CFPB Reaches Multibillion Dollar Settlement with Credit Repair Conglomerate
August 28, 2023 / Source: CFPB
Largest credit repair brands in America, including Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com, perpetrated years long scheme to illegally harvest billions in fees
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entered into a proposed settlement with a ring of corporate entities operating some of the largest credit repair brands in the country, including Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com. The agreement follows a ruling from the court that the companies collected illegal advance fees for credit repair services through telemarketing in violation of federal law. If approved, the settlement would impose a $2.7 billion judgment against the companies. The order will also ban the companies from telemarketing credit repair services for 10 years.
“Americans across the country looking to improve their credit scores have turned to companies like CreditRepair.com and Lexington Law. These credit repair giants used fake real estate and rent-to-own opportunities to illegally bait people and pad their pockets with billions in fees,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “This scam is another sign that we must do more to fix the credit reporting and scoring system in our country.”
Lexington Law and CreditRepair.com are the largest credit repair brands in the country. The credit repair services are marketed and offered through a web of related entities in the Salt Lake City area, including PGX Holdings, Progrexion Marketing, and the John C. Heath, Attorney-at-Law PC law firm. During the time period relevant to the lawsuit, the companies operated nationwide and had more than 4 million customers who were subjected to telemarketing. In 2022, the defendants had combined annual revenues of approximately $388 million.
The CFPB previously sued the companies to halt their illegal conduct and seek redress and other relief. In March 2023, the that the defendants violated the advance fee provision of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The Telemarketing Sale Rule provides a range of protections for consumers related to telemarketing and sets payment restrictions for certain goods and services. It requires credit repair companies to wait until six months after they provide the consumer with documentation reflecting that the promised results were achieved, before they request or receive payment from the consumer.
Following the district court’s ruling, the companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The companies represented that they had shut down about 80 percent of their business, including their call centers, and laid off about 900 employees in response to the court’s ruling.
Under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), the CFPB has the authority to take action against institutions violating consumer financial laws, including engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, and against institutions violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
If entered by the court, the settlement will, among other things:
- Ban the perpetrators from telemarketing for 10 years: The companies will be banned from telemarketing credit repair services or selling credit repair services that others marketed through telemarketing for 10 years. The companies will also be banned from doing business with certain marketing affiliates. These bans will attach to the companies even after the bankruptcy proceedings are complete.
- Require notices to consumers: The companies will be required to send a notice of the CFPB settlement to any remaining enrolled customers who were previously signed up through telemarketing. The notice will inform consumers of the CFPB’s lawsuit, the court’s summary judgment holding, the settlement, the consumer’s right to cancel their credit repair services, and the process for canceling the service.
- Impose a $2.7 billion judgment for redress: The order would impose a $2.7 billion judgment against the companies for redress. Due to the companies’ financial insolvency, the CFPB will determine whether the CFPB’s victims relief fund can be used to make payments to those harmed by the perpetrators.
- Impose more than $64 million in civil penalties: The order would impose a $45.8 million civil money penalty against Progrexion Marketing and a $18.4 million civil money penalty against the Heath law firm.
Consumers seeking information on how to dispute inaccurate information on their credit report or ways to improve their credit score can learn more through the CFPB’s online guides and tools. Consumers can also submit complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
Employees of companies who they believe their company has violated federal consumer financial laws are encouraged to send information about what they know to [email protected].