FTC fines credit repair group $ 6.4 million after ignoring previous order

The Federal Trade Commission announced late last week that it had won a $ 6.4 million fine against a credit repair operation that apparently ignored a 2010 enforcement agency order on its deceptive practices. A court ordered the defendants to pay the FTC $ 6.4 million within 30 days and to shut down their credit repair business for good.

Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Florida, Jacksonville Division issued a contempt order against Kevin Hargrave and Latrese Hargrave and the companies they control – BFS Empowerment Financial Services Inc. , Help My Credit Now Credit Services Inc., and Kevtrese Enterprises Inc.

The court concluded that despite the entry of a January 2010 statement order prohibiting Florida-based defendants from deceptively marketing credit repair services, the defendants continued to violate the FTC and Credit Repair Organizations Act by claiming that they could permanently remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, even when the information was correct. The court also found the defendants in contempt for charging a “registration fee” of $ 250, in violation of the advance fee ban in the previous order.

The January 2010 order arose out of a complaint filed by the FTC against the defendants in October 2008 in a federal and state law enforcement operation against credit repair operations that allegedly marketed their credit repair services. deceptive way. According to the complaint, the defendants advertised on the Internet and radio stations and charged $ 250 to $ 270 per person and $ 450 per couple for alleged credit repair services, requiring that half or all of the fees are paid in advance. In their advertisements, the defendants boasted that they “specialize in wiping out bad credit!”