You may have seen the rental ads on Craigslist offering incredible homes for rent at a great price and all you have to do is go to their website for an alleged “free credit report.” Renters need to be aware that some of these ads are scams as in this case where three crooks operated several sham companies marketing phony rental properties in order to rake in millions of dollars with deceptive promises of “free” credit reports.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced this week that it halted and filed a lawsuit against the Credit Bureau Center LLC, formerly known as MyScore LLC and also doing business as eFreeScore.com, CreditUpdates.com, and FreeCreditNation.com; its owner, Michael Brown; and Danny Pierce and Andrew Lloyd.
According to the FTC, the defendants advertised rental homes on Craigslist that did not exist or they were not authorized to offer the properties. When consumers would call on the ads, the defendants falsely impersonated the property owners and sent emails offering property tours if consumers would first obtain their credit reports and scores from the defendants’ credit websites.
The websites advertised free credit reports and scores. Many of the consumers who took the bait were then enrolled without their knowledge in a monthly credit monitoring service charging them $29.95. The victims did not realize they were being charged for this service and many people were charged for several months before they caught on to the scam.
The complaint also alleges that consumers who obtained their credit reports and scores never got the promised property tours, and that their emails to the purported property owner to arrange the tours went unanswered.
The FTC said the defendants were charged with violating the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Free Reports Rule, which requires that consumers be informed of their right to obtain free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228.