Alarmed by a rise in credit-repair scams on the Internet, state and federal regulators took aim Monday at 16 companies--including six in California--that allegedly sold bad or illegal advice to consumers struggling to recover from bankruptcy and other credit problems.
All the companies used Web sites or unsolicited junk e-mail to target individuals with credit problems, offering to sell them credit-repair "kits" that would erase their past financial problems, Federal Trade Commission officials said.
Most of the kits--costing $21.95 to $129.95--instructed consumers to create new identities by changing their name and address, using fake Social Security numbers or obtaining federal taxpayer identification numbers and passing them off as Social Security numbers.
But such actions violate state and federal laws and could put consumers at risk of criminal prosecution, regulators warned.
Representatives of the major U.S. credit bureaus say there is no legal method to remove legitimate blemishes from a credit report.