By Mark Huffman

July 20, 2010
The State of Massachusetts has taken legal action against two individuals who charged illegal upfront fees and allegedly made false promises to fix Massachusetts consumers' credit reports through their credit repair businesses.

The individuals operate under the business names of Credit Score Rebuilders and Integrity Credit Restoration.

The lawsuit, filed against Reilly Silvia of West Barnstable and Bonnie Souza of Norton, alleges that since January 2008, the pair advertised services purporting to improve consumers' credit reports and credit scores by removing or correcting negative information on the consumers' credit report.

Souza and Silvia conducted their operations under the business names of Credit Score Rebuilders and Integrity Credit Restoration. The pair also allegedly unlawfully charged fees prior to performing the credit repair services they promised, failed to include legally required information in the written materials and contracts provided to consumers in violation of state and federal law governing credit repair services, and made false statements to the credit bureaus in relation to consumers' credit histories.

"It is becoming an all too common practice for individuals and businesses to try and profit off of consumers in economically vulnerable situations," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. "In many instances, consumers turn to these businesses to try to save their homes and their credit, and instead they end up in even worse financial straits by paying for services that are not delivered."

Wild claims

Credit repair scams have proliferated with a worsening economy. Some of these operations make promises and guarantees that simply aren't true. For example, a Florida credit repair operator recently ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission for telling consumers that bankruptcies, judgments, slow pay history, repossessions, and collection accounts "can legally be erased!"

These firms typically charge from $300 to $1,000, including an advance fee ranging from $75 to $150, and a monthly fee that they often debit from consumers' bank accounts.

After paying the fees, consumers find that these credit repair services rarely, if ever, deliver the promised results. In many instances, they take consumers' money without providing any services. Consumers often find their cancellation requests ignored, and their refund requests are almost always denied.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office is seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting Silvia and Souza from continuing these practices and from destroying any records or transferring assets.