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Alabama AG Marshall Shuts Down Fraudulent Credit Repair Company – Yellowhammer News

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Work has started on a new public-use weigh-in pavilion at Smith Lake, which is part of a partnership between B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers recently broke ground on the project at Lewis Smith Lake Dam Boat Ramp in Walker County.

The pavilion will feature holding tanks for fish, which reduce stress and increase survival rates. The covered pavilion will provide shade for tournament weigh-ins.



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“This pavilion will provide a much-needed place for organizations to hold their weigh-ins, from local bass clubs to the largest Bassmaster Open tournaments,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland.

Gilliland thanked Alabama Power for its support of the project. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also donated engineering expertise.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers are handling construction and say the project is an opportunity for their members to partner with the community.

“We’re proud to partner with B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power on this project, which will benefit Smith Lake anglers for years to come,” said Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “Our union volunteers are passionate about the outdoors and conservation, and they enjoy sharing their time and trade skills giving back to their communities.”

“As part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and a high school fishing coach, I am proud to see this project underway and excited about the positive impact it will have on the fast-growing high school fishing circuit,” said Casey Shelton, business manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers System Council U-19.

In 2014, B.A.S.S., Alabama Power, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Shelby County and volunteers from Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation teamed up to open a similar weigh-in pavilion at Beeswax Landing on Lay Lake.

“We are thrilled to work with B.A.S.S., the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the local community to construct this pavilion that will enhance this access point on Smith Lake,” said Zeke Smith, Alabama Power executive vice president of External Affairs. “We look forward to it opening and playing a part in showcasing the state of Alabama’s beautiful waterways.”

The project is expected to be completed in early spring.

“This is a great example of a diverse group of entities coming together to achieve one goal,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We are proud to be a part of this project and continue our mission of accessibility to the natural resources of our great state.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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Credit Repair Companies

Other Auto Loan Possibilities if You Can’t Find a Cosigner

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Many auto lenders ask bad credit borrowers to have a cosigner, but not everyone has that type of advantage. Even if you find a cosigner, it’s not a 100% guarantee that you can drive away with a car. Luckily, there are other bad credit auto loan options for you to explore, and ways to improve your credit for when you’re ready to apply.

Get a Car Loan Without a Cosigner

If you’ve been asked to bring a cosigner when you apply for a car loan, it likely means you have a lower credit score. Cosigners help borrowers get approved for auto loans because they lend you their good credit rating, and lower your risk of default.

However, if you can’t find a cosigner, you’re not alone. Having a cosigner means finding someone that’s willing to put their good credit score on the line, and someone that has enough disposable income to qualify as a cosigner. Without a good credit score or enough income, a cosigner is no good and doesn’t improve your approval odds.

If you’re getting turned away for a car loan because you have a lower credit score and can’t find a cosigner, consider these three possibilities.

1. Give Yourself Some Time to Heal!

This may not be what you want to hear, but if your credit score is suffering and you can’t get approved for new credit, you could take some time to repair it.

Building a good credit score can be hard if you’ve never borrowed before, and it’s hard to get approved for new credit in the first place if your credit score is low. The solution? Smart credit building strategies, such as:

  • Pay down your credit cards – Your credit utilization ratio is a large part of your credit score, and it compares how much you owe on your credit cards vs. how much you’re allowed to borrow. If your credit cards are over 30% of their spending limit (or maxed out), then it’s hurting your credit. Pay down your credit cards as much as you can, and then check your credit in a month, since lenders usually report once a month. You can request your credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Consider a secured credit card – Secured credit cards are usually pretty easy to get into, because they’re secured with your own cash. To get a secured credit card, you have to provide a deposit. The size of your deposit is usually the spending limit on the card. If you close the account while there’s still a balance, your deposit covers the amount, so there’s not much risk for the lender, making them much easier to get approved for over traditional credit cards. While you have to pay a deposit, these cards are reported like traditional credit cards so they can help build your credit history.
  • Become an authorized user – An authorized user is someone that’s allowed to use someone else’s revolving credit (credit card). If you were to become an authorized user, you typically get your own credit card that’s linked to the primary borrower’s account. Any activity done on the credit card is reported on your credit reports. This can be a great way to build your credit score if you can’t get approved for credit on your own, but you need someone to agree to it.
  • Review your credit reports – Mistakes on your credit reports can cause a lower credit score, so it’s worth it to review them and make sure everything is shipshape. If you find a mistake on your reports, you can dispute it and have it corrected. All three major credit reporting agencies allow you to submit disputes online. If you find multiple errors and you’re not sure where to start, you use a credit repair company that can dispute accounts for you, for a fee.

Regardless if you choose to wait until your credit score is the highest you can get it, you can still use these credit building tips usually anytime. Additionally, one of the best things you can do for your credit score is making all of your payments on time. Avoid getting any accounts sent to collections and getting late or missed payments on your credit reports that sour your credit score.

If you needed a vehicle yesterday, though, then consider the next two bad credit auto loan options.

2. Buy Here Pay Here Dealerships

Other Car Loan Possibilities if You Can’t Find a CosignerBuy here pay here (BHPH) dealerships are a one-stop-shop for many bad credit borrowers. The thing that makes these dealers unique is that they utilize in-house financing, where the dealership is also your lender.

In-house financing means there’s usually no credit check, which draws many bad credit buyers to these used car lots. If you can’t find a cosigner and you’re having issues getting approved by traditional lenders, then in-house financing may be for you because a lower credit score isn’t likely to stand in your way of an auto loan approval.

BHPH dealers require a down payment, sometimes around 20% of the vehicle’s selling price. With in-house financing, interest rates tend to be higher than average. However, the large down payment requirement and a higher interest rate could be seen as the trade-offs for getting into a car loan without the credit check.

However, since the BHPH dealerships don’t generally check credit reports, their loans may not be reported to the major credit bureaus, either. This means your auto loan wouldn’t be helping to boost your lower credit score. To improve your credit score, you’d have to use other credit building strategies. But if you need a vehicle quickly and don’t have time for credit repair, then a BHPH dealer may be just what you need in the meantime.

3. Subprime Auto Loans

Where traditional car lenders typically ask their borrowers to bring a cosigner if their credit score is below their credit score requirements, subprime lenders assist borrowers with credit issues. Subprime lenders are third-party lenders who are signed up with special finance dealerships.

Subprime auto loans are reported, meaning that your timely payments can rebuild your credit score – two birds with one stone (or car loan, rather).

There are many reasons why a borrower may have less than stellar credit, so when you apply with a subprime lender, they examine the many parts of your financial health alongside your credit score. This typically means requiring that you meet a certain income level, have had a stable residency and work history, have a down payment, and a few other things that prove you’re ready to take on an auto loan.

Subprime lenders are typically more concerned about your overall stability, ability, and willingness to pay for a vehicle rather than your low credit score. If you want to repair your credit and get the car you need, then subprime financing could be your next step.

Not Sure Where to Start Car Shopping?

Looking for the right lender or dealer can be stressful, and even more so when your credit score isn’t great. If you can’t find a cosigner to give you a credit boost, you don’t have to go it alone! Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve made it easier to get the connections you need.

We’ve gathered a nationwide network of dealerships that work with bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy. To get matched to a dealer in your area for free, complete our auto loan request form.

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Startup Launches Virtual Live DJs Painting Classes During the Global Pandemic

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Paint and Sip Live, a New York-based company offers online wine-and-paint classes each week with professional instructors, live DJs, and a party atmosphere.

Although 2020 has been a tough year for some entrepreneurs, others have spotted opportunities.

In June 2020, three New York entrepreneurs teamed up to launch Paint and Sip LIVE, a Startup that offers virtual painting classes with live DJs, the only of its kind.

Faced with the global pandemic, Mike Wills, Jr., Constance McLeod-Wills, and Sharon Urena understood that people crave meaningful social interactions. The trio set out to develop an activity that enriches people’s lives while keeping them safe at home, socially distancing.

What’s the difference between Paint and Sip LIVE and other online art classes?

Other online painting classes teach you how to paint, but Paint and Sip LIVE teaches you how to paint in a party-like atmosphere featuring live music and a professional DJ.

While most painting classes tend to operate in a quiet and studious atmosphere,  Paint and Sip LIVE brings home the party. Classes feature step-by-step painting instructions of a photographed scenery and are led by a professional artist while a live DJ plays the hottest tunes. Each week, the company hosts theme nights such as Caribbean Fridays, R&B Sundays, and HipHop Saturdays. Even Halloween paint parties!

Paint and slip Event
Paint and slip Upcoming Events includes two Halloween parties.

Wills, an experienced entrepreneur who has launched and exited multiple startups, knew there was potential:

“The mix between an activity, like painting, and music has been a winning combination for Paint and Sip LIVE,” said Wills to The Scope Weekly. “Some of our guests are looking for a date night. Others are looking for a productive activity with kids or friends. We host a party while teaching genuine painting skills.”

Urena, a professional painter, welcomed the opportunity to share her knowledge.

“For me, it’s so much more than a business. It’s an opportunity to help people who may never have picked up a paintbrush to develop a creative mind,” said Urena.

About the team

Mike Wills and Constance McLeod-Wills, a husband-wife team, bring very different skills to the table. Over the last decade, Mike Wills, Jr. co-founded three New York City cleaning services, growing the businesses to earn $3+ million per year in revenue. He also co-founded a credit repair service that was once the fastest-growing credit repair company in the country, with revenue rising 500% in four months.  McLeod-Wills brings her years of project management experience for the City of New York to the table.

Sharon Urena is an accomplished designer serving as the Art Director of Paint and Sip Live, using her experience from the Parsons School of Design to guide and inspire the participants.

McLeod-Wills said, “Most of our attendees have zero or limited painting experience. They’re looking for a fun and productive night for birthdays, family events, and date nights.”

Photo credits:
Sip and Paint Live.

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USA Credit Repair Review

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Consumers looking into credit repair companies are faced with many different options, some better than others. USA Credit Repair falls short of meeting our standards in several areas, including quality of services, pricing structure, and sales practices. Our review breaks down these red flags and more to help you make the most informed decision when approaching credit repair.


Pros Explained

  • Free consultation: Get a credit repair consultation before deciding if you want to commit to services.
  • Offers an accelerated service: If you’re in a rush, you can pay for faster results.
  • Cancel anytime: USA Credit Repair doesn’t lock customers in with long-term contracts.
  • Online portal: Track your progress via a convenient account management portal.

Cons Explained

  • Misleading claims: USA Credit Repair makes several claims regarding fees and guaranteed results that could easily mislead customers.
  • Lack of pricing transparency: The company fails to disclose pricing online, forcing you to talk to a sales agent to get a quote.
  • Website difficult to navigate: It’s hard to find the information you need on USA Credit Repair’s website.
  • No educational resources: We typically like to see credit repair companies provide value with free educational materials, but USA Credit Repair doesn’t make these available.
  • Doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee: USA Credit Repair promises results within the first 30 days but doesn’t back this claim up with any type of financial guarantee.

Types of Services

USA Credit Repair’s services are limited to the bare minimum typically required of a credit repair company. There are no clearly defined service packages, just a single membership option with few opportunities for customization.

Credit report analysis

The first step in USA Credit Repair’s process is a credit report analysis. A credit expert reviews your credit reports in depth, looking for negative items bringing down your score. Each item is carefully examined to determine whether you might have grounds to dispute it with the credit bureau.

Credit disputes

If USA Credit Repair identifies items in your credit reports that are inaccurate, they’ll contact the credit bureaus on your behalf to initiate the dispute process. This includes filing appeals if a dispute is initially denied.

If you believe a credit reporting error comes from the lender’s side, you can also have USA Credit Repair send a validation request to ask for proof that the debt is legitimate. Finally, the company handles goodwill interventions, which can be an option for a small number of people with a single negative mark but overall good credit. If the item is accurate but an anomaly on your report, you may be able to have it removed just by showing an otherwise positive payment history.


Optional Add-ons

Credit repair companies sometimes sell add-ons to their core packages for an extra fee. For example, they may offer credit monitoring or identity theft protection to be used in tandem with their credit repair services. USA Credit Repair doesn’t make any of these available, although it does provide one optional service to speed up the credit repair process.

Accelerated program

Unexpected credit reporting errors can hold up time-sensitive processes such as applying for a mortgage. If you’re on a tight schedule, USA Credit Repair’s accelerated program provides faster results for an additional upfront fee. However, the company doesn’t say exactly how much more efficient its accelerated program is compared to standard service. Without any guarantees, it’s hard to say whether this add-on is even worth it.


Customer Service

Like most credit repair companies, USA Credit Repair stays in touch with customers via phone and email. Operating hours are somewhat limited, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. EST. The company also hosts an online portal where customers can log in and check the status of their credit repair case 24/7.

Each customer is assigned a dedicated case representative who oversees their entire credit repair process from start to finish. While this is fairly common, not every company does it and it makes a big difference in the overall customer experience. With a designated case manager, you’ll always have someone to talk to who is familiar with your specific situation.


Company Reputation

USA Credit Repair’s reputation among customers is mixed. To the company’s credit, it has no complaints registered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which keeps a record of customer-reported issues related to poor business practices and potential legal violations. It also has an average 4-star rating on Google with mixed positive and negative reviews.

However, USA Credit Repair has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and a pile of concerning complaints. Many former customers claim that they were charged hundreds of dollars in advance for services that failed to produce results. There are also reports of harassing phone calls after discontinuing services with the company.

Just because a company doesn’t have any complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doesn’t make it automatically trustworthy. Most consumers don’t know about the CFPB complaint database, and it’s not uncommon for smaller companies like USA Credit Repair to have no complaints. In addition to vetting companies through the CFPB database, you should also look at other resources like the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and Google Reviews.

If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.


Contract Duration

On its website, USA Credit Repair advertises that it has no contracts and offers a “month to month” service that customers can cancel anytime. But according to testimonials from former clients, this isn’t exactly the whole truth. Many customer complaints allege that company representatives convinced them to pay for multiple months ahead of time in one lump sum, typically in three-month quantities. Although this may not technically be considered a long-term contract, it’s a problematic practice, to say the least.


Cost

Our most pressing concern while reviewing USA Credit Repair was its pricing structure. First and foremost, the company doesn’t disclose its prices online. This is typically a red flag, as it forces customers to talk to a sales representative just to get a quote, which opens up opportunities for pitfalls. Pricing may vary by individual and plan, although according to the information we received and reports from customers, base pricing is around $99 per month.

With that said, an overwhelming number of former customers claim that they were charged upward of $300 in advance for multiple months of service. This typically appears to happen after the customer calls in and is convinced by a company representative that their credit repair case will take a certain number of months to resolve. Those who enroll in the accelerated program can expect to pay an additional $350 fee on top of regular service charges.

USA Credit Repair also publishes some misleading information on its website regarding its fee structure. The company advertises no upfront fees, but this is a moot point since the Credit Repair Organizations Act makes it against the law for credit repair companies to collect payment before services have been rendered. To make things worse, hidden in the website’s fine print is a disclaimer that states “an initial setup work fee will be charged within the first week or once initial work is completed.”

One other item we found missing was a discount for couples. It’s fairly standard for credit repair companies to give couples a break on fees when signing up since their reports share much of the same information. With USA Credit Repair, couples have to pay full price for two individual memberships.

The one silver lining is that USA Credit Repair’s initial consultation is free. Not every credit repair company does this. A free consultation is a good opportunity to ask the company hard questions about whether any items stand out on your report as potential errors. If the representative is unable to point to any legitimate mistakes, credit repair may not be necessary for you.

Remember that credit repair companies can’t work magic. If all the information on your credit report is accurate and there are no errors to dispute, you’ll only be able to improve your credit by keeping debt low and making consistent on-time payments.


The Competition: USA Credit Repair vs. CreditNerds

To see if USA Credit Repair was worth the $99 monthly fee, we compared it to CreditNerds, a competitor that offers free basic credit repair. Instead of collecting fees from its customers, CreditNerds makes money by referring clients to affiliate partners.

We were unable to find anything significant in USA Credit Repair’s service offering that wasn’t available through the free CreditNerds plan. If that wasn’t enough, CreditNerds provides some of the most advanced educational tools in the industry—also without charging a dime. CreditNerds gives USA Credit Repair a run for its money and is absolutely worth considering before you sign up for a paid plan.

  USA Credit Repair CreditNerds
Year Founded 2004 2007
Services Offered Credit repair Credit repair, funding
Customer Service Touchpoints Phone, email, client portal Phone, email, client portal
Upfront Fee $99.00 $0
Monthly Fee $99.00 $0


Verdict

Overall, we aren’t impressed with USA Credit Repair’s limited services, especially given the company’s relatively high fee of $99 per month. Several competitors offer complete service packages at significantly lower prices, many of which take a more effective approach that includes credit education and long-term financial planning. Even if USA Credit Repair did provide better value, the company’s advertising practices and lack of transparency make us concerned that customers could easily be misled and fall into traps.



How We Review Credit Repair Companies

Since the credit repair industry is well-known for leading consumers astray, we take a highly critical approach to reviewing companies. Our scoring system analyzes quality of services and pricing, comparing them to industry standards and best practices. We look at each company’s marketing language and flag any misleading terminology. We also give higher scores to companies that provide educational materials to help customers achieve long-term financial success.

Learn more: Read our full Credit Repair Review Methodology here.



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