Coffs business fined more than $20,000 for false claims
A COFFS Harbour business has been penalised more than $20,000 for making false and misleading representations.
Credit repair business Clear Credit Solutions Pty Ltd (Clear Credit) was forced to pay $21,600 by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
ASIC issued Clear Credit, which uses a Coffs residential address as its principal place of business, two infringement notices for making false and misleading statements on its website and in scripts used by sales consultants.
In a statement, ASIC said Clear Credit was issued the infringement notices because ASIC had reasonable grounds to believe it breached Australian Consumer Law.
Last March, Clear Credit sales consultants used scripts containing statements that it could determine from reviewing a consumer's credit report whether it could remove negative listings from that consumer's credit report. ASIC considered theses statements false and misleading, as negative listings can only be removed in limited circumstances and the removal of the listing can't 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 this statement was false or misleading as no such voting process had taken place. Clear Credit removed the statement from its website after ASIC's investigation.
Clear Credit generally charged consumers a fee of $990 for its services.
"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default listings and other historical information cannot be removed from a credit report unless they are inaccurate, or out of date.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," ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said.
Clear Credit legal representative, Brett Wilson from Adams Wilson Lawyers, said the incident was under investigation.
"Our client had made a few minor errors on their web site, and when spoken to by ASIC corrected those errors," Mr Wilson said.
"ASIC served some infringement notice on our client and they not understanding the legal issues, paid them on a commercial basis. At the time they were told that if they didn't pay them they would be prosecuted. Since then the matter has been reviewed and our client has formed the view that the allegations are not accurate and should be opposed, and hopefully the infringement payments repaid. The matter is currently under investigation. Therefore our client was not in a position to be prosecuted by ASIC when they paid the fines, despite what ASIC told them at the time."
ASIC said it couldn't confirm or deny if any investigations were ongoing.
It said Clear Credit cannot be repaid any funds that have been paid under an infringement notice.