Texas Based Credit Repair Company to Stop Doing Business in Massachusetts Under Agreement With Attorney General Martha Coakley
The Attorney General's Office alleged that Reston and her companies, using the name Trinity Credit Services, failed to comply with state and federal laws designed to protect consumers from unfair practices in the credit repair industry by unlawfully charging advance fees, failing to make required disclosures to consumers, making false statements to the credit bureaus in relation to consumers' credit histories, and sending letters in which the company signed the consumers' names without the consumers' knowledge. Under the settlement agreement, Reston and her companies are prohibited from offering credit repair services in Massachusetts. The defendants are also required to pay $25,000 under the settlement, 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.
"Consumers have an important interest in maintaining an accurate credit report, and federal law gives consumers the right to challenge inaccurate or outdated information on their credit reports without charge by contacting the credit bureaus directly," said Attorney General Coakley. "Although the impact of low credit scores on consumers' interest rates may be felt even more acutely in the current economic climate, consumers should not be misled by credit repair companies who make claims about fixing their credit that are simply too good to be true. Not only are these companies charging fees for something consumers can do for free; they are violating state and federal law when they try to get paid before they perform the services or obtain the results they have promised."
The Attorney General's Office reminds consumers to be cautious of any credit repair company that attempts to charge advance fees, or that guarantees certain results or claims to be able to remove all the negative information on a credit report. Under federal law, credit bureaus are not required to remove negative information from your credit report unless it is inaccurate or more than seven years old, or ten years old for bankruptcies.
Consumers interested in improving their credit should follow the guidance provided on the Federal Trade Commission website, www.ftc.gov (search for "Credit Repair How to Help Yourself" or click here.) The FTC website includes a sample letter that consumers can use to challenge inaccurate information on their credit report. Some credit bureaus also allow consumers to dispute credit report inaccuracies directly on the credit bureau website.
Federal law also provides that all individuals are entitled to one credit report from each credit bureau free of charge once every 12 months. Consumers can request their free annual credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form (available online) and mailing it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
In addition to a free annual credit report, if a consumer is subject to any adverse action, such as denial of credit, due to information contained in their credit report, the person or entity initiating the action must identify the credit bureau or bureaus that provided the credit reports. Consumers have a right to request a copy of their credit report from those bureaus.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Schrumpf of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division handled this matter with assistance from Paralegal Mary Wollenhaupt.