Unfortunately, Michigan consumers are no strangers to fraud. Yearly statistics indicate that identity thieves and other types of scammers operate in the Great Lakes State. However, Michigan isn’t alone. Florida, for example, has certainly seen more than its share of schemes. Sadly, the rate of fraudulent activity in the Sunshine State is probably due to its large senior citizens population.
Recently, a group of individuals were caught passing themselves off as a legitimate debt relief company in Florida. While in operation, this group reportedly defrauded 15,000 people out of more than $50 million, and a many of those who lost money were elderly or disabled. Knowing about how this fraudulent company managed to swindle all of these Floridians might help Michiganders protect their finances and their credit scores against fake debt relief companies.
What Michiganders should Learn from the Recent Debt Relief Scam in Florida
Hopefully, no Michigander will ever be a victim of something like the “massive scheme” that went down in Florida. Here, a group of fraudsters operating as 11 different companies advertised themselves as a non-profit debt relief company. Under this guise, they tricked consumers into paying them $200 to $1,000 a month. Consumers thought that the money would go toward their consolidated loans. Come to find out, though, the so-called debt relief company was pocketing the money, and the debts went unpaid.
Many of these unpaid accounts went to debt collections as consumers watched their credit scores plummet. Debt collectors and lenders sued some of these consumers, forcing many of them into bankruptcy. With all of this in mind, Michigan consumers should do a lot of investigating before trusting any company that claims to offer “debt relief.” Also, it’s important for Michiganders with elderly or disabled relatives to remind their loved ones to be careful.
The Florida debt relief fraudsters sent emails and direct mail, and made phone calls to victims. Of course, many of the consumers who signed up with the fake debt relief company failed to read the fine print on the contracts. Instead, they took everything at face value and signed up for automatic monthly payments.
How Michigan Consumers can Protect Themselves against would-be Fraudsters
After looking at the details of the case, it’s easy to see how the scam worked. After all, every document that the fraud victims received looked like an actual loan agreement. This group that is now under criminal investigation also operated under very legitimate sounding names like Credit Specialists of America, Helping America Group, and Financial Freedom National Inc.
It’s incredibly sad that this happened in Florida, and that so many consumers had their finances and credit scores ruined. Currently, the FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s Office are filing charges against this organization, seeking compensation for the victims. This whole incident can also serve as a cautionary tale for Michigan residents about the importance of being skeptical when it comes to your credit.
There are some very good debt relief, credit counseling, and credit repair companies out there, but there are also fraudsters in disguise who just want to take your money. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference, but doing your research will help. Look for online reviews from other consumers, and make sure that you have a contract in writing before agreeing to do business with any company.
An Easy Way for Michiganders to Get Back on Track with their Credit Scores
If you’re working to improve your credit, the first thing you should do is check your credit reports. This will give you an opportunity to see exactly where you stand with your credit, where you’re succeeding, and which areas need the most work. Taking a look at all three of your credit reports (from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) will also allow you to look for errors. Mistakes on your credit reports might be bringing your score down. However, a federal statute known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute these inaccuracies and have them removed.
Michiganders have an extra advantage when it comes to getting errors removed from their credit reports. They can get a FREE credit repair lawyer to help them through the entire disputing process. Not sure how to go about getting copies of your credit reports? At Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers, we can help with that too.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit
Don’t errors on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (248) 353-2882 or contact us on our contact page.