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Best Credit Repair Companies & Services of 2021

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Are you struggling to access a loan or paying exorbitant interest rates due to a bad credit score? 

A bad credit score could deteriorate your financial health and be your source of constant pain. You could fix your credit problems yourself or employ the services of a good credit repair company.

3 Best Credit Repair Companies [Reviews]

Are you looking for a credit repair company to work with, and you still can’t settle for one yet? There are many credit repair companies in the market and making a choice can be a hard nut to crack.

Not to worry though are, we scoured the market and identified three credit repair companies based on their cost and terms of service and finally settled on three:

#1. Credit Saint – Best Overall & Editor’s Pick

Blue Ribbon Group

Brand Overview

As the name suggests, the company is a real saint when it comes to credit repair matters.

Credit Saint has more than 15 years of experience in helping clients fix their credit issues.

They start by giving you a free consultation with a credit expert who will pull your credit reports from the three bureaus- TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The expert will then allow you to go through your accounts for any errors. When you identify the mistakes, the expert will determine the next course of action.

Credit saints work on challenging harmful and inaccurate information such as late payments, repossessions, judgments, identity thefts, charge offs and collections. The company knows that when it comes to credit repair, one size does not fit all.

They offer three packages that are custom-made to suit individual needs.

A clean slate is a competitive package that offers you unlimited challenges to the three credit bureaus. It also provides you credit score analysis and acts as a mediator between you, the credit bureaus, and the creditors.

If you subscribe to this package, the company will stop collectors from harassing you by sending them to cease and desist letters on your behalf and track your credit score. The package also offers inquiry targets and Experian monitoring.

You will pay an initial fee of 195 dollars and a monthly fee of 119.99 dollars and have unlimited challenges to incorrect items per dispute cycle.

The credit remodels package offers you unlimited challenges to the three credit bureaus, credit score analysis, inquiry targets, Experian monitoring, ten challenges to incorrect items per dispute cycle, and credit score tracking. You’ll pay an initial work fee of 99.0 dollars and a monthly fee of 99.9 dollars.

The credit polish package offers you an opportunity to challenge the three credit bureaus, credit score analysis, and tracks your score. You pay an initial fee of 99 dollars and a subsequent monthly payment of 79.99 dollars for this package. With this package, the company offers you five challenges to wrong items appearing on your credit report per dispute cycle.

Apart from attractive packages, you have unlimited access to your online account where you can monitor your progress and 90-day money-back guarantees if you are not satisfied with your progress.

Once they fix your credit issues, they do not leave it at that; they continue supplying you with educational resources to help you maintain a good credit score.

Click Here to Visit the Official Website of Credit Saint

#2. The Credit People – Best Guarantee

Blue Ribbon Group

Brand Overview

The Credit People was founded in 2001 and had been operating for the last 20 years.

They have a team of certified staff trained in the fair credit reporting act (FCRA) and undergo training regularly.

The credit people have an excellent customer care team to respond to your queries on time and are available between 8 am and 5 pm.

The company works to dispute inaccurate and unfair items in your credit report that could lower your credit score and recommend ways of improving your credit score. You get a seven-day trial period by paying an initial fee of 39 dollars.

If you are satisfied with their services within the free trial period, you can choose to subscribe by paying a monthly fee of 89 dollars, including the initial credit report. You have 24-hour access to your online account, and you can cancel your subscription at any time.

If you are not the monthly term type of person, you can opt to subscribe to a flat rate membership by paying a one-off membership fee of 419 dollars for six months which will be cheaper than the monthly subscription. You will also get a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their services.

The Credit People are useful for clients with simple credit problems and help remove inaccurate negative information from your credit report or accurate information that credit bureaus or financial institutions cannot verify.

Before you sign up with them, the Credit People lay all the necessary information on the table regarding what they can or can’t do, and they have no hidden charges.

You can contact their customer care through phone calls or email, and they will help you no matter how low your credit score is since they have no minimum credit score level. 

The Credit People work by disputing inaccurate information such as:

  • Identity errors
  • Liens
  • Charge offs
  • Closed accounts 
  • Late payments
  • Identity errors
  • Judgments
  • Negative settlements 

The Credit people may not be the best choice for people who need to fix complex credit issues such as bankruptcy, foreclosures, and repossessions. They are flexible, transparent and will give you personalized attention and free access to your credit reports.

Click Here to Visit the Official Website of The Credit People

#3. CreditRepair.com – Best Credit Repair App

Blue Ribbon Group

Brand Overview

CreditRepair.com was established in 1997 and has helped Americans fix their credit problems for 24 years. They work by removing and disputing errors or additions to your credit report that could be lowering your credit score.

CreditRepair.com starts by offering you a free consultation to evaluate your credit score and give recommendations on how to improve it. They then help to fix your credit score in three steps.

First, they pull your credit reports from the three bureaus; second, they give you a chance to go through the reports to identify any errors; and lastly, they determine the suitable course of action.

CreditRepair.com offers three types of packages, each with a different initial fee rate and monthly fee rate.

It is the basic package with an initial fee of 14.95 dollars and a monthly fee of 69.95 dollars. A direct package is suitable for people who want to fix a few credit issues. 

The package offers 25000 dollars’ worth of identity theft protection, a full month of credit monitoring, and three credit bureaus’ interventions.

The standard package is the mid-level package with an initial fee of 14.95 dollars and a monthly fee of 99.95 dollars. The package offers full month credit monitoring,25000 dollars’ worth of identity theft protection, and six interventions to the three credit bureaus.

A premium package has an initial fee of 4.95 dollars and a monthly fee of 119.95 dollars. The package comes with advantages such as 1 million dollars’ worth of identity theft protection, full-time credit monitoring from the credit bureaus, and eight interventions to the credit bureaus.

CreditRepair.com challenges inaccurate negative entries in your credit report or accurate entries that cannot be verified. 

They are suitable for:

  • Outdated additions
  • Collections
  • Judgments
  • Late Payments
  • Charge offs
  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcy
  • Repossessions

Before you can sign up, you should know that they do not offer a money-back guarantee or hidden charges. You will get various benefits such as free access to your credit report summary and 24-hour free access to your online account.

CreditRepair.com does not offer credit counseling or debt consolidation. Instead, they offer you free access to their library, which has tones of articles on credit improvement, debt solutions, loans, and savings,

You can access your credit reports anytime using their mobile app, which is compatible with Android and IOS systems.

CreditRepair.com will keep you updated on your credit progress by allowing you access to the credit score tracker. If you do not want to miss any activity on your credit report, you can create email or SMS alerts.

Click Here to Visit the Official Website of CreditRepair.com

How Do Credit Repair Services Work?

Credit repair services work by fixing lousy credit reports for a fee. They work on your behalf to challenge inaccurate and negative information from your credit report that could be lowering your credit score. They also look out for accurate entries that cannot be verified and dispute them.

What Do Credit Repair Companies Do?

Credit repair companies act as your representative to credit bureaus or financial institutions responsible for your credit report’s negative information. The companies challenge the institutions accountable to delete or modify the information so that it will have a positive impact on your credit report.

A good credit repair company will get credit reports from the three credit bureaus, review the information and allow you to check the report to identify errors. 

They will also teach you how a credit score is determined and help you understand your credit report. The company then points out areas where they could help and offer advice on maintaining a good credit score.

Credit repair companies specifically identify and challenges issues like:

  • Payment history
  • Outdated negative items
  • Double entries
  • Late payments
  • Judgments
  • Bankruptcies
  • Foreclosures
  • Liens
  • Accounts that you no longer own
  • Misspellings or errors due to similar names
  • Invalid or unverifiable debts

Credit repair companies may request credit bureaus or financial institutions to validate information or send letters to the credit bureaus to dispute negative items and send cease and desist letters to your creditors on your behalf.

Credit repair companies use different ways of communicating with the bureaus or financial institutions. Some prefer sending emails or letters, while some prefer to continually send letters to the bureaus to address disputes. If the argument is not settled within 30 days as specified by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the account is deleted automatically.

Credit repair companies charge you to fix your credit report, and they do so differently.

The companies use different approaches to charge you for the services, and the costs also vary from one company to the other. 

Some credit repair companies will charge you every month with an initial fee, while some will charge you once they successfully influence the deletion of items from your credit report.

These companies also offer different packages, allowing you to choose a package that suits your needs. 

Why Should You Work With A Credit Repair Company?

While you can fix credit report issues on your own, the process could be frustrating and very time-consuming. You may be receiving numerous phone calls or emails from creditors that could be distracting your resting time or quality time spent with your family.

A credit repair company steps in to remove inaccurate information from your credit report that could negatively affect your credit score. A credit repair company will also check your credit report for any unwanted information or any accurate information that could lower your credit score and not be verified.

Most people think that a bad credit score only affects them if they want to access loans, but this is not true. There are many other ways that a bad credit score can affect your life, giving you more reasons to work with a credit repair company.

Below are some of the reasons why you should work with a credit repair company to fix a bad credit score:

  • Start Paying Lower or No Security Deposits

Most phone service providers will check your credit score before they can offer services. A bad credit score may imply a higher risk of defaulting payments. For the company to mitigate the risk, they charge you a deposit as security. If you have a high credit score, you may not need to pay any deposit.

  • Avoid High Insurance Rates

Insurance service providers check your credit score first before they can decide which type of services you are eligible for and how much in premiums you should pay. 

If your credit score is low, it means that you are a high-risk client, and therefore, they will charge you higher in premiums compared to clients with a high credit score.

A low credit score may make it difficult for you to access a credit card which means you’ll pay cash for products or services. Some sellers and service providers charge higher for cash-paying clients compared to those using credit cards.

Your credit score directly affects your credit limit. If you want to grow your credit limit with your providers, you have to fix your credit score, which is where credit repair companies come in.

Nothing is more annoying than numerous phone calls, text messages, and emails from debt collectors telling you the same thing. Debt collectors can interfere with your peace of mind and affect your relationship with friends, colleagues, and family. Credit repair companies step in and take this burden off your shoulders.

A bad credit score could be standing between you and your dream house or car. You may not be able to access a mortgage, a business, or an auto loan due to a low credit score. Fixing a low credit score will ensure that you access these loans and pay lower and reasonable interest rates.

Some employers check your credit score before they can hire you. A low credit score could be the reason why you are passing interviews with a low hire rate. You could fix this issue with the help of a credit repair company.

  • Avoid Looking for Co-signers

With a low credit score, accessing a loan may be difficult, and if you are lucky, you may need to look for someone to cosign for you. With the current economic times, getting one may be as hard as getting a loan in the first place.

Tips for Working with Credit Repair Companies?

There are both genuine and substandard products in every market, but both end up in the hands of unsuspecting customers. There are many credit repair companies, making promises but not all will fulfill half of those promises. 

When you are choosing a credit repair company, look out for:

  • Companies that demand payment before providing services

The credit repair organization act (CROA) stipulates that no credit repair company should ask for any fee upfront. The company will be violating the act and could be a scam too.

  • Companies asking for a one-time fee

Credit repair takes time. If a company asks you to pay a one-off fee, they could be trying to scam you off your hard-earned cash. Shun them at your earliest opportunity.

  • Companies that ask you to make false statements

It is illegal in any state to make false statements regarding your credit information. The company could land you in legal issues and is also in violation of CROA.

  • Companies that ask you to change identity

Some credit repair companies may ask you to change your identity by using someone else’s social security number to escape the credit bureaus. Doing this is illegal, and you should avoid such companies.

  • Companies that guarantee to remove information from your credit report

Whether or not an item will be removed from your credit report cannot be guaranteed. A company using this as their selling point may only be trying to lure you to work with them.

  • Companies that ask you to dispute accurate information

A good credit repair company should only help you dispute inaccurate information in your credit report or accurate report that data furnishers cannot verify. If they ask you otherwise, the more reason you should not work with them.

  • Companies that withhold essential information

Before you start working with a credit repair company, they are obligated to inform you of your right to sue them if they violate CROA and your right to dispute your credit information without any charges. Look out for companies that fail to provide this information and avoid them.

  • Companies that promise you a specific credit score

If a company promises you a particular credit score, that is too good to be true.

Many factors influence your credit score, and no company can guarantee a specific credit score.

 

  • Companies that cite affiliations or special relationships with government or credit bureaus

Credit bureaus operate under the fair credit reporting act. A credit repair company claiming to have a relationship with these bureaus claiming to have a special relationship with these bureaus could be a scam. It could leave you with more problems than solutions.

 

As much as finding a trustworthy credit repair company is not easy, there are still good ones you can find out there. 

 

These are the types of companies you should work with:

  • Companies with a proven track record

If a credit company has worked for other people, it means it could also work for you. Most credit repair companies have websites where you can get reviews from their previous clients. You could also consider getting referrals from your friends or relatives.

  • Companies with a good relationship with credit bureaus

A credit repair company in a good position with the credit bureaus is more likely to fix your credit problems than one that is not. A company will not improve your problems if it needs fixing itself.

  • Companies that are legally accredited

When you are looking to hire a credit repair company’s services, look out for companies that operate within the law. Some credit repair companies may leave you in legal issues instead of fixing your credit score.

  • Companies that give you a contract

A good credit repair company should provide you a detailed contract with payment terms, contact details, and what they can and can’t do. Only work with credit repair companies that allow you to read and understand the contract first before you can start any business.

  • Companies that give you a money-back guarantee

When a credit repair company gives you a money-back guarantee, it means that they are confident in their ability to fix your low credit issues. Companies that do not offer a money-back guarantee cannot guarantee you good results, and you may end up wasting your money.

  • Companies that give prompt results

Most credit companies charge you for their services every month. A company taking too long to give results may be taking advantage of your monthly subscription because you are obligated to pay each month. Work with a company that can give you timely results and saves on cost.

Know What Credit Repair Companies Can and Can’t Do

Many credit repair companies make a lot of promises to entice their customers. The truth is, credit repair services are governed by the credit repair organization act, which stipulates what they can or can’t do.

Before signing up for any credit repair company, it is important to know what they can or can’t do lest you become a victim of scams.

  • What Credit Repair Companies Can Do

Credit repair companies can pull your credit from the three credit bureaus and have a credit expert go through it in detail to see where they can step in. 

The expert then identifies mistakes in the report, such as errors in payment history, double entries, and expired negative items from the three credit bureaus since different institutions furnish data to various bureaus.

Credit repair companies can dispute inaccurate negative information on your credit reports that could be lowering your credit score on your behalf. They do so by communicating on your behalf to credit bureaus, financial institutions, money lenders, and debt collectors.

A good credit repair company should inform you of your right to dispute inaccurate information on your credit report on your own and your right to sue the company if they violate the credit reporting organization act.

The company should also provide you with a detailed contract stating terms of service, terms of payment, and the duration is taken to get results. In case of any hidden charges, the company should inform you before you sign up with them.

  • What Credit Repair Companies Cannot Do

According to the credit repair organization act, credit report companies cannot ask you to dispute accurate negative information on your credit report unless the data cannot be verified. They also cannot delete any negative information appearing on your credit report. They can only challenge and leave the decision with credit bureaus.

Some credit repair companies can ask you to change your identity by asking you to change your social security number, but this is illegal according to the law. Credit repair companies should not charge you before they can render services or guarantee to change your credit score.

Credit repair companies should not ask you to provide false information to the credit bureaus to prevent them from associating you with a bad credit score. They should not ask you to open new accounts or pressure you to disclose personal information that may not be necessary while fixing a negative credit score.

FAQs About Credit Card Companies

There are many areas of clarification regarding credit repair. We have attempted to address some of the frequently asked questions as follows:

Q. How long does it take to repair your credit?

There is no timeline as to when credit repair companies can repair your credit report. Some will take a short time and some longer depending on the type of negative information on your credit report, age of the negative news, previous credit rating, and the number of negative remarks on the report.

It will take a shorter time to fix a late payment than to settle a bankruptcy or foreclosure. When a credit repair company sends a dispute letter to the credit bureaus, they have a month to respond to the dispute. If any conflicts are involved, you can expect the process to take longer.

Different types of negative information take other times to fall off the credit report naturally. For example, late payments, charge offs, and foreclosures could take up to 7 years to clear from your credit report. Hard inquiries could take up to 2 years, and bankruptcy could take up to 10 years.

Q. How to Avoid Credit Repair Scams?

Before you can avoid a scam, you should know how to spot one from a distance. You could be thinking that you are working with a legitimate company only to find out when it is too late.

This is how you know that you are dealing with one:

  • Companies that ask you to pay for services upfront.
  • A credit repair company that asks you to dispute accurate information from your credit report
  • A company that asks you to give false information for you to access a credit facility
  • A company that fails to inform you of your legal rights to dispute credit information on your own.
  • A company that does not provide a detailed contract before you can start any business dealings
  • A company that does not offer you a money-back guarantee. Strictly stay away from these companies. 
  • A company that promises you a particular credit score

You can avoid scams by vetting the credit repair company before you can hire them. Visit the company’s website for real reviews or check online for the best credit repair companies. You could also ask your friends or relatives to recommend companies they have worked with before.

Q. How Do Credit Repair Companies Get Items Removed?

Getting negative items removed from your credit report may not be easy, but it is possible.

Credit repair companies get negative items removed in different ways:

Writing Dispute Letters to The Credit Bureaus

Once a credit repair company identifies inaccurate negative information on your credit report, their next course of action is to dispute the item and get it removed from the report.

The company writes a dispute letter to the debt collectors, financial institutions, or credit bureaus requesting them to delete the item.

In some cases, the companies use the “jamming” strategy to repeatedly send the letters to the bureaus or debt collectors. If they don’t respond within 30 days, the account will be closed.

Writing cease and Desist Letters to debt collectors on your behalf.

Credit repair companies act as mediators between you and debt collectors. The company may write a letter to debt collectors asking them to desist from harassing you for payment as they await the negative items to be removed from your credit report.

Negotiating for Pay for Delete with Creditors

Credit repair companies can contact your creditors on your behalf to negotiate for a pay for delete option. The company asks you to pay the debt, and the creditors agree to delete the negative comment from your credit report once they receive the payment.

Writing Good Will Letters

Once the credit bureaus have deleted a negative item, your credit repair company can write a goodwill letter to your financial institution asking them to update the information on your credit report.

Q. Do Credit Repair Companies Work?

Credit repair companies work and have helped clients worldwide fix their low credit score and access loan facilities. The companies allow you to identify errors that could lower your credit score, dispute errors with the three credit bureaus, and intervene on your behalf to debt collectors who could be harassing you.

Credit repair companies have a team of trained attorneys who understand the laws and could be in a better position to have negative items removed from your credit report. The companies will save you time and energy you could have spent going back and forth with debt collectors. However, you should be careful to choose a credit repair company that has been reviewed and has a proven track record.

Q. What Is Credit Repair?

Credit repair is the process of fixing a low credit score that could be making it difficult for you to access credit facilities such as loans and mortgages or secure a new job. You could attempt to repair the credit score yourself for free or employ a credit repair company’s services at a fee. 

In both scenarios, the process is the same- pulling credit reports from the credit bureaus, evaluating the reports for any errors, and disputing those errors with credit bureaus, financial institutions, or debt collectors.

Credit repair is legal at the federal level. It is done by attempting to remove inaccurate negative information appearing on your credit report or challenging an accurate report that cannot be verified.

In Conclusion – Which Credit Repair Company Should You Prefer?

A bad credit score can negatively affect you financially, making it difficult to access a loan or paying high-interest rates for one. You can fix your credit score or hire a credit repair company. 

Credit repair companies make it easier to improve your credit score because they understand the legal processes involved, thus saving you time.

It would be best if you considered hiring a credit repair company that is credible, transparent, and flexible to suit your needs, as we did and chose Credit Saint as the best credit repair company. We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision on the best credit repair company to fix your credit score.

 

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Bad Credit

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders

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Illustration by Sarah Maxwell, Folio Art

When Bridget Davis got started in the family’s payday lending business in 1996, there was just one Check ’n Go store in Cincinnati. She says she did it all: customer service, banking duties, even painting walls.

The company had been established two years earlier by her husband, Jared Davis, and was growing rapidly. There were 100 Check ’n Go locations by 1997, when Jared and Bridget (née Byrne) married and traveled the country together looking for more locations to open storefront outlets. They launched another 400 stores in 1998, mostly in strip malls and abandoned gas stations in low-income minority neighborhoods where the payday lending target market abounds. Bridget drove the supply truck and helped select locations and design the store layouts.

But Jared soon fired his wife for committing what may be the ultimate sin in the payday lending business: She forgave a customer’s debt. “A young woman came to pay her $20 interest payment,” Bridget wrote in court documents last year during divorce proceedings from Jared. “I pulled her file, calculated that she had already paid $320 to date on a principle [sic] loan of $100. I told her she was paid in full. [Jared] fired me, stating, ‘We are here to make money, not help customers manage theirs. If you can’t do that, you can’t work here.’ ”

Photograph by Brittany Dexter

It’s a business philosophy that pays well, especially if you’re charging fees and interest rates of 400 percent that can more than triple the amount of the loan in just five months—the typical time most payday borrowers need to repay their debt, says the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization focused on public policy. Cincinnati-based Check ’n Go now operates more than 1,100 locations in 25 states as well as an internet lending service with 24/7 access from the comfort of your own home, according to its website. Since its founding, the company has conducted more than 50 million transactions.

What the website doesn’t say is that many, if not most, of those transactions were for small loans of $50 to $500 to working people trying to scrape by and pay their bills. In most states—including Ohio, until it reformed its payday lending laws in 2019—borrowers typically fork over more than one-third of their paycheck to meet the deadline for repayment, usually in two weeks. To help guarantee repayment, borrowers turn over access to their checking account or deposit a check with the lender. In states that don’t offer protection, customers go back again and again to borrow more money from the same payday lender, typically up to 10 times, driving themselves into a debt trap that can lead to bankruptcy.

Jared and Bridget Davis are embroiled in a nasty court battle related to his 2019 divorce filing in Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court. Thousands of pages of filings and 433 docket entries by April 26 offer the public a rare glimpse into the business operations of Check ’n Go, one of Cincinnati’s largest privately-owned companies, as well as personal lifestyles funded by payday lending.

The company cleared $77 million in profit in 2018, a figure that dipped the following year to $55 million, according to an audit by Deloitte. That drop in revenue may have something to do with the payday lending reform laws and interest rate caps passed recently in Ohio as well as a growing number of other states.


The day-to-day business transactions that provide such profit are a depressing window into how those who live on the edge of financial security are often stuck with few options for improving their situations. If a borrower doesn’t repay or refinance his or her original loan, a lender like Check ’n Go deposits the guarantee check and lets it bounce, causing the borrower to incur charges for the bounced check and eventually lose his or her checking account, says Nick DiNardo, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. After two missed payments, payday lenders usually turn over the debt to a collection agency. If the collection agency fails to collect the full amount of the original loan as well as all fees and interest, it goes to court to garnish the borrower’s wages.

That devastating experience is all too familiar to Anthony Smith, a 60-year-old Wyoming resident who says he was laid off from several management positions over a 20-year period. He turned to payday lenders as his credit rating dropped and soon found himself caught in a debt trap that took him years to escape.

Two things happened in 2019, Smith says, that turned around his financial fortunes. First, he found a stable manufacturing job with the Formica Company locally, and then he took his mother’s advice and opened a credit union account. GE Credit Union not only gave him a reasonable loan to pay off his $2,500 debt but also issued him his first credit card in a decade. “I had been a member [of the credit union] for just two months, and I had a credit rating of 520. Can you imagine?” he says. Smith says he is now debt-free for the first time in 10 years.

Consumer advocates say Check ’n Go is one of the biggest payday lending operations in the nation. But knowing its exact ranking is difficult because most payday lending companies, including Check ’n Go and its parent company CNG Holdings, are privately held and reluctant to disclose their finances.

Brothers Jared and David Davis own the majority of the company’s privately held stock. David bought into the company in 1995, but CNG got its game-changing infusion of capital from the brothers’ father, Allen Davis, who retired as CEO of then-Provident Bank in 1998. Allen sold off $37 million in stock options and essentially became CNG’s bank and consultant.

By 2005, however, the sons were part of a public court battle against their father. Allen accused Jared and David of treating his millions in CNG stock as compensation instead of a transfer from his ex-wife (and the brothers’ mother), sticking him with a $13 million tax bill. In turn, the brothers accused Allen of putting his mistress and his yacht captain on the company payroll, taking $1.2 million in fees without board approval, and leading the company into ventures that lost Check ’n Go a lot of money. Several years of legal fighting later, the IRS was still demanding its $13 million. CNG officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Jared and David split $22 million in profit from CNG in 2018 and, according to the Deloitte audit, CNG’s balance sheet showed another $42 million that could be split between the two brothers in 2019. Jared, however, elected not to receive his $21 million distribution “in order to create this artificial financial crisis and shelter millions of dollars from an equitable split between us,” according to Bridget’s divorce filing.

Worse, she claims, Jared said they would be responsible for paying taxes out of their personal accounts rather than from CNG’s company earnings, making her personally responsible for half of the $5.5 million in taxes for 2019. She believes it wasn’t happenstance that $5.5 million was wired to Jared’s private bank account in December of that same year. Bridget has refused to sign the joint tax return, and Jared filed a complaint with the court saying a late tax filing would cost them $1 million in penalties and missed tax opportunities.

“For the duration of our marriage and to the present, Jared has full and complete control of all money paid to us from various investments we have made in addition to our main source of income, CNG,” Bridget wrote in her motion. She suspects that Jared, without her knowledge or consent, plowed the money for their taxes and from other sources of income into Black Diamond Group, the fund that invests in the Agave & Rye restaurant chain. Beyond the original restaurant opened in Covington in 2018, “they have opened four other locations in one year,” she wrote, including Louisville and Lexington. (The ninth location opened in Hamilton this spring.) Agave & Rye’s website touts its Mexican fare as “a chef-inspired take on the standard taco, elevating this simple food into something epic!”

In his response, Jared wrote, “We have very limited regular sources of income.” He says he isn’t receiving any additional distributions from CNG, the couple’s primary source of income, “and this is not within my control. The company has declared that we would not make any further distributions in 2020 given economic circumstances. This decision is based on a formula and is not discretionary.” Agave & Rye helped produce $645,000 in income for Black Diamond in 2020 but has paid out $890,000 in loans, he says. Through August 31, 2020, he wrote, the couple’s “expenses have exceeded income from all sources.”


The divorce case filings start slinging mud when the couple accuses each other of breaking up their 22-year marriage and finding new partners. Jared claims Bridget began an affair during their marriage with Brian Duncan, a contractor she employed through her house flipping business. Bridget, he says, paid Duncan’s company $75,000 in 2018 as well as giving him a personal gift of $70,000 that same year. Jared says she also bought Duncan at least one car and purchased a house for him near hers on Shawnee Run Road for $289,000, then loaned money to Duncan. Jared says Duncan has been late in repaying the note.

While Bridget says Duncan has been drug-free for several years, he has a rap sheet with Hamilton County courts from 2000 to 2017 that runs five pages long. It lists a half-dozen counts of drug abuse and drug possession, including heroin and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia; assaulting a police officer; stealing a Taser from a police officer; criminal damaging while being treated at UC Health; more than a dozen speeding and traffic violations; a half-dozen counts of driving with a suspended license; receiving stolen property; twice fleeing and resisting arrest; three counts of theft; two counts of forgery; and one count for passing bad checks.

Bridget has fired back that Jared not only is hiding his money from her but spending it lavishly on vacations, resorts, and high-end restaurants with his new girlfriend, Susanne Warner. Bridget says Jared gifted Warner with $40,000 without Bridget’s knowledge, then declared it on their joint tax return as a “contribution.” Bridget’s court filings include photocopies of social media posts of Jared and Warner globetrotting from summer 2019 to summer 2020: vacation at Beaver Creek Village in Avon, Colorado; cocktails at High Cotton in Charleston, South Carolina, and dinner at Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge in Palm Springs, California; getaways at resorts in Nashville and at a lakefront rental on Norris Lake ($600 per night); in the Bahamas at a Musha Cay private residence ($57,000 per night), at South Beach in Miami, and at a private beach at Fisher Island; in Mexico at Cabo San Lucas; in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Magen’s Bay and on a private yacht ($4,500 per night); in California at Desert Hot Springs, the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, and Montage at Laguna Beach; and in the Bahamas at South Cottage ($2,175 per night).

For her part, Bridget has gone through some of the top lawyers in town faster than President Trump during an impeachment—six in all, two of whom she’s sued for malpractice. She sent four binders of evidence to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking for the recusal of Hamilton County Judge Amy Searcy and claiming Searcy was biased because of campaign donations from Jared and his companies. Rather than deal with the list of questions sent to her by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Searcy stepped down. Two other judges have since stepped into the fray, and in March Bridget filed for a change of venue outside of Hamilton County, arguing she can’t get a fair trial in her hometown. At press time, a trial date had been set for June 28 in Hamilton County.

The poor-mouthing in the divorce case has reached heights of comic absurdity. Jared claims he’s “illiquid” because he didn’t get his distribution from CNG in 2019. Bridget has received debt collection notices for the nearly $21,000 owed on her American Express card and a $735 bill from Jewish Hospital. There’s no sign yet that anyone is coming to repossess her Porsche, which according to her filings has a $5,000 monthly payment. Each party has received $25,000 a month in living expenses, an amount later reduced to $15,000 under a temporary legal agreement while the divorce case is being sorted out. Court filings show that Jared’s net worth is almost $206 million and Bridget’s is $22.5 million.


In the early 1990s, Allen Davis was raising eyebrows at Provident Bank (later bought by National City), and not only because of his very unbanker-like look of beard, ponytail, and casual golf wear. He was leading the company into questionable subprime home loans for people with bad credit and a frequent-shopper program for merchants, though the bank’s charter barred him from getting involved in full-blown predatory lending practices. With guidance and funding from his father, Jared, at age 26, launched Check ’n Go in 1994 and became a pioneer in the payday lending industry. Jared and his family saw there were millions of Americans who didn’t have checking or savings accounts (“unbanked”) or an adequate credit rating (“underbanked”) but still needed loans to meet their everyday expenses. What those potential customers did have was a steady paycheck.

Conventional banks share a big part of the blame for the nation’s army of unbanked borrowers by imposing checking account fees and onerous penalties for bounced checks. In 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation estimated there were 7.1 million U.S. households without a checking or savings account.

The Davises launched Check ’n Go on the pretext that it would “fill the gap” for people who occasionally needed to borrow money in a hurry—a service for those who couldn’t get a loan any other way. But consumer advocates say the real business model for payday lending isn’t a service at all. The majority of the industry’s revenue comes from repeat business by customers trapped in debt, not from borrowers looking for a quick, one-time fix for their financial troubles.

Ohio’s payday lending lobbyists got a strong hold on the state legislature in the late 1990s, and by 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray could rightfully claim in a campaign ad that “Ohio’s [payday lending] laws are now the worst in the nation. Things have gotten so bad that it is legal to charge 594 percent interest on loans.” His statement was based on a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The frustration for consumer advocates was that Ohioans had been trying to reform those laws since 2008, when voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative placing a 28 percent cap on the interest of payday loans. But—surprise!—lenders simply registered as mortgage brokers, which enabled them to charge unlimited fees.

The Davis family and five other payday lending companies controlled 90 percent of the market back then, an express gravy train ripping through the poorest communities in Ohio. The predatory feeding frenzy, especially in Ohio’s hard-hit Rust Belt communities, prompted a 2017 column at The Daily Beast titled, “America’s Worst Subprime Lender: Jared Davis vs. Allan Jones?” (Jones is founder and CEO of Tennessee-based Check Into Cash.) In 2016 and 2017, consumer advocates mustered their forces again, and this time they weren’t allowing for loopholes. The Pew Charitable Trusts joined efforts with bipartisan lawmakers and Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform, a statewide coalition of faith, business, local government, and nonprofit organizations. Consumer advocates found a legislative champion in State Rep. Kyle Koehler, a Republican from Springfield.

It no doubt helped reform efforts that former Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger resigned in spring 2018 amid an FBI investigation into his cozy relationship with payday lenders. Rosenberger had taken frequent overseas trips—to destinations including France, Italy, Israel, and China—in the company of payday lending lobbyists. In April 2019, Ohio’s new lending law took effect and, since then, has been called a national model for payday lending reform that balances protections for borrowers, profits for lenders, and access to credit for the poor, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. New prices in Ohio are three to four times lower for payday loans than before the law. Borrowers now have up to three months to repay their loans with no more than 6 percent of their paycheck. Pew estimates that the cost of borrowing $400 for three months dropped from $450 to $109, saving Ohioans at least $75 million a year. And despite claims that the reforms would eliminate access to credit, lenders currently operate in communities across the state and online. “The bipartisan success shows that if you set fair rules and enforce them, lenders play by them and there’s widespread access to credit,” says Gabe Kravitz, a consumer finance officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Other states like Virginia, Kansas, and Michigan are following Ohio’s lead, Kravitz says. Some states, such as Nebraska, have even capped annual interest on payday loans. As a result, Pew researchers have seen a reduction in the number of storefront lending op­erations across the country. Even better, Kravitz says, there’s no evidence that borrowers are turning instead to online payday lending operations.

Cincinnati is one of five cities chosen for a grant to replicate the success of Boston Builds Credit, an ambitious effort that city launched in 2017 to provide credit counseling in poor and minority communities by training specialists at existing social service agencies. The program also encourages consumer partnerships with credit unions, banks, and insurance companies to offer small, manageable loans that can help the unbanked and underbanked improve their credit ratings. “Right now, local organizations are all kind of working in silos on the problem in Cincinnati,” says Todd Moore of the nonprofit credit counseling agency Trinity Debt Relief. Moore, who applied for the Boston grant, says he’s looking for an agency like United Way or Strive Cincinnati to lead the effort here.

Anthony Smith is thankful that he’s escaped the downward spiral of his payday loans, especially during the pandemic’s economic turmoil. “I’m blessed for every day I can get paid and have a job during these difficult times, just to be able to pay my bills and meet my responsibilities,” he says. “I’ve always kept a job, but until now I’ve had crappy credit. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy.”

Can others worth millions of dollars say the same?

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders Source link Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders



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What’s Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?

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Questionable’s definition means that something’s quality is up for debate. If a lender says that your credit score is questionable, it’s likely that they mean it’s poor, or at the very least, they’re hesitant to approve you for vehicle financing. Here’s what most lenders consider questionable credit, and what auto loan options you may have.

Questionable Credit and Auto Lenders

Many auto lenders may consider questionable credit as a borrower with a credit score below 660. The credit score tiers as sorted by Experian the national credit bureau, are:

  • Super prime: 850 to 781
  • Prime: 780 to 661
  • Nonprime: 660 to 601
  • Subprime: 600 to 501
  • Deep subprime: 500 to 300

The nonprime credit tiers and below is when you start to get into bad credit territory and may struggle to meet the credit score requirements of traditional auto lenders.

This is because lenders are looking at your creditworthiness – your perceived ability to repay loans based on the information in your credit reports. Besides your actual credit score, there may be situations where the items in your credit reports are what’s making a lender question whether you’re a good candidate for an auto loan. These can include:

  • A past or active bankruptcy
  • A past or recent vehicle repossession
  • Recent missed/late payments
  • High credit card balances
  • No credit history

There are ways to get into an auto loan with questionable credit. Your options can change depending on what’s making your credit history questionable, though.

Questionable Credit Auto Loans

If your credit score is less than stellar, it may be time to look at these two lending options:

  • What Is Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?Subprime financing – Done through special finance dealerships by third-party subprime lenders. These lenders can often assist with many unique credit situations, provided you can meet their requirements. A great option for new borrowers with thin files, situational bad credit, or consumers with older negative marks.
  • In-house financing – May not require a credit check, and is done through buy here pay here (BHPH) dealers. Typically, your income and down payment amount are the most important parts of eligibility. Auto loans without a credit check may not allow for credit repair and may come with a higher-than-average interest rate.

Both of these car loan options are typically available to borrowers with credit challenges. However, if you have more recent, serious delinquencies on your credit reports, a BHPH dealer may be for you. Most traditional and subprime lenders typically don’t approve financing for borrowers with a dismissed bankruptcy, a repossession less than a year old, or borrowers with multiple, recent missed/late payments.

Requirements of Bad Credit Car Loans

In many cases, your income and down payment size are the biggest factors in your overall eligibility for bad credit auto loans. Expect to need:

  • 30 days of recent computer-generated check stubs to prove you have around $1,500 to $2,500 of monthly gross income. Borrowers without W-2 income may need two to three years of professionally prepared tax returns.
  • A down payment of at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. BHPH dealers may require up to 20% of the car’s selling price.
  • Proof of residency in the form of a recent utility bill in your name.
  • Proof of a working phone (no prepaid phones), proven with a recent phone bill in your name.
  • A list of five to eight personal references with name, phone number, and address.
  • Valid driver’s license with the correct address, can’t be revoked, expired, or suspended.

Depending on your individual situation, you may need fewer or more items to apply for a bad credit auto loan. However, preparing these documents before you head to a dealership can speed up the process!

Ready to Get on the Road?

With questionable credit, finding a dealership that’s able to assist you with an auto loan is easier said than done. Here at Auto Credit Express, we want to get that done for you with our coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships.

Complete our free auto loan request form and we’ll get right to work looking for a dealer in your local area that can assist with many tough credit situations.

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Entrepreneur Tae Lee Finds Her Fortune

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By Jasmine Shaw
For The Birmingham Times

Birmingham native Tae Lee had plans last year to visit the continent of Africa, the South American country of Columbia, and the U.S. state of Texas.

“I was going to stay in each place for like four to six weeks, and then COVID-19 happened,” she said. “So, I just was like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna go to Mexico and stay for six months.’”

Once home from Playa Del Carmen, located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the 33-year-old entrepreneur put the final touches on “Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt,” a financial literacy card game for ages 10 and up.

“We created ‘Game of Fortune’ because we realized there was a gap in learning the fundamentals of money,” said Lee. “We go through life not knowing anything about money and then—‘Bam!’—real life hits. Credit, debt, and bills come at us quick!”

Lee believes the game “gives players a glimpse of real life” by using everyday scenarios to teach them how to make wiser financial decisions without having to waste their own money.

“I feel like [financial literacy] can be learned in ways other than somebody standing up and preaching it to you over and over again,” she said. “You can learn it in ways that are considered fun, as well.”

Which is why “we want the schools to buy it, so we can give students a fun way to learn about financial literacy,” she added.

Lee, also called the “Money Maximizer,” is an international best-selling financial author, speaker, coach, and trainer who is known for her financial literacy books, including “Never Go Broke (NGB): An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Money and Freedom” and the “NGB Money Success Planner High School Edition.” The Birmingham-based financial guru focuses on creating diverse streams of income in the tax, real estate, insurance, and finance industries.

For Lee, it’s about building generational wealth, not debt.

Indispensable Lessons

Lee got her first glance at entrepreneurial life as a child watching her mother, Valeria Robinson, run her commercial cleaning company, V’s Cleaning. Robinson retired in 2019.

“My grandmother had a cleaning service, too,” said Lee. “So, even though I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur, watching my mom and grandma do it taught me a lot.”

Lee grew up in Birmingham and attended Riley Elementary School, Midfield Middle School, and Huffman High School. She then went on to Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, Alabama, where she earned bachelor’s degree in physical education. She struggled to find a career in her field and became overwhelmed by student loans.

“My credit and stuff didn’t get bad until after college,” she said. “I was going through school and taking money, but nobody told me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna have to pay all of this back.’”

Before embarking on her extensive career in money management, Lee had not learned the indispensable lessons that she now shares with clients.

“‘Don’t have bad credit.’ That’s all I learned,” she remembers. “Financial literacy just wasn’t taught much. I learned the majority of my lessons as I aged.”

In an effort to ward off collection calls and raise her credit score, Lee researched tactics to strategically eliminate her debt.

“I knew I had to pay bills on time, and I couldn’t be late with payments,” she said.

Lee eventually began helping friends revamp their finances and opened NGB Inc. in 2017 to share fun, educational methods to help her clients build solid financial foundations.

“People were always coming to me like, ‘How do I invest in this?’ and ‘How do I do that?’ So, I said to myself, ‘You know what, people should be paying to pick your brain.’”

Legacy Building

While Lee enjoyed watching her clients reach milestones, like buying a new car with cash or making their first stock market investment, she was also designing “Game of Fortune” to teach the value of legacy building.

“The game gives players the knowledge to build generational wealth, not generational debt,” she said. “It gives you a glimpse of life, money, and what can truly happen if you mismanage your coins.”

Using index cards to create her first “Game of Fortune” sample deck, Lee filled each card with pertinent terms related to debt elimination and credit and wealth building. She then called on a few friends to help her work through the kinks.

Three of her good friends—Barbara Bratton, Daña Brown, and Sha Cannon—were just a few of the people that gave feedback on the sample deck.

“From there I met with Brandon Brooks, [owner of the Birmingham-based Brooks Realty Investments LLC], and four other financial advisors to fine-tune the definitions and game logistics,” Lee said.

Though Lee was unable to land a job in physical education after graduating from college, she now sees her career with NGB Inc. as life’s unexpected opportunity to teach on her own terms.

“Bartending and waitressing taught me that working for someone else was not for me,” she replied. “In order to get the life I always wanted, I had to create my own business.”

In her entrepreneurial pursuits, Lee strives to be an open-minded leader who embraces the need for flexibility.

“COVID-19 has shown me that in entrepreneurship you have to maneuver,” she said. “When life changes, sometimes your business will, too. You may have to change the path, but your ending goal can be the same.”

“Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt” is available and sold only on the “Game of Fortune” website: gameoffortune.money. To learn more about Tae Lee and Never Go Broke Inc., visit taelee.money and nevergobroke.money or email [email protected]; you also can follow her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nevergobrokeinc) and Instagram (@nevergobrokeinc).

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