A group of Florida men who made false promises that they could fix consumers' credit agreed to a $21 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that was reduced to $5,000 apiece because they said they couldn't afford the larger sum, the FTC announced.
The FTC said it would reimpose the higher number, which spokesman said accounts for the gross revenue of the business, if the three defendants fail to pay the $5,000 or they lied about their financial conditions.
Ace Group, Inc., also known as American Credit Experts, Inc., The Ace Group, Inc., The Ace Group, and ACE; and Legal Credit Repair Center, Inc. were the subject of a federal lawsuit filed late last year by the FTC. Also cited were principals Michael Singer, Gerald Roth and Melvin Kessler.
The FTC said they told consumers they could get negative entries on their credit reports removed and charged $60 upfront and then another $60 a month thereafter. Dispute letters sent by the company didn't achieve the promised result, the FTC said.
The men agreed to stop collecting money from people who had signed up for their services and to protect their customers' identities as they dispose of the personal and financial information that had been collected. Two separate judgments were filed in the case: One that covered Singer and Roth and the other on Kessler, who filed for protection under federal bankruptcy laws.
The FTC warns consumers that using such services isn't the solution to credit problems. The commission offers advice on its web site on what consumers with credit problems can do to help their situations. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has some additional information on avoid debt elimination scams.
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