Friday, December 12, 2008
EXCLUSIVE: TURNING CREDIT REPAIR INTO DISPAIR
I've had my ups and downs. In the past, I've often considered going to one of those credit counseling company's you see on TV. They fix your credit, right? Actually, this is an urban myth. There's no such thing as fixing credit, if you're credit is bad. You can fix it yourself, if the information is wrong. But, millions of Americans bite. Now, more then ever.
A few months ago, worried about my firing at WABC I bookmarked, United Credit Adjusters. Their TV ads were very convincing and they seemed like they were on the up and up, until I Googled them. I suggest you do this anytime something seems too good to be true.
United Credit Adjusters is a sham and when you read some of the letters written by customers, you'll be heartbroken. So, here are all of these people who are in dire straights, broke in many cases, borderline bankruptcy and these creeps are screwing them, big time.
"They have debited my account without my acknowledgment for services not rendered. They have put me in worst financial debt than when I started. They've hung-up on me and ignored my phone calls. It seems that this is a small office company where everyone are friends...there is no check and balances between management. Please beware. I am trying to get my money back now."
And, the horror stories continue. There were so many complaints against United Credit Adjusters that the Better Business Bureau not only delisted them, but sent out advisories that they are essentially a rip-off. But, it gets worse. Overwhelmed by complaints, the BBB alerted the attorneys general of several states, which began consumer fraud investigations. The result was a lawsuit. The first came from the state of New Jersey
"Attorney General Anne Milgram and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against United Credit Adjusters, a credit repair and credit counseling company that allegedly failed to provide such services to consumers despite its advertising claims.
The state's five-count complaint, filed in State Superior Court in Monmouth County, also names as defendants the following companies that are believed to be connected and/or related to United Credit Adjusters: Bankruptcy Masters Corp.; United Counseling Association, Inc.; and Credit Bureau Controls Corp.
The state alleges that the defendants required payment in advance during initial consultations and then, after receiving payment, failed to provide consumers with credit counseling, credit repair and/or bankruptcy services. Contrary to defendants' representations and advertisements, consumers' credit scores were not raised nor was negative information eliminated from credit reports."
The lawsuit came in October of 2008. But, as recently as November, people were still complaining about how UCA was stealing their money.
"It has been close to two months and I haven't herd since. After repeated phone calls and a number of messages that I left, I stopped payment to UCA. To be honest I'm not sure that's the right thing to do? I just researched UCA and read that NJ put a freeze on their assets. I'm writing this because I believe that UCA is not fulfilling their agreement that I am paying them for. I was extremely hopeful that UCA could have helped me."
He's right. The state has seized the company's assets .
"A temporary restraining order has frozen the assets of United Credit Adjusters, and three other firms thought to be related to it, following a lawsuit in which the state accused the companies of taking payment from consumers during consultations without providing promised financial services.
The temporary restraining order freezes the assets of the companies and bars the defendants from a number of actions, including the disposition of any assets and the altering or removal of any books or records that relate to the advertisement or sale of credit repair, credit counseling, debt adjuster and bankruptcy filing services, according to the division."
But, wait. It gets better. As the investigations continued, the flim-flam operation was turned over to local police departments. Boldly, they got involved.
"A former employee of United Credit Adjusters Inc. in Howell was in the Monmouth County Jail Tuesday on charges that he convinced a customer to deposit money directly into his own bank account in exchange for an easier time improving his credit score.
Daniel Rivera, 53, of Brielle was arrested last week and charged with theft by deception after a customer alleged he lost about $4,500, according to Howell police.
The arrest comes as county and state agencies investigate complaints that the company hasn't performed the work it promised or paid some of its employees. Company officials said they are being hit by the economic slowdown."
So now, you'd think, the company is gone for good. Shutdown. Right? Wrong! Not only is this company still in business, it's unscrupulous owner continues to take money out of the pockets of people who are down and out. The guy, Ahron E. Henoch, even went on line to defend his company.
"To Whom This May Concern:
I, Ahron E. Henoch feel that clients misrepresent allegations that UCA failed to provide services they signed up for.
UCA is in compliance with the law and does provide services it advertises.
The success of our program depends very much on clients' participation and I can assure you that we have thousands of happy clients.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com
There are always two sides of the story. I would like my side to be heard as well."
This guy is in total denial. There are hundreds of letters of people who claim to have been ripped off. The stories are all the same, some more painful than others, including this one from a customer pleading for help!
"Hi my name is Emanuel Klein. I met with Ahron E. Henoch and his business partner and they had a lawyer at that time. I am going bankrupt and they gave me price of 10, 000 dollars. I paid them in full and Ahron told me by September they will start at 08/1/08 and be done by 11/01/08. I called them from 08/01/08 and nobody picked up the phone and they never filed my bankruptcy and they don't pick up my calls ,I called the office and his cell and there's no answer. Please help me get back my 10, 000 dollars."
Amazing, right. If you're broke and seeking credit counseling who in their right mind has $10,000 to spend? I don't. Let's review. One employee has been arrested and the company's assets have been frozen. Come on. That's the best the authorities can do? Toss this guy in jail and throw away the key. Listen, I'm a reporter and if I've been able to pull together this much information in an hour-long Google search, imagine what the cops could get on this guy, if they spent a little time. In this economy, what this guy is doing is just as bad as the people who preyed on September 11th or Katrina victims after those two disasters.