that he violated the FTC Act and CROA by making deceptive claims about improving consumers’ credit reports and requiring advance payment for credit repair services. The court order settling these accusations prohibited Schrold from saying he could improve substantially consumers’ credit reports by removing accurate, but negative, information that was verifiable and not obsolete, making false claims about the services he sold, charging consumers before credit repair services were finished, and violating CROA.
In 2004, at the FTC’s request, the Department of Justice initiated civil contempt proceedings against Schrold, alleging that he was violating the 1999 order. Schrold agreed to settle the contempt allegations, and as a result of that settlement the court has entered a modified order against him.
The court order announced today requires Schrold to pay $100,000 in civil penalties and permanently bars him from:
- advertising, marketing, or selling any credit repair service, or assisting others to do so;
- violating the FTC Act by representing directly or by implication that he is able to improve substantially consumers’ credit reports by removing negative information from them where such information is accurate, verifiable, and not obsolete; and
- violating CROA.
The modified order also contains standard recordkeeping provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring Schrold’s compliance.
Consumers should know that nothing you can do – or pay someone to do – can legally remove negative information that is accurate, verifiable, and not obsolete from your credit report. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a plan to repay your bills will improve your credit record. If your credit reports contain inaccurate or incomplete information, however, you do have the right to have that information corrected. This is something you can do yourself. For information on disputing credit report errors and other information about your consumer credit rights, please visit the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov or call the 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
The Commission vote approving the filing of the modified order was 5-0. The modified stipulated judgment and order for permanent injunction and civil penalties was filed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation, at the request of the FTC, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. It was entered by the court on April 22, 2005. The matter was handled by the FTC’s Midwest Region.
Copies of the modified stipulated judgment and order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC Matter No. X-980045; Civil Action No. 98-6212 CIV-ZLOCH/SELTZER)
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