|The state of Missouri has shut down a credit repair service that allegedly did nothing for the nearly $500 it charged. The owner of the company, who falsely claimed to carry a mortgage license, has been shut down before under another business name.
For just $495, Tim Holthaus could improve credit scores and help borrowers land loans for houses, cars and more. Along with his credit repair operation, he also claimed to be a licensed mortgage broker.
But the Missouri Attorney General has gone to court to shut down Holthaus' Success Systems credit repair service, accusing the Springfield, Mo., man of promising better credit but delivering little in return.
At least 17 customers filed complaints against Holthaus, accusing him of running a fraud and claiming he refused to honor his money back guarantee, according to a statement from Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.
"Mr. Holthaus has made a habit of preying upon people whose credit was bad and were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for what they thought was a quick fix," Nixon said in the statement.
"We will do everything we can to ensure that those who parted with nearly $500 and got nothing in return will get that money back, and that he is prevented from continuing such fraudulent activity under a new name," he said.
Nixon filed a civil action against Holthaus. A Missouri court granted a temporary restraining that essentially shut the business down. Success Systems' Web site is no longer operational and he could not be reached to comment.
Nixon is seeking full restitution for customers, fines of $1,000 per violation of the state consumer protection laws and other monetary damages.
Holthaus previously operated a company called Dreamlife, an Internet firm that also promised credit repair services, Nixon said. Customers have also complained about Dreamlife, claiming they could not reach it or Holthaus on the phone or by e-mail.
Nixon said Holthaus made "misrepresentations" in his advertising, including claims that Success Systems is a legitimate credit services organization and a fully licensed mortgage banking institution.
But the company is not registered with state financial regulators, which is required under Missouri law.
"Mr. Holthaus' track record of taking advantage of people who are in need is well documented from his first business," Nixon said. "Negative, but accurate, information on your credit can only be removed through the gradual building up of good credit.
"Anyone who says otherwise," he said, "is trying to sell you services that won't help."