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Judge halts mail to credit card business

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order keeping a local business that handles credit card applications from receiving its mail. U.S. postal inspectors in Tampa went to court after 30 consumers nationwide complained they had received bills and invoices for credit cards they had not applied for. U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges signed the order on Monday.

Postal Inspector Connie Waterer said U.S. Liberty at 9305 N 56th St. in Temple Terrace had been sending unsolicited requests for payment on Visa credit card applications. Sending bills for unsolicited services is illegal, she said.

U.S. Liberty was asking for a minimum of $455 for a credit card, postal inspectors said.

"The judge agreed that we need to stop this until we can find out more about what they are doing," Waterer said.

A Tampa official with Golden Force Inc., the parent corporation of U.S. Liberty, said anyone who received the mailings from U.S. Liberty had applied for a credit card.

"The charges are completely unfounded," Edward M. Barbara Jr., director of Golden Force, said Tuesday.

Hodges' order will temporarily keep U.S. Liberty from receiving its daily delivery of mail, between 2,000 and 6,000 letters. On June 17, postal inspectors will ask a federal judge to continue the injunction until postal officials finish their investigation.

Waterer said postal inspectors cannot look inside U.S. Liberty's mail, but federal officials fear some letters may include payments.

According to postal inspectors, U.S. Liberty sent out unsolicited letters saying the recipients had been accepted for a Visa credit card. The letter goes on to say that the customer failed to send in a processing fee of $35 (or $45 for a joint account), Waterer said.

Fine, light print on the back of the letter gives a list of other charges: $30 setup fee; $40 annual fee; and $350 minimum deposit in a savings account at Farrington Bank of Flanders, N.J., to get a line of credit, postal officials said.

Farrington Bank officials did not comment but referred a call on Tuesday to Steve Guarino, president of U.S. Liberty Inc. in Cherry Hill, N.J.

U.S. Liberty acts as an agent for Farrington Bank, Guarino said.

Guarino said U.S. Liberty officials were aware of the complaints.

"When it was brought to our attention that the wording of the letters was causing confusion, it was discontinued," he said. He said he didn't know when the wording was discontinued and referred questions to Barbara.

Barbara said he learned about the postal inspectors' concerns on Monday.

U.S. Liberty also operates under the names of Visa Card Liberty Processing, Credit Card Application Center U.S. Liberty and U.S. Liberty Application Center.

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