- Victim Assistance
- Consumer Protection
- Media Center
- Topical Index
Federal Trade Commission Announces Operation Clean Sweep
MADISON - You see the ads in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail, and maybe even calls offering credit repair services. They all make the same claims:
"Credit problems? No problem!"
"We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and
bad loans from your credit file forever!"
"We can erase your bad credit - 100% guaranteed."
"Create a new credit identity - legally."
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) say you can do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don't believe these claims: they're very likely signs of a scam. Indeed, attorneys at the nation's consumer protection agency say they've never seen a legitimate credit repair operation making those claims.
"Wisconsin law prohibits companies from making false and deceptive claims about improving your credit report," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "There is no quick fix to improve your credit. You can improve your own credit legitimately, but it takes time and effort."
It is important to recognize a Credit Repair Scam. Everyday, companies target consumers who have poor credit histories with promises to clean up their credit report so they can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job once they pay a fee for the service. The truth is, these companies can't deliver an improved credit report for you using the tactics they promote. It's illegal: No one can remove accurate negative information from your credit report. So after you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, you're left with the same credit report - and someone else has your money.
If you see a credit repair offer, here's how to tell if the company behind it is up to no good:
The company wants you to pay for credit repair services before they provide any services. Under the Credit Repair Organization Act, credit repair companies can not require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.
The company doesn't tell you your rights and what you can do for yourself for free.
The company recommends that you do not contact any of the three major national credit reporting companies directly.
The company tells you they can get rid of most or all of the negative credit information in your credit report, even if that information is accurate and current.
The company suggests that you try to invent a "new" credit identity - and then, a new credit report - by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security Number.
The company advises you to dispute all of the information in your credit report, regardless of its accuracy or timeliness.
"If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may find yourself in legal hot water," said Van Hollen. "It is a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security Number, or to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses."
You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail, telephone, or Internet to apply for credit and provide false information.
To learn how to improve your credit worthiness and find legitimate resources for low or no-cost help, please see Credit Repair: How To Help Yourself at http://www.ftc.gov/credit.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.