9 credit repair companies charged with fraud

February 19, 2010 4:31:41 PM PST
The City of Chicago says it recently filed consumer fraud and deceptive practice charges against nine Chicago area credit repair companies.

This summer Dominique, who does want her last name used, graduates college. Her degree didn't come with out sacrifice-- going to school and working ---both fulltime. To afford school, she relied on credit cards and got behind. In an attempt to improve her bad credit she tried to get help.

"After nine months of working with him there was little to no adjustment made to my credit," said Dominique.

Dominique says Mark Giddens with Mark Anthony & Associates in Skokie offered to improve her credit but didn't after paying him three hundred dollars.

ABC7 attempted to reach Mr. Giddens. Employees at the Skokie office told ABC7 Giddens was not in and that no one was available to talk with us.

Mark Anthony & Associates is among nine local companies that the city has charged with consumer fraud and deceptive practices --- all stemming from claims to improve credit and taking money up front with out properly registering with the state.

Dominique's story was shared at a press conference Friday.

"Credit repair companies can not remove bad credit from your credit report if it is accurate information," said Cmsr. Norma Reyes, Chicago Business Affairs & Consumer Protection.

"So many consumers are at their last wit and have their last dime in their accounts and are looking for ways of improving their credit," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau Chicago.

Dominique has since reduced her credit score on her own. She and city leaders urge Chicagoans to explore their options and carefully check out any company before giving them money.

"Contact the credit bureaus directly so that they can talk you through the options you have available to you. What I found was that by doing my own due diligence was more effective than going through third party who knew less about my situation than I did," said Dominique.

Dominique also negotiated a payment plan with the companies she owed. She urges other students to consider how bad credit may impact life after graduation and not only avoid credit repair scams but to avoid to debt all together.

The nine companies charged are due in court on the 23rd of February. Each faces a fifty-thousand dollar fine and restitution.

Related Information:

  • Top Ten Things Every Consumer Should Know About Credit, available at cityofchicago.org/bacp
  • To see if a credit repair company is registered and bonded with the Secretary of State, call (217) 782-7017 .