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NJ Judge Disagrees with NY Judge in FDCPA Case Involving Credit Repair Agreement

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On August 30, 2017, in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case involving almost the exact same facts as a case insideARM wrote about on July 20, 2017, a federal judge in New Jersey disagreed with the judge in the prior New York case and denied a motion for summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The case is Ridgeway v. AR Resources, Inc. (Case No 16-1188, U.S.D.C., District of New Jersey).

A copy of the court’s opinion can be found here.

Background 

The case involves a FDCPA claim. Plaintiff Christine Ridgeway alleged that she disputed a debt with defendant AR Resources, Inc., a debt collector, but AR Resources failed to identify the debt as disputed or to delete the debt. The fact situation is familiar to those at many ARM firms – faxed dispute letters from credit repair company, Collection Shield 360. 

In October, 2015, defendant AR Resources received a one-page letter by fax, with no coversheet. At the top of the page, the letter states that it is “FROM:” Plaintiff Christine Ridgeway, and bears Ridgeway’s home address in New Jersey. No other sender is identified, although the fax header printed on the letter bears a fax number with an area code of 414, and the time stamp is in Mountain Daylight Time. The letter goes on to identify the debt at issue by name on the account (Christine Ridgeway), the last four digits of Ridgeway’s social security number, Ridgeway’s date of birth, the creditor, and the balance of the debt. The remainder of the letter appears to be a boilerplate form stating, among other things, “I dispute this debt.” The letter bears the electronic “/s/” signature of Christine Ridgeway. 

Ridgeway testified at her deposition that she did not draft the letter. A “credit repair agency,” Collection Shield 360 (CS360), wrote the letter after Ridgeway called the company. Ridgeway testified that she specifically asked CS360 to dispute the AR Resources debt.

The record contained a one-page “Collection Shield Service Agreement” electronically signed by both CS360 and Ridgeway. The agreement states in relevant part, “I, Christine Ridgeway, hereby authorize, [CS360], to make, receive, sign, endorse, execute, acknowledge, deliver, and process such applications, correspondence, contracts, or agreements to credit reporting agencies and creditors/collection agencies as necessary to improve my credit.” The agreement is undated. 

AR Resources moved for summary judgment on the one-count complaint.

Editor’s Note: A motion for summary judgment is based upon a claim by one party (or, in some cases, both parties) that contends that all necessary factual issues are settled or so one-sided they need not be tried. The summary judgment is appropriate when the court determines there no factual issues remaining to be tried, and therefore a cause of action or all causes of action in a complaint can be decided upon certain facts without trial. 

On July 20, 2017 insideARM wrote about a very similar case, involving almost identical facts and the same defendant, Taylor-Burns v. AR Resources, Inc. (Case No. 16-cv-1259, U.S.D.C. Southern District of New York). In that case, New York district court judge Robert W. Sweet, forcefully determined that the CS360 Agreement failed to comply with seven different requirements of the Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq. and therefore void and unenforceable.  Judge Sweet wrote:

“The lack of a CROA – compliant contract between CS360 and Plaintiff – and therefore the lack of a valid contract between CS360 and Plaintiff – means that CS360 had no authority to send the Letter on Plaintiff’s behalf. 

As previously noted, the Plaintiff testified that she did not prepare, sign, or send the Letter. She contacted CS360, which sent the Letter on her behalf. Therefore, no valid dispute was made, ARR cannot be liable for an alleged failure to report the debt as disputed, and the ARR motion for summary judgment dismissing the Complaint is granted.” 

In the instant case, the Honorable Noel L. Hillman considered the Taylor-Burns opinion, but disagreed with Judge Sweet’s analysis and refused to follow the same logic. Per Judge Hillman:

“In the undersigned’s view, however, even if (1) the Ridgeway-CS360 Agreement violates the CROA, and even if (2) that violation of law invalidates the Agreement (both issues the undersigned need not, and does not, decide), it does not follow that (3) CS360 had no authority to send the letter on Ridgeway’s behalf.

A reasonable factfinder could find on this record that CS360 had authority to act on Ridgeway’s behalf, and therefore Ridgeway, through her agent, CS360, disputed the debt at issue even if Ridgeway and CS360 did not have a CROA-compliant contract. Independent from the disputed written agreement, Ridgeway testified that she called CS360 and asked them to dispute the debt at issue, and in response, CS360 faxed the above-quoted correspondence.

However, we view these sections as voiding such contracts as between the parties to such agreements, i.e., the consumer and the credit agency, not provisions intended to shield third party debt collectors from conduct that may violate another consumer protection law. It truly would be ironic to deny a plaintiff the protections of the FDCPA because she had been a victim of the CROA. Here, as we have noted, Plaintiff makes no complaint of CS360 under the CROA. To the contrary, she insists they acted with her knowledge and approval. She alone – not Defendant – has standing to void any contract she may have with CS360 under the CROA.

AR Resources’ Motion for Summary Judgment on the FDCPA claim will be denied.”

insideARM Perspective

It will be interesting to see what happens next. This case is not over. The judge only denied a motion for summary judgment. Hopefully AR Resources will continue to defend the case and take it to trial. Two similar cases and two disparate results… it would be nice to get some consistency from the courts.

ARM firms are constantly struggling with how to deal with high volume validation requests or disputes. It seems that it is a strategy employed by many credit repair organizations and/or consumer rights law firms. The original case (Taylor-Burns v. AR Resources, Inc) provided strong language from a New York judge that saw significant issues with the practices of CS360. The judge went even further in discussing that firm’s relationship with the RC Law Group.

In light of the Taylor-Burns case it is likely that we have not seen the last of cases like this where a defendant ARM firm vigorously defends itself in a similar case.



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Credit Repair Companies

Free credit repair consultation for people in credit distress – Press Release

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Free credit repair consultation for people in credit distress

At a time when the number of people with negative credit listing has increased, Intel Credit Consultants is coming to the aid of the credit distressed individuals and business through offering free credit repair consultation.

With the rate of credit default reaching new levels, a credit repair company is offering individuals and business a free consultation. While announcing this credit repair assistance, the lead consultant at Intel Credit Consultants said this is meant to help individuals and businesses make informed credit decisions. “We are aware of the situation  occasioned by the pandemic and we would like people as well as businesses to come out strong , remove their negative information and improve their chances of getting credit to finance their activities,” said the company representative while urging those in need of credit repair services to register for free consultation.

Intel Credit Consultants relies in a pool of experienced credit repair professionals to help its clients. The team is reputed for its experience and high skills as well as dedication to provide assistance quickly and effectively. The company representative says that the team goes out of the way to ensure customer satisfaction and delivering the desired results.  He observes that the free consultation is a step towards providing a path that will streamline a customer credit path and open avenues where they can live comfortably without being bogged down by issues of negative listing.

“The importance of credit repair cannot be overemphasized, it can open many doors for you especially if you are considering buying a house, a new car, furnish your house, taking a loan among other financial decision. We are providing assistance that will help improve your credit score,” said the lead consultant while adding that they are a reputable firm, a choice of many people looking to repair their credit fast and at affordable rates.

While explaining how they operate, the company spokesperson said the first step is becoming a member through signing up. The new member is supposed to choose a plan where they analyze the available options. The credit repair company has a variety of programs that a member can choose from. Once a customer provides all the necessary information and documents, the company representative says they can now sit and see the progress. “On average our clients see an 85 point increase in their credit score in a period of one month,” said the representative while adding that they have received numerous testimonials from customers who are happy with their services. “We are happy to hear positive feedback from our customers, we are pleased to learn that we made a difference in their lives, providing an avenue where they can improve their financial standing. This is who we are, a credit repair company that makes a difference in people’s lives,” said the representative while reacting on the positive testimonial from the customers.

Intel Credit Consultants promises to continue offering credit repair assistance, encouraging those who are looking for services to take advantage of their free consultation through booking an appointment through their website: https://intelcreditconsultants.com/

About Intel Credit Consultants

Intel Credit Consultants is a US based black owned credit Repair Company. The company that puts its clients needs first making sure they are educated and well informed on every credit decision.

Media Contact
Company Name: Intel Credit Consultants
Contact Person: Media Relations
Email: Send Email
Phone: 866.990.7175
Country: United States
Website: https://intelcreditconsultants.com/



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Credit Repair Companies

Give yourself some credit (reports)

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Image courtesy FTC
Image courtesy FTC

By EMILY WU
Attorney, Federal Trade Commission

One important back-to-basics step you can take this Financial Literacy Month (or anytime) is checking your credit report. 

Your credit report has a summary of your credit history. For example, if you’ve been evicted and a landlord turns uncollected rent over to a collection agency, that might be on your credit report. Information in your credit report affects your credit score. That’s important because businesses — like insurance and phone companies — use your credit score to decide whether to give you a policy or service, and what rate to offer. And potential employers and landlords also might check your credit.

So you want to know that the information on your report is accurate. And if it’s wrong, you want to make sure someone didn’t steal your identity.

Here’s the plan:

Order your free credit report. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228. Until the end of the pandemic, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

Read the reports carefully. Do you recognize the accounts? Do they list credit applications? Did you apply for credit at those places?

Spot mistakes. Fix anything that looks wrong (read more about how). But if it looks like someone else is using your credit, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and get a recovery plan.

Spot a credit repair scam. If a credit repair company asks for money up front, or tells you not to contact the credit bureaus yourself, that’s probably a scammer.

Look, it’s been a tough time, and it’s hard to get back on track. But you can take steps to rebuild your credit. Only time and a plan to pay off debt will improve your credit, but with free credit reports available every week, it’s a good time to take a small step towards recovery. 

. . .

The above information is from the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information blog

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Introducing Oasis Credit Group, New York City’s premier credit repair company – Press Release

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Oasis Credit Group is a credit repair company, based in New York, that is proficient in erasing bad credits accumulated from terrible financial decisions whilst providing its clients with a first-class platform for business or personal growth.

Available statistics suggest that 43% of consumers haven’t checked their credit score in the last year. Meanwhile, VantageScore says there are about 220 million scoreable people and 68 million of them have bad or poor scores. Hence, Oasis Credit Group is aptly positioned with its services—the ability to remove all negative derogatory and delinquent accounts across all 3 bureaus.

“The first thing we do is obtain a 3B Credit Report which is one report from the 3 major credit bureaus. We will then analyze the entire report with the client on the line. We will go over each item that is on the report and figure out what needs to be done. Ex. dispute with the bureaus and/or furnisher, Debt Settlement with the creditor or collection agency, Adding positive accounts, etc. We do not sign up any client who wants to sign up. If we cannot help, we will not onboard the customer”, explained the company CEO.

Oasis Credit Group started as a small business funding industry where they observed the biggest reason for denial was someone’s credit score. “After figuring out a way to help people with their credit scores, we decided to move strictly to credit repair as we saw the number of consumers who can use our service AND the amount of business who can help as well”, explained a company spokesman.

Oasis Credit Group differentiates itself from other companies in the credit repair industry with a number of impeccable services including:

  • 100% Money-Back Guarantee
  • Flawless integrity
  • Sufficient experience with consumer, business, and mortgage credit
  • Full-time availability and customer support
  • Affordable fees, with NO long binding contracts.


Oasis Credit Group
offers a referral bonus as an incentive for any client referred to them.  “As mentioned above, we know what it likes to have a client declined due to credit. We are your solution. Refer those clients to us or any client you know can use our help and we will get them a better credit score AND you will get paid for the referral. We pay a residual commission for each active client each month.”

Perhaps, a pointer to the company’s proficiency is the rave reviews and customer testimonials from clients. According to a client, Gloria G.: “After working with 3 different credit repair companies I had 0 results after 2 years. I was on my last try and Abie was awesome from the first phone call. He didn’t promise anything that wasn’t possible and gave me an accurate timeline to reach a score of 650 so I can get my dream home. They were able to get the results I needed in 2 months! For anyone that has been struggling I strongly recommend you give Oasis a try they DELIVER!”

Media Contact
Company Name: Oasis Credit Group
Contact Person: Abraham Shalam
Email: Send Email
Phone: (646) 727-6985
Country: United States
Website: oasiscreditgroup.com



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