Scammers’ most damaging weapon was using the internet to steal money and personal information from customers in 2019, according to the complaints submitted to the stateAttorney General’s Office.
The office collects complaints of fraud from residents and business owners throughout the state to keep track of scam trends and get law enforcement involved when necessary.
Here are 10 most common scams customers wrote formal complaints about in 2019.
1. Internet scams
Those include issues with service providers, data privacy and security, data breaches and fraud through internet manipulation.
This would include phishing emails, which appear to be from a legitimate source and coax the receiver to provide sensitive information.
Last year, DiBella’s Subs, which operates 47 stores across the U.S., announced that its computer systems were affected by a sophisticated data breach, potentially exposing information from up to 305,000 payment cards.
What you can do: Customers should be wary of pop-up computer messages asking them to call immediately about a computer virus, accordig to the Attorney General’s Office.
If you know you’ve given scammers access to your computer, run antivirus software and consider reformatting your computer. Apply security updates as soon as possible and change your passwords often.
The office received 4,436 complaints in this category in 2019.
2. Consumer scams
Scams could involve security systems, technology repairs, immigration services and consignment shops.
What you should know: Potential fraud between two businesses often comes in the form of business services.
Food truck and restaurant owners from across the country complained to the Attorney General’s Office about M Design Vehicles, a Rochester-based food truck builder that often didn’t follow through on its contracts to construct food trucks, leaving customers out tens of thousands of dollars.
The complaints, collected by Democrat and Chronicle reporters through a Freedom of Information Law request, bolstered an investigation into M Design’s practices.
The office received 2,659 complaints of this type in 2019.
This includes buying, leasing and repairing vehicles, as well as service contracts and rental agreements.
Many residents are not familiar with the fine print in leasing or sale agreements, which gives untoward dealers an opportunity to bilk customers into paying out extra cash.
What you can do: Do not sign agreements that don’t have the numbers filled in, and check over your agreement to make sure there are no extra accessories or warranties present that you did not agree to or ask for. Ask for a copy of every document you sign.
There were 2,510 complaints of this type in 2019.
4. Landlord and tenant disputes
These include security deposit releases and tenant harassment.
Tenants in New York were granted a number of protections as part of new rent legislation last year.
What you should know: Landlords can only charge a maximum of $20 for a credit and background check before a lease is signed, and may only charge up to one month of rent for a security deposit or “advance payment.”
There are also additional protections for late fees and eviction.
There were 1,910 complaints about scams involving landlords and rent in 2019.
5. Utility companies and services
This includes issues with wireless and residential phones, energy suppliers, and cable and satellite providers.
A man in Geneseo was sent a mobile phone bill of over $4,000 after his information was stolen and used to buy several iPhones and phone lines on his AT&T mobile phone account.
Others through New York state have found that they’re paying double on their utility bills, sometimes attributable to energy service companies, or ESCOs, that may convince customers to sign up for unnecessary services at exorbitant costs.
What you can do: Before accepting service through an ESCO, consumers should ask how their rates compare to the rates provided directly from utility companies, the Attorney General’s Office advised.
The office received 1,811 complaints about utility scams in 2019.
6. Credit and debt services
These scams could include debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies and identity theft.
Scammers posing as utility or financial agencies may call residents in attempts to steal credit card information.
What you can do: A good rule of thumb is to never give out sensitive financial information over the phone, no matter how convincing a caller may sound.
Debt collection scams often promise to alleviate or diminish debt quickly and easily, or may charge an up-front fee, which is illegal.
Customers can also sign up for a credit freeze through one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That allows you to restrict access to your credit report.
The office received 1,206 complaints of this type in 2019.
7. Retail sales
This could include any sale of goods, food, or clothing, plus rent-to-own services and online orders. Ticket websites may offer expensive seats for highly anticipated events that turn out to be stolen tickets or seats that don’t exist at all.
What you can do: Before entering into a rental purchase agreement, be sure to read and understand all terms and ask questions, including: How much are the monthly payments? What other monthly fees apply? What is the total dollar cost to own the item? Who pays for repairs? Is there a penalty for paying off the item early?
There were 1,091 complaints came in about scams of this type in 2019.
8. Home repair and construction
These include home improvement services that were not delivered or were done poorly.
What you can do: Consumer protection bureaus regularly urge customers to check customer reviews and Better Business Bureau pages before paying a contractor to seal their driveways, renovate their bathrooms or clear ice from their roofs.
The office received 901 complaints about these scams in 2019.
9. Mail order and online catalogs
These include purchases made via mail order or online catalog or marketplace.
Negative option marketing is a popular form of sales online, where online merchants treat a consumer’s failure to reject an offer or cancel an agreement as their approval to be charged for goods or services on a recurring basis, according to the Attorney General’s office.
What you can do: Read all terms and conditions before you make a purchase, know when your “free” or “trial” period ends and monitor your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized or recurring charges.
The office received 593 complaints about these scams in 2019.
10. Mortgage services
These include mortgage modifications, mortgage and loan broker fraud and foreclosures.
What you should know: Individuals and companies may claim that they will make homeowner’s monthly mortgage payments in exchange for temporarily holding the deed to the home, allowing the homeowner to remain in the home as a renter until he/she can resume making monthly mortgage payments, according to the Office.
This may be a scam to steal the deed and attempt to evict the homeowner.
The office received 493 complaints about these scams in 2019.
What you can do next: Residents and customers can submit complaints of scams or fraud to the Attorney General’s Office at ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint.
They will be asked to fill out contact information, and provide both a description of the alleged scam or fraudulent activity as well as documents related to the case.
Customers can also call the Office’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection’s customer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.
Credit360 Now Providing Credit Repair Services in Orlando
One of the nation’s finest in personal and business credit solutions has expanded its services in Florida.
“We are very excited to now offer our life-changing services in Orlando,” said Andre Coakley, Founder & CEO of Credit360, a company with an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist individuals and businesses with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals. “We are here to help you achieve your optimal credit profile by making the credit repair process convenient, individualized, and effective.”
Credit360’s specialized credit repair processes, credit expertise, and guaranteed customer service, company representatives say, make it the best in the industry.
Coakley explained that Credit360 has had the opportunity to help thousands of Americans correct their credit reports. In fact, Credit360, Coakley stressed, is a company that puts its money where its mouth is and only charges a fee when items are deleted, removed, or repaired from individuals’ credit reports.
“With our services, you will no longer have to use other expensive credit repair companies that charge monthly and don’t even produce results,” Coakley promised, before adding, “We are so confident in our advanced disputing tactics that we will allow you to pay for your deletions after you actually see our results and we even give you a 100 percent money-back guarantee to back it up just so you can relax.”
Coakley went on to reiterate that Credit360 is an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist customers with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals.
“With our services, most of our clients see deletions within the first 45 days of enrollment and usually see an average increase of 93 points throughout their program cycle,” Coakley said.
About Credit 360
Credit360 was established to assist individuals in restoring their personal credit and in offering a complete line of business credit solutions. Credit360 is a financial services firm specializing in credit restoration and business consulting services.
10664 SW 186th Street
Miami, FL 33157
Source: Credit360 Credit Repair
Credit Saint Credit Repair Review
Today’s credit repair industry is full of paid services, some more expensive than others. Credit Saint clearly falls under the more expensive category, with initial work fees reaching an astounding $195 for premium-tier service. But is the cost worth it? In our review, we’ll break down package options, service guarantees, and more to help you decide.
- Choose from three credit repair plans: Pick the package and price that makes the most sense for your personal situation.
- Most packages include credit monitoring: Two of Credit Saint’s three plans include Experian credit monitoring.
- Offers a 90-day money-back guarantee: If Credit Saint is unable to remove any inaccurate items from your report in the first 90 days, you’ll get all your fees refunded.
- Hard to find pricing online: You need to fill out a form with your contact information before being shown plan pricing.
- High initial work fees: First work fees range from $99 to $195, depending on the plan.
- Limited monthly disputes with low-tier plans: The entry-level plan includes just five disputes per billing cycle.
- Sparse online resources: There isn’t much educational information available on Credit Saint’s website.
- Not available in all states: Credit Saint is unable to serve residents of 11 states as listed on the company’s signup form.
Types of Services
Credit Saint’s services are packaged into three membership levels that vary, depending on how aggressive you need to be in order to remove inaccuracies from your credit report. This is beneficial as it lets you choose a customized plan that matches your needs without overpaying for services you don’t want.
The entry-level credit repair plan from Credit Saint includes five disputes of inaccurate information on your credit report per month. These can be applied to any type of information except hard inquiries, which are only covered by upgraded plans. You’ll also get an initial credit score analysis and an ongoing credit score tracker to keep an eye on your progress. Both are accessible through a client web portal.
Credit Saint’s mid-tier package includes everything included in the Credit Polish plan with a few extras. You’ll get twice as many credit inquiries; 10 are included per month, and you can use these to have inaccurate hard inquiries addressed. The package also includes Experian credit monitoring.
The most aggressive credit repair plan offered by Credit Saint is also the only one that includes unlimited disputes every billing period. With this membership, you can also ask the company to send cease and desist letters on your behalf. This can be a solution to stop unwanted phone calls related to accounts currently in collections. Of course, you’ll also have access to all services included in the Credit Polish and Credit Remodel packages.
Getting phone calls about unpaid debts you can’t afford to repay can be stressful and frustrating. Many credit repair companies advertise cease and desist letters as a way to legally prevent lenders and collections agencies from continuing to make contact. While this might sound like an easy solution, it’s not quite that simple. Once these companies can no longer contact you, they may jump straight to filing a lawsuit. Make sure you discuss both the pros and cons with your credit repair company before allowing them to send cease and desist letters on your behalf.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|Credit score analysis||√||√||√|
|Credit score tracker||√||√||√|
|Hard inquiry disputes||√||√|
|Experian credit monitoring||√||√|
|Cease and desist letters||√|
Some credit repair companies make supplemental services available in the form of optional add-ons. Since Credit Saint packages all of its solutions into a range of all-inclusive plans, the company doesn’t offer any further options to tailor services.
Credit Saint customers can get ahold of the company via phone or email, although hours are more flexible than most competitors, with phone lines open from 9 a.m. to p.m. EST on weekdays. If you need help outside of these hours, you can also log into the Credit Saint customer portal 24 hours a day. Here, you’ll find your credit score tracker and initial score analysis for easy reference.
Former Credit Saint customers give the company average ratings with some mixed reviews. The company has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, although more than 35 complaints are on record and the average review score sits at just 2.67 stars. With that said, there are no complaints recorded with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Google customer ratings are decidedly better with an average of 3.9 stars.
While online reviews should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, they can be useful in spotting trends among former customer opinions. Many of Credit Saint’s positive reviews make note of exceptionally friendly customer service agents. On the other hand, the most common complaint comes from customers who say the company didn’t fulfill its 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.
Since Credit Saint doesn’t lock customers into contracts, all services are offered on a month-to-month basis, allowing you to cancel anytime without penalty. All you need to do is contact a representative via phone or email to request a cancellation before your next billing date.
One of Credit Saint’s most unique points of attraction is its 90-day money-back service guarantee. According to this promise, the company vows that if it is unable to remove a single negative item from your report within the first 90 days of service, you can ask to have all fees paid up to that point returned.
Customer complaint data shows that many former Credit Saint clients have been unsuccessful in collecting a 90-day refund they felt they deserved. Before signing an agreement with Credit Saint or any credit repair company that advertises a service guarantee, make sure you get a clear explanation in writing of the exact results you can expect by which date. This can help eliminate uncertainty should you need to ask for your money back.
There are two components to Credit Repair’s pricing structure. The first is an upfront fee that covers the initial work period, including an in-depth review of your credit report and an initial credit score analysis. Then, ongoing services are charged on a monthly basis according to the plan you selected.
This fee structure is fairly standard for the credit repair industry, although fees are markedly higher than average. The $195 first work fee for the Clean Slate plan is the highest we came across in our reviews of more than 15 credit repair companies.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|First work fee||$99||$99||$19|
The Competition: Credit Saint vs. The Credit Pros
Our review of the credit repair industry found Credit Saint to be one of the most expensive paid credit repair options currently available. To see whether the cost is worth it, we compared Credit Saint to The Credit Pros, the competitor with the most similar pricing structure.
Like Credit Saint, The Credit Pros offers three tiered service packages, although the latter also makes a non-credit repair option available that includes just credit monitoring for $19 per month. Each company offers a similar array of services across their three core plan levels, but The Credit Pros makes more services available at lower tiers. For example, the cheapest plan includes credit monitoring, which Credit Saint only offers with upgraded packages.
The Credit Pros also includes several services with its plans that Credit Saint doesn’t provide at all. These include identity theft monitoring, financial planning tools, and a prescription medication discount program. Overall, we’d consider The Credit Pros a better value.
|Credit Saint||The Credit Pros|
|Services Offered||Credit repair, monitoring||Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection, financial planning|
|Customer Service Touchpoints||Phone, email, client portal||Phone, email, client portal|
|Upfront Fee||$99 to $195||$119 to $149|
|Monthly Fee||$79.99 to $119.99||$69 to $149|
Credit Saint’s graded packages let customers choose their own approach to credit repair at a price point they feel comfortable with. The company includes more services than most competitors, offering in-house credit monitoring and the option to send cease and desist letters to debt collectors. With that said, the service offering falls short of justifying Credit Saint’s sky-high prices. The good news is that a customer-friendly money-back guarantee means you won’t be at a total loss should you agree to these fees and fail to get results.
How We Review Credit Repair Companies
Our credit repair reviews take an extremely critical look at the credit repair industry, one that is notorious for leading customers astray with false promises and overpriced services. We assess the quantity and quality of services offered by each company, including their credit repair solutions and additional services like credit monitoring and debt management. We compare these services to listed prices to determine value, rewarding any companies that protect customers with a money-back service guarantee. Finally, we take a deep dive into customer review data and analyses from third parties like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau.
Learn more: Read our full Credit Repair Review Methodology here.
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