The operators of an alleged credit repair scam reached a deal with the Federal Trade Commission for $2.4 million and a ban from the industry after operating with the name “FTC Credit Solutions.”
Implying that their company had a connection to the Commission to help trick primarily Spanish-speaking consumers into paying thousands of dollars to improve their credit, the defendants (First Time Credit Solution, Corp., Guillermo Leyes, Jimena Perez, Fermin Campos, and Maria Bernal) promised they could remove negative information from a consumer’s credit report and guarantee a good credit score. The agency alleged that the defendants violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act by charging consumers up front for credit repair services, typically $2,000.
In one radio ad, Leyes stated that FTC Credit Solutions was licensed by the Commission, adding that the license allowed the company to guarantee any consumer a credit score of 700 or higher within 120 days or less.
Undercover calls placed by the agency posing as consumers revealed statements by Bernal that the company “works under the Federal Trade Commission, which is a law that was signed by the President in 2010,” and that the company could “delete” and “get [the investigator] a pardon” for $19,000 in debt.
To settle the charges, the four individual defendants must pay a total of $2.4 million. Leyes is responsible for the full amount and the judgment will be suspended against the others due to inability to pay. In addition, all defendants are permanently prohibited from selling or advertising credit repair services to consumers, from selling or otherwise benefiting from the personal information of customers, and from deceiving consumers about any good or service that they sell.
To read the complaint and the stipulated order in FTC v. First Time Credit Solution, click here.
Why it Matters: “These defendants were shameless. They scammed consumers who were in need of financial help and used the good name of the Federal Trade Commission to do so,” director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said in a statement. “I’m pleased these defendants will be kept away from this business for good.”