Six Michigan-based defendants settled charges Monday leveled by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and agreed to pay more than $1.15 million in consumer redress.
ICR Service, Inc. and its three officers, Bernadino J. Pavone, Jr., his mother Gloria Tactac, and Abood Samaan, as well as National Credit Education and Review and its president Todd Renzi comprise the six defendants that agreed to the monetary settlement. According to the FTC website, the defendants have raked in more than $53 million from more than 183,000 customers.
The complaint stemmed from allegations that the company falsely and deceptively claimed, among other things, that it had a "one-of-a-kind" computer disk that could "search and identify errors in the process used by the credit reporting agencies."
In the complaint, the FTC detailed information that the company allegedly passed on to consumers about the "disk," including that it had been independently appraised at $200 million, that it had been insured by Lloyd's of London for $15 million and that a credit agency had offered $10 million for it.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the disk and/or software does not and never did actually exist.
According to the final court order, the company and its representatives may no longer reference the computer disk or software program. The defendants are required to distribute a notice to their 50,000 sales representatives detailing the court's order, and to continue selling the product, the representatives must acknowledge receipt of the notice.
The FTC also alleged that the company falsely claimed that it could remove negative credit information from a customer's credit report even if that information was "accurate, verifiable, and not obsolete."
Consumers were also allegedly required to pay up front for the service, a violation of federal law, according to the complaint. Also, the terms of the "110 percent money back guarantee" were misrepresented, the FTC said.
The credit repair offered by ICR generally cost between $200 and $400, with the sales representatives garnering about $150 commission per sale, the FTC said.
Currently, the company operates under the name "National Credit Repair," which has a website up and running.
"Consumers who find themselves with less than perfect credit histories should be wary of anyone offering a quick fix to the problem. Mistakes can be corrected, but there is no substitute for time and self-discipline to improve your credit report if the information is accurate," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.