Federal regulators on Thursday said they filed complaints against seven companies - five of them based in Florida - that allegedly promised to wipe credit reports clean of damaging information - even if it was accurate.
"Companies that promise they are able to scrub your credit reports of accurate, negative information for a fee are lying, plain and simple," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC and agencies from 22 states are asking that a judge stop the companies from operating, prohibit future unlawful practices and force the companies to repay customers, said Frank Dorman, an FTC spokesman.
The five Florida companies are:
- Nationwide Credit Services Inc.
- Clean Credit Report Service Inc.
- RCA Credit Services LLC
- Latrese & Kevin Enterprises Inc., also known as Hargrave & Associates Financial Solutions, Latrese Hargrave
- ACE Group Inc., also known as American Credit Experts Inc., The Ace Group Inc. and Legal Credit Repair Center Inc.
The other two companies named in FTC complaints are California-based Successful Credit Service Corp., also doing business as Success Credit Services, and Advantage Credit Repair LLC, based in Illinois.
Melvin Kessler, owner of Ace Group, said that the charges were "bogus" and that he plans to contest the complaint.
Clients are given copies of their credit report and asked which items are inaccurate and should be removed, Kessler said. Ace has likely challenged accurate information - but not knowingly, Kessler said.
Ace does not promise to remove correct information, he said.
The FTC gets about 4,000 complaints each year about credit repair companies, Dorman said. That likely represents a tiny fraction of those being misled, he said.
Since the Credit Repair Organization Act was passed in 1996, the FTC has brought about 140 actions against credit repair companies.