New Jersey officials have won a temporary restraining order against United Credit Adjusters, Bankruptcy Masters Corp., United Counseling Association, Inc. and Credit Bureau Controls Corp. -- all firms that target consumers with so-called credit repair schemes.

The judge's order freezes the defendants assets and enjoins and restrains them from:

• Removing, selling, encumbering, transferring or engaging in any act of disposition of any assets...including but not limited to all deposits or any monies paid by consumers...except as reasonable and necessary for day-to-day business expenses;

• Destroying, concealing, altering, transferring, disposing or removing in any manner any books or records...that directly or indirectly relate to the advertisement and/or sale of credit repair, credit counseling, debt adjuster and bankruptcy filing services;

• Failing to make and/or keep any books or records related to these services; and

• Engaging in or doing any acts or practices in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Regulations Governing General Advertising.

"We're pleased the court has granted our request for temporary restraints. We want consumers protected as our investigation into the alleged violations committed by these defendants moves forward," said New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.

In its five-count complaint filed in mid October, the state alleges that the defendants required payment in advance during initial consultations and then, after receiving payment, failed to provide consumers with credit counseling, credit repair and/or bankruptcy services. The defended reportedly promised to raise consumers' credit scores, but failed to deliver on those promises.

Approximately 188 New Jersey consumers complained either directly to the Better Business Bureau ("BBB") as well as the Monmouth County Consumer Affairs Office, which began the investigation of United Credit Adjusters.

United Credit Adjusters, which has maintained business and mailing addresses in Lakewood, Howell and North Manasquan, was believed to be in operation even after its New Jersey corporate status was revoked in May 2008 for failure to file annual reports. At present, it is believed that United Credit Adjusters may be operating as United Credit Counseling Association, Inc.

"We firmly believe that consumers were defrauded by these companies. We're taking action to safeguard consumers and bring these defendants into compliance with our consumer protection laws and regulations," said David Szuchman, New Jersey Consumer Affairs Director.