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State sues credit-repair company in central New Jersey
[October 17, 2008]

State sues credit-repair company in central New Jersey


(Asbury Park Press (NJ) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 16--The state Division of Consumer Affairs has filed a civil complaint against United Credit Adjusters, located in Howell, Lakewood and Wall, seeking to shut down the credit repair and counseling operation.



The action filed Tuesday in Superior Court accuses the firm and associated companies of accepting fees from clients and then either failing to provide the promised credit-repair services or misrepresenting the effect that filings such as bankruptcies would have on their credit histories.

In addition, United Credit Adjusters and its affiliated companies were accused in the court filings of falsely promising to cut clients' credit-card debts by as much as 50 percent while improving their credit records.


Those ads ran on Web sites and in newspapers and advertising shoppers, the suit alleged.

A call to the company seeking comment was not returned.

The investigation began with a trickle of complaints received by the Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs that ultimately grew to 118 complaints with the county agency and the Better Business Bureau.

State Attorney General Anne Milgram credited the initial investigative work of Patricia Watson of the Monmouth County Consumer Affairs Office with bringing the case to the state's attention.

Watson said she began investigating the complaints last year. She estimated that the clients in the cases she investigated lost from $1,000 to $2,000 apiece.

"Many times they were unable to even contact this company to tell them to stop taking service fees from their checking accounts," she said. "They went for help with their financial problems and ended up with a bigger problem."

United Credit and its affiliates claimed to be members of the Better Business Bureau, although that group said they were kicked out last year.

Also named in the suit were the following companies the state said are believed to be connected to United Credit Adjusters: Bankruptcy Masters Corp., United Counseling Association Inc., and Credit Bureau Controls Corp.

The suit alleges all violated the state's consumer fraud act, debt reduction and credit counseling act and state regulations governing the advertising representations companies are allowed to make.

"United Credit Adjusters and these defendants offered false hope to consumers who found themselves in dire financial situations," Milgram said in a prepared release. "They misrepresented the services they would provide and pocketed money from consumers for essentially doing nothing related to credit repair and credit counseling."

The suit asks the court to bar the companies and their representatives from continuing to do business and demands restitution for many of their dissatisfied clients. It also seeks to freeze their assets.

A Dun & Bradstreet check on United Credit Adjusters, Inc., lists the company as located at 4555 Route 9 in Howell. The report lists the company as having two employees at that location and annual sales of $190,000 a year.

Other locations used by United Credit Adjusters or its affiliated companies were: 2517 Route 35 in Wall and 112 Clifton Ave., Suite 73, in Lakewood, according to the complaint.

A check of court records shows the Internal Revenue Service filed a federal tax lien against the company on Sept. 16 for $119,770.

It is not the first time United Credit has faced a brush with the law. In May, a former employee of United Credit Adjusters, Daniel Rivera of Brielle, was arrested and accused of convincing a customer to deposit money directly into his own bank account in exchange for an easier time improving his credit score.

At the time, a lawyer for United Credit Adjusters said the company wasn't involved, and the employee no longer worked there. When company officials learned of the possible wrongdoing, they contacted Howell police, he said.

To see more of the Asbury Park Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.app.com

Copyright (c) 2008, Asbury Park Press, N.J.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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