Court Places Temporary Restraints on United Credit Adjusters and Related Companies
NEWARK - Following the filing of a lawsuit earlier this month by the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs, Judge Thomas W. Cavanagh has issued a Temporary Restraining Order against defendants United Credit Adjusters, Bankruptcy Masters Corp., United Counseling Association, Inc. and Credit Bureau Controls Corp. which, among other restraints, freezes their assets.
Under the Temporary Restraining Order issued on Wednesday, the Defendants are temporarily enjoined and restrained from:
Removing, selling, encumbering, transferring or engaging in any act of disposition of any assets . . . including but not limited to all deposits or any monies paid by consumers . . . except as reasonable and necessary for day-to-day business expenses;
Destroying, concealing, altering, transferring, disposing or removing in any manner any books or records . . . that directly or indirectly relate to the advertisement and/or sale of credit repair, credit counseling, debt adjuster and bankruptcy filing services;
Failing to make and/or keep any books or records related to these services; and
Engaging in or doing any acts or practices in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Regulations Governing General Advertising.
“We're pleased the court has granted our request for temporary restraints. We want consumers protected as our investigation into the alleged violations committed by these defendants moves forward,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said.
In its five-count complaint filed on October 14, 2008 in Monmouth County, the state alleges that the defendants required payment in advance during initial consultations and then, after receiving payment, failed to provide consumers with credit counseling, credit repair and/or bankruptcy services. Contrary to defendants' representations and advertisements, consumers' credit scores were not raised nor was negative information eliminated from credit reports.
To date, the state Division of Consumer Affairs has received approximately 118 consumer complaints either directly or from the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”) as well as the Monmouth County Consumer Affairs Office, which began the investigation of United Credit Adjusters. United Credit Adjusters, which has maintained business and mailing addresses in Lakewood, Howell and North Manasquan, was believed to be in operation even after its New Jersey corporate status was revoked in May 2008 for failure to file annual reports. At present, it is believed that United Credit Adjusters may be operating as United Credit Counseling Association, Inc.
The court has scheduled the hearing on the state's request for a preliminary injunction, appointment of a receiver and asset freeze for December 9, 2008.
“We firmly believe that consumers were defrauded by these companies. We're taking action to safeguard consumers and bring these defendants into compliance with our consumer protection laws and regulations,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director.
Deputy Attorneys General Jeffrey Koziar and Cathleen O'Donnell of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section are representing the state in this action.
Consumers who wish to file complaints can contact the Division of Consumer Affairs online at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or by telephone at 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within New Jersey) and 973-504-6200 from all locations.