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Bandit sign enforcement efforts continue in northwest Harris County

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Bandit signs have been banned in public rights of way by state law since 2007, but that hasn’t stopped them from showing up on roadsides, utility poles and even in neighborhoods.

In northwest Harris County, these public rights of way—usually defined as the area from the center of the road out to about 30 feet toward the sidewalk on each side—have been staged as a battleground by public officials and community residents who have been combating illegal bandit signs for decades.

Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman has led the charge with a group of environmental deputies and civilian volunteers who are trained in how to identify and remove signs from areas where they don’t belong.

An uptick in bandit signs along the FM 1960 corridor between I-45 and Highway 249 led him recently to seek approval from the County Commissioner’s Court for “a list of civilian personnel to enforce Bandit Sign Laws in accordance with the Transportation Code,” according to court documents.


“These signs are becoming more and more prevalent,” Herman said. “Citizens hate them, they’re distracting, and they trash up the area.”

The penalties for cluttering up rights of way with signs like “We pay cash for houses” or “No credit needed” are administered two ways. On the criminal side, placing illegal bandit signs is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries up to a $500 fine.

The only catch, Herman said, is that deputies have to witness a person in the act, and these types of offenders are usually hired to go out and place signs in the predawn hours.

The other penalty is a civil offense, levied against businesses deemed to be repeat offenders. If a business is deemed to be skirting the law by continuing to have their bandit signs placed, they can face fines of up to $1000 per day.

In 2013, the county doled out a $106,000 judgment against a credit repair company for violating the bandit sign law. Herman said residents continue to reach out asking what they can do.

“People want communities clean from trash and clutter,” he said.

One of the ways that Herman’s office, along with the county commissioners court, helps empower residents to declutter their neighborhoods is by offering a state certified bandit sign ranger course.


“I’m probably the only constable doing this,” Herman said. “We’re very progressive up here.”

The class teaches volunteers how to pick up and photograph signs. Volunteers can then work with the county attorney’s office to fill out forms to identify companies and file suit, brought by the county attorney, against the company owners.

A community activist who helped set up this collaborative course between the agencies and the public named Larry Lipton was part of the cohort led by State Rep. Patricia Harless, who in 2009 got the bill passed that allowed the state to go after companies.

Lipton has been removing bandit signs for 20 years and said although the county attorney has limited resources, it’s good they have volunteers willing to assist in the effort. He helps volunteers understand the “broken windows” theory as a guide for how offenders may think residents view their community if they allow it to be overrun with signs.

“This is one piece for a cure for less crime in the community,” Lipton said.

Two community members who have taken the bandit sign ranger course, Mary Joseph and Betty Sperry, are active in fighting what Joseph calls the bandit sign “infestation” in their area. Both are decades-long residents who have seen a growing number of bandit signs across the area, which Joseph said looks more rundown than it did 20 years ago.

“When people see this, what are their first impressions … when they drive into 1960?” Sperry said. She was involved with the Renaissance 1960 revitalization initiative a decade ago, which she said, “sort of fell by the wayside,” but got back into the effort when she saw a Nextdoor post from Joseph about the bandit signs.

Joseph put together a group who went through the bandit sign course. She said that from March to June, about 15 people reported they had removed 790 signs from roadways and nailed to utility posts from up and down FM 1960 and cross streets near Champions, Old Oaks, Ponderosa and Huntwick Forest.

“Most community members don’t appreciate the signs,” Joseph said. “I don’t believe they get a lot of paying customers.”

Several businesses that have placed bandit signs were contacted, but all declined to comment for this story.

Joseph and Sperry are concerned for the environment, safety of workers who have to repair the poles, and traffic risks to the community from distracted drivers. The signs may also be detrimental to longtime area businesses that Joseph said must compete with bandit signs getting in the way of their own legitimate signage. Businesses are being forced to abide by “one set of rules and having to deal with people using another,” she said.

The group is able to pull down between 300 and 400 signs per month. Even with what some may regard as significant progress for volunteers “between 40 and 50” with a few retirees Sperry said, she wishes they had more help.

“It would be great if we had stiffer rules beyond the laws,” she said.

Residents like Joseph recognize that the FM 1960 area is a “sitting duck customer for bandit sign offenders” and that law enforcement personnel have more important work to do, but she wants to assist them without being a burden.

She keeps an open communication channel with the group via Facebook and understands that more people will join in if they can go at their own pace without too many restrictions.

“Keep it simple, get the job done,” she said.

Ultimately, she wants the kinds of efforts her group undertakes to spread across the county and into other communities. “If people stop tolerating it, maybe people will stop doing,” Joseph said.

Sperry’s message for would-be bandit sign offenders is clear: “Stop nailing this trash up,” she said. “We don’t want it.”

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Credit Repair Companies

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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CreditRepair.com Credit Repair Review

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One of the most well-known credit repair companies, CreditRepair.com has been helping consumers address credit disputes since the late 1990s. But just because a credit repair company has spent decades in business doesn’t mean it offers the best services. While CreditRepair.com has a competitive range of plans, there are also a few red flags you should know about before you decide to enroll in credit repair services.


Pros Explained

  • Offers a free credit evaluation: Get a free online credit snapshot that includes your credit score, a summary of the negative items on your report, and suggestions for how to address them.
  • Choose from three service levels: CreditRepair.com offers options for basic, moderate, or aggressive credit repair based on your needs.
  • Robust educational library: Even non-customers can take advantage of the free credit information, videos, and interactive calculators at CreditRepair.com.
  • Mobile app available: Download the free CreditRepair.com mobile app to track your progress and get alerts.
  • Option for in-house credit monitoring: Two of CreditRepair.com’s three service packages include ongoing credit monitoring and alerts.

Cons Explained

  • Poor customer reviews: CreditRepair.com gets consistently poor feedback across multiple review sources.
  • Lacks full pricing transparency: Pricing isn’t disclosed up front on CreditRepair.com’s website, and you need to watch out for hidden fees.
  • Limited monthly disputes: Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll only get 15 to 19 disputes per month.
  • Not available in all locations: CreditRepair.com may be unable to offer services in your area of residence due to lack of local legal representation. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t disclose its service areas; you’ll have to enter your address to find out.
  • No money-back guarantee: Many competitors offer a refund if they aren’t able to remove any items from your report, but CreditRepair.com doesn’t have a similar policy.

Types of Services

CreditRepair.com offers three service packages with tiered levels of service. These are designed with the idea that not all customers need the same level of support in repairing their credit; some may just have one or two errors to be corrected while others are in need of a complete overhaul. This allows customers to save money by not paying for services they aren’t likely to ever use.

Direct Plan

The entry-level Direct Plan is the one most suited for individuals with an overall decent credit history, but who could benefit from correcting a small number of errors on their report. The plan comes with up to 15 disputes per month (five per credit bureau), a quarterly credit score update, and access to customer service as needed. However, CreditRepair.com will not dispute inaccurate hard inquiries on your report with this plan.

Standard Plan

The next step up is the Standard Plan. This package includes the same number of monthly credit disputes and credit score checks, but adds a few features useful to those with more extensive credit repair needs. In addition to your quarterly credit score, you’ll also get a personalized analysis as to what has changed and what could still be improved. Ongoing credit monitoring is included with alerts sent anytime there is a significant change. CreditRepair.com will also dispute hard inquiries on your behalf.

Advanced Plan

If you have extremely poor credit and need improvements that go beyond disputing inaccurate information, the Advanced Plan may be more suited to your needs. The package includes roughly the same credit repair benefits as the Standard Plan, although you’ll get 19 disputes per month instead of 15. However, the plan also comes with $1 million in identity theft insurance and access to personal finance tracking tools to help you better manage your open credit accounts.

Service Direct Plan Standard Plan Advanced Plan
Monthly items disputed 19 15 15
Credit score checked Monthly Quarterly Quarterly
Credit score analysis Monthly Quarterly  
Customer support
Credit monitoring  
Hard inquiry disputes  
Identity theft insurance    
Credit account management tool    

Optional Add-ons

Between CreditRepair.com’s three tailored plans, there isn’t much need for add-on services. With that said, the company does sell one optional extra that can be tacked onto any package.  

Quickstart Service

If you’ve just discovered errors in your credit report while in the process of a major financial event (such as applying for a mortgage), you’re probably on a tight schedule to correct the issue. CreditRepair.com’s Quickstart service charges a small one-time fee to automatically retrieve your TransUnion credit report from partner site Credit.com and load it into their system. This can save a bit of time as CreditRepair.com won’t have to wait to start looking through your report.

Pay close attention as you’re completing the checkout process on CreditRepair.com. The company automatically checks the box selecting Quickstart, and unless you uncheck it, you’ll be charged an extra $14.99 for a service that you may not want or need.


Customer Service

CreditRepair.com’s main customer service touchpoints are via email and phone, the latter of which is operated Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. MST.

Customers can also download a mobile app for easier access to their account dashboard and credit score tracker. The app is available for both iOS and Android and gets generally positive reviews with at least four-star ratings in both app stores.


Company Reputation

From an objective standpoint, CreditRepair.com’s services appear to offer good value with a broad range of services. Unfortunately, however, many customers seem to disagree. The company has a D rating from the Better Business Bureau, 62 complaints in the past three years, and a three-star average rating.

More worrisome is that CreditRepair.com has been the subject of 16 complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the past three years and was even sued by the agency in 2019. According to the lawsuit, CreditRepair.com and a competitor owned by the same holding company, Lexington Law, both violated telemarketing laws and charged illegal credit repair fees before any service had been rendered. This violates the Credit Repair Organizations Act, which states credit repair companies cannot collect payment before providing their services.

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

None of CreditRepair.com’s service plans are subject to contracts, meaning you can cancel anytime without penalty. According to the company, most customers need to pay membership fees for an average of six months to see results.


Cost

CreditRepair.com prices its services according to the table below, with fees ranging between $69.95 and $119.95 per month depending on the plan you choose. Those who select the Quickstart service will incur an additional one-time fee of $14.99.

  Direct Plan Standard Plan Advanced Plan
Monthly fee $69.95 $99.95 $119.95

To stay in compliance with the Credit Repair Organizations Act, CreditRepair.com calls its first month of membership fees a “first work fee”. This is because credit repair companies aren’t allowed to start charging monthly fees until they’ve already begun performing work. From a practical standpoint, this doesn’t change anything for the consumer, but it’s something to be aware of as you’re signing up for credit repair.


The Competition: CreditRepair.com vs. The Credit Pros

No two credit repair services are the same. To gauge how CreditRepair.com stacks up against the competition, we pitted it against The Credit Pros. Both companies charge similar monthly fees for their entry-level plans, although The Credit Pros’ most premium plan is pricier than CreditRepair.com’s most expensive option. The Credit Pros also charges a significant upfront fee whereas CreditRepair.com has none.

While The Credit Pros is higher in price, we find the difference justified. All packages include credit monitoring and identity theft protection, items CreditRepair.com only offers with higher-tier plans. The Credit Pros will also submit unlimited disputes on your behalf, while CreditRepair.com places a cap on the number of disputes per month at each of its service levels. Finally, The Credit Pros offers financial management tools to all of its credit repair customers that CreditRepair.com doesn’t match. These include bill payment reminders, a budgeting system, and automatic syncing with your open accounts.

  CreditRepair.com The Credit Pros
Year Founded 1997 2009
Services Offered Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection, financial planning
Customer Service Touchpoints Phone, email, mobile app Phone, email, client portal
Upfront Fee $0 $119.00 to $149.00
Monthly Fee $69.95 to $119.95 $69.00 to $149.00


Verdict

Looking at CreditRepair.com’s plans and services, they seem to provide much better value than competitors, especially considering the inclusion of credit monitoring and identity theft protection with premium packages. However, we’re highly concerned with the volume of customer complaints and CreditRepair.com’s history of facing legislation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s best to proceed with caution with this company.



How We Review Credit Repair Companies

We assess a variety of factors to review credit repair companies, using a quantitative scoring system to assign each a total score out of five possible points. Our method looks at the services offered by each company, including the number and variety of plans available and their value in terms of pricing. We also look at each company’s reputation among customers and with third-party agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Finally, we walk through the customer purchasing experience to see what you can expect if you decide to enroll in credit monitoring services.

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




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ADR Financial Group makes its name as one of The Best Credit Repair Companies in the USA

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Your credit score plays a vital role when it comes to buying a car, purchasing a home or obtaining a loan for any other purpose like starting a business. In cases where you have a lower credit score, these purchases may become unrealistic and impossible to achieve. It may result in having to pay higher interest rates or putting down a large down payment. Having negative marks on your credit report will hamper your creditworthiness which is why it is important to stay on top of your finances. 

Within a short period of time, ADR Financial Group quickly raised to the top as one of the best credit repair companies in the United States. Founded by Alexis (“Lex”) DeWitt and Ratiq (“Rocky”) DeWitt, ADR Financial Group is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. ADR Financial  Group is dedicatedly assisting their  its clients with the removal of inaccurate, erroneous, and unverifiable accounts on their credit report. With a mission to deliver a clean credit profile to its their clients, ADR Financial Group also educates their clients on how to achieve the highest credit scores during restoration. 

ADR Financial  Group is not your typically credit repair company.  What separates ADR apart from all, is the fact that their program is personalized to fit their client needs,  rather than providing a generic procedure for all. Although credit is an important aspect of life it is not taught in schools or institutions. This is the sole reason behind the establishment of ADR Financial Group. Over the years, ADR helped many of their clients reach their financial goals . Till date, ADR has helped more than 700 families purchase their dream home, removed more than $17 million of debt from credit reports and deleted over 72,000 negative accounts.

Some of the services offered by the company are Full-Service Credit repair, DIY Credit Repair, Tradelines, Credit Education, Business Credit and Credit Monitoring. Moreover, ADR also teaches other entrepreneurs how to start their own credit repair company to help change lives. Check out their website www.badcreditcostmore.com if you’re interested in their services. 

In the next 5 years, the company plans to be a pioneer for all those who find difficulty in purchasing their homes. ADRs target is to help 5000 families in building a home of their dreams. Besides this, ADR plans to make financial literacy a topic of discussion in many schools and households. ADR is making a significant impact in urban 

(Syndicated press content)

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