Los Angeles, California - At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has halted the operations of a company that calls itself “FTC Credit Solutions.” The company allegedly used false affiliation with the Commission to market bogus credit repair services to Spanish-speaking consumers.
In a complaint filed with the court, the FTC alleges that defendants deceived consumers by claiming to be affiliated with or licensed by the Federal Trade Commission, falsely promising that they could remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, and guaranteeing consumers a credit score of 700 or above within six months or less.
“Peddling lies under the name of the Federal Trade Commission to target consumers who are in difficult financial situations is appalling,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This scam used the promise of a fresh start to hurt consumers when they most needed help, so we are pleased the court has taken a first step to ending it for good.”
The FTC’s complaint quotes a radio advertisement hosted by defendant Guillermo Leyes, in which he falsely stated that FTC Credit Solutions had a license from the FTC. Defendant Leyes misrepresented that the purported license allowed FTC Credit Solutions to guarantee any consumer a credit score of 700 or higher within 120 days or less.
According to the FTC’s filings, in undercover calls placed to the company by FTC investigators posing as consumers seeking debt repair services, defendant Maria Bernal, an employee of the company, said that the company “works under the Federal Trade Commission, which is a law that was signed by the President in 2010.” She also falsely promised that the company could “delete” and “get [the investigator] a pardon” for $19,000 in debt.
The FTC further alleges that the company unlawfully charged consumers fees in advance of providing the promised credit repair services. The company also sent the major credit bureaus letters with false information on behalf of numerous consumers.
The FTC alleges that the company, along with employees Leyes, Bernal, Jimena Perez and Fermin Campos, violated the FTC Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). Specifically, defendants violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that they were affiliated with the FTC, by falsely promising to remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, and by making false promises about improving consumers’ credit scores. In addition, the FTC alleges that by charging consumers upfront for credit repair services and misrepresenting their services, the defendants violated the CROA.
Under the terms of the temporary restraining order granted by the court, the company has temporarily ceased operations and the defendants’ assets are frozen.
The County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs provided significant assistance in this case.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.