The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently obtained a temporary restraining order  against Grand Teton Professionals which  the FTC alleged has been operating credit repair scams since 2014 using the names Deletion Experts, Inquiry Busters and Top Tradelines.  Credit repairs scams are very common  as scammers take advantage of people with debt problems and promise to fix their credit and clear their credit reports of adverse information for up front fees.

Your credit report is one of the most important documents in your financial life.  The information in your credit report as maintained by the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian is used to calculate your credit score.  This is used by financial institutions to evaluate your creditworthiness and can affect your ability to get a credit card, mortgage loan or a car loan.  It also can affect the rate that you will be charged on such loans.  In addition, your credit score is used in many states by companies in making hiring decisions and landlords consider credit scores when determining whether or not to rent an apartment or home to someone.  When you are the victim of identity theft, the effect on your credit score can be devastating. Preying on this fear, scammers, posing as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, are sending phishing emails to targeted victims telling them that their is a problem with the intended victim’s credit score. For more information, the person receiving the email is instructed to click on a link. Unfortunately, clicking on the link  downloads malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can lead to the person becoming a victim of identity theft.

The FTC alleges that Grand Teton falsely promised that they could remove negative items from consumers’ credit reports, charged illegal upfront fees, failed to provide disclosures about their services as required by law and performed other illegal actions through which they cheated consumers out of millions of dollars.

TIPS

Don’t fall prey to scammers operating phony credit repair companies. and never pay an upfront fee to one of these companies.  Advance fees for credit repair companies that operate for profit are banned by the Credit Repair Organizations Act.  Negative information on your credit report remains on your credit report for seven years and bankruptcies for ten years.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to scam you.  Many of the scam credit repair companies use illegal tactics such as applying for a federal employer ID to use as your Social Security number when applying for credit.  This is illegal. If you need real credit counseling you can go to this section of the Department of Justice’s website where it lists agencies approved to assist consumers with debt problems. https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111    You also may consider contacting companies that are affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at this link https://www.nfcc.org/

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