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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2009
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
 
Final Judgment Permanently Bans Credit Repair and Credit Counseling Firms From Operating in New Jersey

NEWARK - A Final Consent Judgment has been entered against the defendants sued by the Office of the Attorney General and its Division of Consumer Affairs for allegedly offering credit repair and credit counseling services that consumers paid for but did not receive.

Defendants United Credit Adjusters, Bankruptcy Masters Corp., United Counseling Association, Inc., and Credit Bureau Controls Corp. were ordered to pay $500,000 in civil penalties and $86,918 in reimbursement to the state, under the Final Consent Judgment issued on July 28 by Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Cavanagh, Jr.

Defendants Ezra Rishty and Ahron E. Henoch, both of whom were officers of the defendant companies, are personally responsible for paying $15,022 in restitution to 17 consumers. Both men, along with their firms, are permanently banned from doing credit counseling, credit repair, debt adjuster and bankruptcy work in New Jersey, under the Final Consent Judgment.

“This settlement sends a clear message to those who think they can profit from the misfortune of others during these difficult economic times - you are wrong. We will find you, hold you accountable and help the consumers that you have harmed,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said.

The state alleged in its lawsuit 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. There was no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the defendants in settling this matter.

“Consumers in financial trouble are vulnerable to frauds as they seek help and they need to be cautious before paying money to hire anyone who offers assistance,” said David Szuchman, Consumer Affairs Director. “If the result promised sounds to go to be true, it probably is and the consumer may end up in a worse situation.”

The companies had maintained offices in Lakewood, Howell and North Manasquan.

To check whether complaints have been received against a company doing business in New Jersey, consumers can contact the Division at 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within N.J.) or at 973-504-6200. Consumers can file complaints with the Division on its web site at http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/ocp/ocpform.htm or by calling the telephone numbers listed above.

Investigator Roger Hines led the investigation of this case. Deputy Attorneys General Jeffrey Koziar and Cathleen O'Donnell of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section represented the state in this matter.

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