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Scam Watch

June 01, 2008|David Colker

The pitch: "Our program offers the ability to repair, restore or establish your credit!"

The scam: Not only did the Home Buyers Network, Good Credit Co. and GoodCredit.com promise in their ads to repair credit, they also said they could boost credit scores and erase "derogatory items" from credit reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The North Carolina businesses, owned by Home Buyers Consulting Network Inc., typically charged an initial fee of at least $99 for these credit services, plus monthly fees.

The accusations: The federal agency sued Home Buyers Consulting, contending it falsely claimed it could remove valid, derogatory items -- including bankruptcy filings -- from credit reports. Also, it's illegal, under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, to collect advance fees for credit repair services.

The settlement: Under a proposed settlement, Home Buyers Consulting has agreed to no longer misrepresent what it can do for consumers. It also agreed to a monetary judgment of about $610,000; however, all but $10,000 was suspended because of declared inability to pay. The company did not, as part of the settlement, admit to wrongdoing.

Info: The agency has a consumer brochure on credit repair scams at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/repair.shtm. One of the main warning signs is when a so-called credit repair company asks for payment before providing its services. Under the law, no prepayments can be charged.

-- David Colker

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