Posted by: swfloridarealestate | November 18, 2008

Beware of Credit Repair Companies

If you are thinking of hiring a company to repair your credit, be aware that the State of Florida does not require credit advisors to be licensed. Since there’s no legal regulation by the state, here are some tips for checking on the companies: 

  1. Check on the company the Better Business Bureau. www.bbb.com
  2. Check if the company has any legal action against it with the Lee County Clerk of Court http://www.leeclerk.org/
  3. Do a criminal background check on the credit advisor at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Allen Cooper, a credit advisor from North Fort Myers, has more than two dozen complaints with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, for alledged fraud, false advertising, threatning and abusive language. 

LEE COUNTY: The state of our economy has many asking professionals for financial advice, but a loophole in state law means you could be turning to a criminal for help.

NBC2 found a convicted felon promising to restore people’s credit. There are dozens of complaints against him.

“He was very abrasive on the phone,” said one former customer.

The former customer is talking about “Allen Cooper,” a credit repair advisor who’s real name is protected under federal law.

From his North Fort Myers Office, Cooper has made a living promising to restore people’s credit under the company name World Wide Search Systems.

“I trusted him because he’s very convincing,” said the former customer who didn’t want to be identified.

He paid Cooper $1,900 to improve his credit score.

Four months later, the customer said his credit score began to decline.

When he refused to pay, Cooper responded with threats.

“Things like, ‘I can do things to you that will assure that I get my money.’ It was very intimidating,” he said.

We asked if he feared for his safety.

“Yes I did,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to appear on camera.”

Dalgonal Hyde also hired Cooper. He says Cooper charged him hundreds of dollars without ever improving his credit score by a single point.

“I would like to see no one else become the victim the way I have,” said Hyde.

NBC2 discovered the Florida Attorney General’s Office has nearly two dozen complaints against Cooper on file.

They allege fraud, false advertising, threatening and abusive language.

The complaints are mostly from Southwest Florida, but there are also complaints from Colorado, Nevada, Mississippi, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington.

In 2005 the state of Illinois sued cooper’s company for making false promises to consumers. Cooper was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine.

We went to Allen Cooper’s office to ask him about the complaints.

Cooper: I have 12,000 clients since 1992, and you said I have how many complaints?
NBC2: Two dozen.
Cooper: Two dozen. So if you divide that in the years I’ve been doing credit restoration, that’s like 5 to 6 people a year.

During the course of our nearly 45 minute interview, Cooper accused the clients who filed complaints against him, of writing bad checks and not doing their part to maintain their credit while he tried to fix it.

He denies he ever used threatening language.

Cooper has a criminal record that includes 9 convictions, ranging from DUI, to hit and run, to grand theft. Cooper claims the charges were dropped to petty theft.

Either way, how does a convicted criminal wind up managing people’s credit? The State of Florida does not require credit advisors to be licensed.

Every state agency we contacted said it was not their job to monitor the credit repair industry.

The Department of Financial Services told us they don’t look into these complaints and referred us to the Office of Financial Regulation who said it’s ‘not their priority.’

There are laws on the books that protect consumers against fraud, but it’s up to the consumer to sound the alarm.

State Senator Burt Saunders, who’s running for congress, said our investigation makes a good case for a new state law.

“These agencies are dealing with people who are in trouble and people in trouble sometimes put their trust in the wrong people, and there should be some licensing here for that. I would agree with that,” said Saunders.

But until there are laws or licensing is required, you are on your own when hiring a credit repair agency.

Look for a company that’s in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Check with the county Clerk of Court to see if the company has any legal action against it.
Do a criminal back ground check on the credit advisor.
Above all, you should consider doing your own credit repair.
Within the past few days the Federal Trade Commission proposed new legislation requiring credit councilors to register with states.

Senator Saunders says he will also push for reform.

Because of our investigation, the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Financial Services are both looking into the complaints against World Wide Search Systems.

Use caution when hiring credit repair company by
http://www.nbc2investigators.com/articles/readnbc2investigatorsarticle.asp?articleid=21889&z=5

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Responses

  1. […] of all – great tips about checking the credibility of credit repair companies (the tips are for Florida, but lots of the common info as […]

  2. Great post – not enough people understand what is in their credit report and how important it is to maintain a high score. At the end of the day they are throwing away their hard earned money, and the ones who have the worst credit are in the least position to afford it.


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