A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation has concluded that credit repair company Grand Teton Professionals, operating under various websites, like TopTradelines.com, encroached on consumer rights. The FTC took harsh and decisive action against this company and its ownership, to include shutting down their websites and freezing their bank accounts.
Credit repair companies work to boost their customer’s credit score through a variety of techniques, including removing inaccurate information, adding clients to authorized user credit tradelines, and advising them to pay off certain debts owed. Unfortunately, not all credit repair or tradeline companies are legitimate, placing their greedy goals ahead of their clients’ best interests, so it’s important to choose to work with a reputable tradeline company.
The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) is a federal law intended to protect consumers from the predatory business practices of unscrupulous credit repair organizations. President Bill Clinton signed the Act into law in 1996 as part of the more significant Consumer Credit Protection Act. This law offers strict guidelines to help regulate the credit repair industry and make it safer for consumers while still allowing them the freedom to purchase credit repair services. It also allows consumers to recover damages from credit repair companies that violate any part of the law, knowingly or otherwise.
Credit repair organizations, like tradeline companies, must avoid purposely misrepresenting the services they offer, such as claiming they are not a credit repair organization, when they clearly fit within the definition outlined in the CROA. As a credit repair company, the CROA places extremely stringent and costly requirements on the credit repair industry, including requirements to:
– provide consumers with a written contract detailing specific provisions, such as the cost of services, a detailed description of the services with the expected results, as well as any guarantees promoted by the company.
– disclose the physical address of the business prominently on their marketing materials.
– allow clients to cancel within 3-days of the purchase.
Credit repair companies claiming they are not subject to the CROA are weaseling out of following these federal requirements to save themselves money, placing American consumers in a highly dangerous position, and their money – as well as their identities – at risk.
Any credit repair organization or tradeline company that fails to meet these requirements, or fraudulently makes false advertising claims to subvert their responsibility to abiding by the law is in violation of the Credit Repair Organizations Act, subject to criminal prosecution, and should be avoided by every consumer at all costs.
While there are legitimate credit repair agencies out there, dishonest companies who prey on the uninformed also exist. It is a good idea to research any credit repair organization or tradeline supply company you are considering doing business with. Signs they are a reliable tradeline supply company for piggybacking – or traditional credit repair company – will be that they have been in business for more than 10 years. You can find this out by searching for the company on reputable websites, like BBB.org. While you’re there, make sure the company is Accredited as a “Credit Repair Service”, has an A+ rating, and little or no complaints against them.
Google Reviews are also a strong indicator of reliability and a company’s commitment to treating you the right way, not just for the times the service goes well, but more importantly when it goes wrong. Be sure to read not just the negative reviews, but most importantly the company’s response, because that will show you how you will be treated, if something goes wrong. For example, if the company posts the same pre-canned reply to every negative review, chances are you will not be treated fairly if something goes wrong.
If the credit repair organization or tradeline supply company mentions creating a new identity or segregating credit files, you should probably steer clear. If they will not be specific about how they will repair your credit and increase your score, that is another red flag. Credit repair companies that try to hide their true identities and contact information (the real names of the ownership/staff, physical address, cell phone number, etc.) are probably in violation of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) and most likely do not have your best interests at heart.
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