On Friday of last week, Lexington Law and related defendants filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought against them by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The CFPB’s suit was filed in May of this year alleging Lexington Law relied on a marketing affiliate network that “used deceptive, bait advertising to generate referrals to Lexington Law’s credit repair service.” The CFPB also focused on Lexington Law’s referral fees, stating that the organizations failed to observe the mandatory waiting period required by federal law. As summarized in the complaint, “fees can only be collected after a certain period has elapsed and it has been demonstrated that the promised results have been achieved.”
Actions of Third Party “Hotswap” Partners
The primary argument in the motion to dismiss is that the alleged actionable allegations were actions of a third party, not the actions of the defendants. In other words, defendants argue that they cannot be indirectly liable for the actions of a third party because there are no facts showing that defendants inserted itself into how those third parties conducted their business.
According to the CFPB’s complaint, the third parties in question act as lead generators for defendants. For example, if the third party denies the consumer credit based on the consumer’s credit report, the third party will refer the consumer to defendants as an option to repair the credit report. In doing so, however, these third parties would mislead consumers. For example, they would offer products that don’t actually exist in order to deny the consumer and create the lead. The defendants’ motion to dismiss argues that the complaint provides allegations against the third party partners, but not against the actual defendants named.
The motion to dismiss also argues that “the Complaint all but expressly admits that CFPB does not have any facts that enable it to challenge any introducer relationship other than HSP1: alleging, in paragraph 71 at the start of the Complaint’s’ section on alleged deception by introducers, ‘[a]t least one, if not more, of Progrexion’s Hotswap Partners have made misrepresentations to consumers.’”
Additionally, the defendants argued for dismissal since the complaint does not allege that they had knowledge of nor assisted the third party’s deception toward consumers.
The motion to dismiss also throws in the argument that the CFPB is unconstitutionally structured. This issue brewed up in several courts throughout the country already, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court denying a petition to hear the case in State National Bank of Big Spring v. Mnuchin back in January.
This suit is only one of many legal challenges currently faced by Lexington Law. Earlier this month, a jury found in favor of The CBE Group in its suit against Lexington Law, finding that the credit repair organizations mass dispute processes were fraudulent. While the litigation is not done yet, it is telling that a jury came to this conclusion. Lexington Law is also currently facing a RICO suit filed by Ad Astra Recovery Services, also alleging issues with the mass dispute process.
insideARM is following developments in all three of these suits and will provide updates as they come.
The Credit Pros Credit Repair Review
The credit repair process typically involves disputing inaccurate negative information in your credit history, items that ended up on your report by no fault of your own. But if your credit score is also being weighed down by past credit mistakes, you’ll need much more than just credit repair to fix your score. The Credit Pros is a credit repair company that is also equipped to deal in many of these areas, including debt repayment and budgeting. Our review explains each of these services in depth and answers the one question that truly matters: Is the price really worth it?
- Free consultation: The Credit Pros will provide an initial phone consultation regarding your credit free of charge.
- Includes several bonus services: In addition to credit disputes and monitoring, packages include financial planning tools, debt management services, identity theft monitoring, and more.
- Offers a mobile app: The Credit Pros’ free mobile app is available for download on Apple and Android smartphones.
- Unlimited credit disputes: There’s no hard-and-fast limit to the number of disputes The Credit Pros will send on your behalf each month, even with the most basic plan.
- Bilingual services available: Customers can receive assistance in both English and Spanish.
- High initial fees: Initial work fees fall between $119 and $149.
- No money-back guarantee: While The Credit Pros advertises a service guarantee, it doesn’t back these promises up with a refund if you fail to see results.
- Limited educational resources: The Credit Pros provides some helpful information regarding credit health, but lags behind competitors in consumer education.
- Website difficult to navigate: You may have difficulty locating the information you need on The Credit Pros’ website.
Types of Services
For customers interested in credit repair, The Credit Pros bundles its services into three different packages at various price points. As you’d expect, the more expensive plans include more services than the entry-level options.
The most notable aspect of The Credit Pros’ service offering is that each package addresses credit repair at a similar level. Many competitors drastically limit credit repair services with entry-level plans, in theory to convince customers to upgrade to a more expensive option. By contrast, the key difference between The Credit Pros’ plans is the scope of non-credit repair services included. This makes the company’s entry-level plan a fantastic value compared to other credit repair companies.
The Money Management plan covers all the basic tools you might need to address your credit: unlimited monthly disputes, credit and identity monitoring, and access to financial planning tools like a budgeting system that syncs with your open credit accounts.
You’ll also get access to The Credit Pros’ debt management services, which are quite extensive compared to other credit repair services. When appropriate, the company will send debt validation letters on your behalf. If you have an accurate negative item on your credit report, The Credit Pros will help you address the debt using a snowball or avalanche repayment method. However, you’ll be limited to just one debt repayment account with the Money Management plan. To tackle more accounts at once, you’ll have to upgrade.
The Prosperity Package includes everything you’ll find in the Money Management plan but doesn’t limit you to a single debt repayment account. This makes the plan a more logical option for those who need to address more than just inaccurate items on their report.
Customers who choose this plan will also receive a subscription to SlashRx, a discount program that can help you save up to 80% on prescription medications.
The Credit Pros’ premium plan, the Success Package, offers the most varied services. On top of everything that comes with the Prosperity Package, this plan includes access to National Credit Direct, a financing program that allows customers with poor or no credit to purchase items such as electronics and household goods, which can contribute to positive credit. The company also offers credit lines starting at $500 with 0% APR.
National Credit Direct’s financing program advertises consumer goods at low monthly payments with 0% APR, but as you might expect, there’s a catch. While you may not have to pay interest directly, the company includes the cost of doing business in its sticker prices. For example, the same Amazon Fire tablet sold by National Credit Direct for $174.99 can be purchased straight from Amazon for only $69.99.
|Money Management||Prosperity Package||Success Package|
|Financial planning tools||√||√||√|
|Prescription medication discounts||√||√|
|Access to financing program||√|
*Limited to one negative item
Credit repair companies sometimes let customers further customize their plans with optional add-on services. While The Credit Pros doesn’t offer anything like this, we do want to make note of the company’s credit monitoring service.
CreditSentry is the same credit monitoring service included in all three credit repair packages, so customers already enrolled in one of The Credit Pros’ core services won’t see any benefit. However, if you don’t need credit repair services, the plan may be of interest. The cost is $19 per month and includes credit score updates, a new TransUnion credit report every 60 days, and identity theft monitoring.
While many credit repair services only offer assistance by phone and email, The Credit Pros goes above and beyond to make their representatives accessible. Of course, traditional phone and email correspondence are always available; phones are answered from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. If you’re looking for something more convenient, however, a web chat is available during operating hours on The Credit Pros’ website.
The Credit Pros is also one of relatively few credit repair companies to offer a free mobile app. Customers can use the app to track their credit repair progress, view their credit reports, and get push notifications when score changes are detected. The app gets excellent reviews with 4.7-star average ratings in both the Google Play and Apple app stores.
Customer reviews for The Credit Pros are mixed; while most are positive, there are also a few complaints to know about. The good news is that there are no official complaints on file with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government agency that acts as a watchdog over the credit repair industry. However, customers have filed complaints through unofficial channels.
The Credit Pros holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau but has received 42 customer complaints in the past three years and gets an average review score of just 2.96 stars. On Google, The Credit Pros holds a more impressive 4.1-star rating. The most common complaint from customers is a failure to see any negative items removed from their report.
While credit repair companies can do their best to have inaccurate items removed from your report, no company is able to guarantee specific results. A free credit repair consultation is a great time to ask the company upfront which items on your report could be eligible for dispute. If the company can’t identify any legitimate discrepancies, credit repair may not be the right solution for you.
If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call 877-FTC-HELP.
There are no contracts to worry about with The Credit Pros. All plans are month to month and can be canceled at any time as long as you contact the company before your next payment is due.
Although it’s hard to argue that The Credit Pros offers more expansive service options than almost any competitor, prices are also on the high end for the industry. Initial work fees for the entry-level Money Management plan, for example, are nearly twice the monthly fees for that package. Pricing for the most premium plan reaches $149 in first work and monthly fees, which is far from affordable if you’re simultaneously paying down debts to improve your credit. Those funds might be better used toward outstanding loan balances to improve your credit.
The Credit Pros justifies its high prices by bundling a laundry list of credit repair and financial services into each of its packages. To decide whether the cost is worth it, you should ask yourself if you honestly plan to use each service included. If the answer is no, you might be better off with a cheaper, no-frills package from a competitor.
|Money Management||Prosperity Package||Success Package|
|First work fee||$119.00||$119.00||$149.00|
The Competition: The Credit Pros vs. Credit Nerds
Since The Credit Pros is on the more expensive end of the credit repair price range, we wanted to see how services compared to Credit Nerds, a competitor that sits squarely on the opposite end of the spectrum. Credit Nerds is the only company we’ve found that offers a basic credit repair service completely free of charge, although an upgraded credit audit is also available for a one-time charge of $97.
Credit Nerds is far from matching the same scope of services as The Credit Pros, but if your credit history is strong overall and the only issue you face is a handful of credit reporting inaccuracies, Credit Nerds is by far the better choice. With that said, if you’ve struggled with managing debt for an extended period of time and need professional help to address your credit from multiple angles, The Credit Pros could pay for itself, as long as you know you’ll use all the services that come with the monthly fee.
|The Credit Pros||Credit Nerds|
|Services Offered||Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection, financial planning||Credit repair, funding|
|Customer Service Touchpoints||Phone, email, client portal||Phone, email|
|Upfront Fee||$119.00 to $149.00||$0|
|Monthly Fee||$69.00 to $149.00||$0|
With advanced services that far exceed the limited scope of traditional credit repair, The Credit Pros is best suited for individuals with extensive credit damage following a long history of mismanaged debt. The company’s entry-level credit repair package offers exceptional value compared to equivalent plans from competitors, although you’ll have to balance this against an exceptionally high initial work fee.
At the end of the day, The Credit Pros is only worth it if you plan to take full advantage of all the services included in the package you choose. Even then, you should deeply consider whether those monthly fees would have a more positive impact on your credit if you used the funds to pay down balances instead.
How We Review Credit Repair Companies
We know how hard it can be to tell a legitimate credit repair company from an outright scam. Our credit repair reviews examine each company carefully to assess value and uncover any potential traps. We analyze each service at a microscopic level and compare packages to industry standards and equivalents from competitors. To get the broadest possible analysis, we also consider data from third-party ratings and government databases.
Learn more: Read out full Credit Repair Review Methodology here.
10 Clever Ways To Improve Your Credit Score Fast
Your credit score is a critical piece of your financial life.
If you want a good rewards credit card, you’ll need a good credit score. If you want to get a low mortgage interest rate, you’ll need a good credit score.
There are also other non-obvious places where a good credit score can help – like when you want to get a new cell phone or when you’re getting car insurance.
Building credit can be a long process where good behavior helps increase your score gradually. Achieving good credit can take years but there are a few steps you can take to give your score a boost.
These won’t work for everyone because many solve specific problems (that you may not have – which often what credit repair companies target) but review the list to see if you can take advantage of any of these ideas.
1. Reduce Your Credit Utilization Ratio
Several factors determine your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is one of the most influential metrics because it makes up 30% of your score. Credit utilization is simply how much credit you are using divided by the total amount of credit you have access to.
If you charged $10,000 to your credit cards and your total credit limit is $50,000, your utilization is 20%. Credit bureaus use your statement balance in this calculation, so you have utilization even if you pay off your balances in full each month.
A general rule of thumb is to use up to a maximum of 30% of your credit card limit. Many experts suggest keeping it below 10%, if possible. Most credit cards report your credit utilization once a month to the credit bureaus. In many cases, your most recent statement balance is the number that goes onto your credit report.
Here are three ways to keep your credit card utilization ratio below 30%:
- Only charge essential purchases like gas and groceries—or those that earn bonus points
- Split your purchases between multiple credit cards
- For large one-time purchases, make extra payments during the billing cycle
Continue paying cash for purchases that cause your balance the exceed the 30% threshold if you won’t be making an extra payment each month. If you’re going to make additional payments, schedule them to post before the billing cycle ends so the balance shown on your statement is lower.
2. Request Credit Limit Increases
Periodically, request an increase to your credit limit. Each credit card company will have a different process but it’s typically very easy and very quick. Most credit cards will let you do this online.
By increasing your credit limit, you lower your utilization.
Two things to keep in mind when doing this. First, don’t request an increase on a new card. Many companies will not increase your limit if it’s new.
Next, when you request an increase, you want to make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t require a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you request a relatively small increase, the company will usually approve it automatically.
If you ever request an increase and the company wants to ask for more information, decline the request. You don’t need the increase and so it doesn’t make sense to take the credit score decrease from a hard inquiry.
You can usually request an increase every six months.
3. Fix Credit Report Errors
Sometimes, banks make reporting errors that hurt your credit score. Even if you haven’t missed a payment, many consumers overlook the benefits of a periodic credit report review.
If you find an error, you will need to file a dispute with the credit bureau. No error is too small to dispute. I’ve disputed incorrect phone numbers, which are correctly in minutes, which led me to discover unauthorized accounts (a cell phone).
If the error affected your score, you should see a pretty quick change once the credit bureau corrects the error.
4. Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card
Having a family member with a higher credit score than yours can add you to their credit card as an authorized user. Doing so can positively affect your credit score when the card has a long account history, on-time payments and a low credit utilization ratio.
5. Periodically Use “Dormant” Credit Cards
As your credit history grows, you likely qualify for credit cards with better rewards and interest rates. Instead of closing your first credit card, make occasional purchases to keep it active.
When you keep the card active, banks are less likely to reduce your credit limit or close the card. The credit bureaus look at each revolving credit account’s credit utilization ratio as well as your overall credit utilization ratio.
A credit line decrease impacts your total credit utilization ratio.
Closing an old credit card account can also hurt your score. If your old card charges an annual fee, see if you can downgrade it to one without an annual fee. You maintain your account history and that continues to strengthen your credit.
6. Pay Off Cards with the Highest Balances First
In addition to limiting your future spending, work on paying off your credit cards. If you have several cards with a balance, focus on the highest card balance to reduce your credit utilization ratio.
Paying down your outstanding debt can also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which is not a factor in your credits core but is used by many lenders.
7. Make On-Time Payments
If you miss your payment due dates, stop.
Your payment history is the most influential credit score factor with a 35% weighting. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, your account remains in good standing—and you avoid late fees.
8. Have a Variety of Credit Accounts
While you should only borrow money when necessary, having a variety of credit accounts can demonstrate you can manage credit responsibly. You might have one credit card, a home mortgage and a car loan. Each type of account can benefit your credit score differently.
Loans that you repay in full can remain on your credit report for up to ten years. You can have an easier time qualifying for a similar loan in addition to having a higher credit score.
9. Sign Up for a Credit Boost Service
Having a credit card and installment loans are not the only ways to increase your score. Credit boost services like Experian Boost report your monthly bill payments like utilities or your cell phone plan to the credit bureaus. You can receive credit by linking your bank account.
10. Get a Credit Builder Loan
Credit builder loans can offer a small credit score boost as you lend money to yourself. You make monthly payments into an interest-bearing certificate of deposit (CD) for up to 24 months. The bank reports your monthly payment to the three credit bureaus. When the loan term ends, you receive the CD balance minus administrative fees.
These are just a few of the ways you can quickly increase your credit score – try one today and let me know how it turns out the next time you check your credit score.
Monroe Housing Authority debuts 23 new homes in south Monroe neighborhood
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Twenty-three new homes on South Third and South Fourth Streets are welcoming families after several years of development and planning.
The Monroe Housing Authority is beyond the new constructions. The homes are part of a $3.5 million initiative focused on the portions of South Third and South Fourth streets between Beauregard and Peach streets and are Phase I of the Preservation Mills development.
Monroe Housing Authority Executive Director William V. Smart said those responsible for the development were already making a difference and sparking change in the community.
“A few years from now when we look back at this moment, this time where we are right now, we will know that we were a part of something bigger than ourselves, something really bigger than ourselves … a chance to make a difference in our community — not southside, not northside, not no side. We made a difference in our community.”
The neighborhood revitalization was made possible through a partnership with the city of Monroe. Thursday’s ribbon-cutting happened approximately 16 months after MHA broke ground on the project.
Funding for the $3.5 million dollar project was received through competitive grant applications to Louisiana Housing Corporation and the Louisiana Neighborhood Landlord Rental Program.
In addition to the $3.5 million dollar investment for new home construction, MHA has also invested over $200,000 for land acquisitions, demolition and site clearing.
Initially, the properties will be made available for lease for a period of five years. Afterward, they will be offered for sale.
“In addition to the opportunity to help revitalize this once beautiful and thriving community, the homeownership component is extremely important to us,” Smart said. “We are grateful for this chance to bring a quality, affordable homeownership opportunity to families with modest incomes.
“Our goal is to provide renters with homeownership workshops, financial education, credit repair counseling, career development, and other supportive services during the five-year rental period, with the ultimate goal of helping those who are interested become first-time homebuyers.”
Monroe City Council Vice-Chair Carday Marshall represents District 4 where the new homes are located and called the development a beautiful blessing.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a family to be able to come in on a daily basis to a fresh new atmosphere. It’s heartfelt, and you build the morale for the families,” Marshall explained,” and with the ability to become a homeowner, that is an opportunity most in this district do not get.”
Mayor Friday Ellis recognized the efforts of the Monroe Housing Authority and former mayor Jamie Mayo’s administration on the project.
“We can do a lot of things,” Ellis said. “We can build a lot of buildings. We can pave a lot of roads, but if we are not addressing the felt needs of communities, we are really not doing too much, are we?
“Thank you for this. This is beautiful. Block by block we can make it happen, but it’s going to start with the support of everyone here, whether it be picking up trash, taking care of your neighbor or lending a hand.”
Each home in the development consists of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open concept floor plan and an attached carport. The homes were designed in a style reminiscent of the architecture that existed when the neighborhood was first developed.
If additional funding becomes available, MHA plans to develop additional homes in the near future.
Read or Share this story: https://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/2020/10/29/monroe-housing-authority-debuts-23-new-homes-south-monroe-neighborhood/6056254002/
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