For Immediate Release - July 19, 2010

AG Coakley Sues Credit Repair Companies for Charging Illegal Advance Fees and Failing to Make Required Disclosures to Consumers

Offers Advice to Consumers on How to Wisely Choose a Credit Repair Agency

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has filed a lawsuit against two individuals who charged illegal upfront fees and allegedly made false promises to fix Massachusetts consumers' credit reports through their credit repair businesses. The individuals operate under the business names of Credit Score Rebuilders and Integrity Credit Restoration.

The lawsuit, filed last week against Reilly Silvia of West Barnstable and Bonnie Souza of Norton, alleges that since January 2008, the pair advertised services purporting to improve consumers' credit reports and credit scores by removing or correcting negative information on the consumers' credit report. Souza and Silvia conducted their operations under the business names of Credit Score Rebuilders and Integrity Credit Restoration. The pair also allegedly unlawfully charged fees prior to performing the credit repair services they promised, failed to include legally required information in the written materials and contracts provided to consumers in violation of state and federal law governing credit repair services, and made false statements to the credit bureaus in relation to consumers' credit histories.

"It is becoming an all too common practice for individuals and businesses to try and profit off of consumers in economically vulnerable situations," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "In many instances, consumers turn to these businesses to try to save their homes and their credit, and instead they end up in even worse financial straits by paying for services that are not delivered."

The Attorney General's Office is seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting Silvia and Souza from continuing these practices and from destroying any records or transferring assets. A hearing for a preliminary injunction has been scheduled for July 28 th at 2:00 p.m. in Suffolk Superior Court.

The Attorney General's Office today also issued a consumer advisory cautioning consumers to do their homework when choosing a credit repair company. The advisory offers advice on dealing with these types of businesses and offers tips on what to do if you find yourself in debt. Visit the Attorney General's website to view the advisory.

In June, the Attorney General's Office settled similar allegations with Trinity Credit Services and its owner, Angela Reston. Under the settlement agreement, Reston and her companies are prohibited from offering credit repair services in Massachusetts. Those defendants are also required to pay $25,000, which will be allocated to the Attorney General's Local Consumer Program, a statewide network of local consumer assistance organizations that offer information and assistance in resolving consumer complaints.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Schrumpf of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division.