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18-045MR Coffs Harbour Credit Repair business pays $21,600 in penalties for false or misleading representations
Credit repair business, Clear Credit Solutions Pty Ltd (Clear Credit) has paid penalties of $21,600 after ASIC issued two infringement notices alleging that Clear Credit had made false or misleading representations on its website and in the scripts used by Clear Credit's sales consultants when dealing with consumers.
ASIC issued the infringement notices because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Clear Credit had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
In March 2017, Clear Credit used scripts that contained statements representing that Clear Credit could determine from reviewing a consumer's credit report, whether it could remove negative listings from that consumer's credit report. ASIC considered that these statements were false or misleading, as negative listings can only be removed in limited circumstances and that removal of the listing cannot be determined from simply reviewing a consumer's credit report.
In November 2016, Clear Credit also stated on its website that it was "voted Australia's most trusted credit restoration service". ASIC considered that this statement was false or misleading as no such voting process had taken place. Clear Credit removed the statement from its website following the commencement of ASIC’s investigation.
Clear Credit generally charged consumers a fee of $990 for its services.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said: "ASIC reminds consumers that default listings and other historical information cannot be removed from a credit report unless they are inaccurate, or out of date. Consumers are able to obtain their credit report for free and can check and correct a wrong listing without having to engage a credit repair business."
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has delegated its functions and powers under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA) and ACL to certain staff members of ASIC to regulate conduct (including taking enforcement action) in relation to credit repair and debt collection.
An infringement notice may be issued when the ACCC has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection provisions of the ACL. The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL.
ASIC's MoneySmart website has useful tips and tools to help consumers check and fix an incorrect listing. This includes how to check and correct information on your credit report and how to contact an Ombudsman for help.