Here’s the catch: Customers looking to improve their credit scores were convinced to join “The Credit Game”, an operation out of Florida that ended up cheating them. Advertising on YouTube, websites, and through email and telemarketing campaigns, The Credit Game promised to boost credit scores to over 780 in a short period of time through “credit piggybacking” and other “guaranteed” credit repair services. They illegally charged customers hundreds and thousands of dollars for useless credit repair services. The scam brought in more than $15 million. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has halted the business as a result of their deception.
Since 2019, Michael and Valarie Rando have operated the credit repair scheme that bilked customers out of their money. Using the credit piggybacking scheme, consumers paid to be added as an authorized user to a credit card account belonging to someone with a higher score. Once added as an authorized user on the account, the favorable credit history would appear on the consumer’s credit report. The consumer doesn’t have access to the account of line of credit--they are an authorized user in name only. The Credit Game also claims to remove negative information from credit reports in as little as 45 days.
In addition to touting the bogus credit repair services, they also convinced consumers to invest their COVID-19 stimulus checks and child tax credit benefits in the credit repair scam. One advertisement was headlined, “Free Credit Repair from the Government”. The Credit Game offered phony business and investment opportunities for consumers to make millions by starting their own credit repair company. The packages used names such as the "Maserati & Lambo" (short for Lamborghini) groups to entice customers to buy in.
Free Credit Repair from the Government Claim
The Credit Game cheated its consumers into believing their credit scheme was successful. Instead, consumers lost hundreds and thousands to the scam. For example, one customer paid The Credit Game $3,000 for the Lambo package. According to the complaint, when their credit score didn’t go up in 30 days as promised by their coach, The Credit Game convinced her to give more time, up to 90 days. After not receiving any results she confronted the company about a refund. Their response was that she paid for “education” not repair. Although the business claims consumers are entitled to a refund if they do not see the promised results, they frequently deny refunds. The Credit Game states they do not offer any services, only education. All services are provided by third-party vendors. And all digital products are excluded from the 100 money back guarantee and are non-refundable.
On May 3, 2022, the courts issued a temporary restraining order against The Credit Game operators and the FTC filed a complaint alleging fraud. The complaint alleges The Credit Game filed thousands of false identity theft reports on behalf of customers with the FTC, a violation of the law. They also are accused of providing false information to credit bureaus, and encouraging their customers to lie to credit bureaus. The business charged illegal advanced fees for credit repair and used high-pressure sales tactics to lure in consumers. Details of the complaint and the company’s illegal actions are detailed in the FTC’s action.
The Credit Game has an F rating with Business Consumer Alliance. Click here to view complaints filed against the business.
If you’re thinking about paying for credit repair services, do your research so you know how to spot a phony credit repair scheme. Avoid a company that:
- Wants you to pay before providing any services.
- Doesn’t explain your legal rights and what you can do for free.
- Instructs you not to contact the nationwide credit reporting companies directly.
- Tells you it can get rid of the negative credit information in your credit report, even if that information is accurate and current. No one can do this.
- Instructs you to give false information on your credit or loan applications.
- Suggests inventing a “new” credit identity by applying for an Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) to use instead of your Social Security number (SSN) or selling you a credit profile/privacy number (a 9-digit number that looks like a SSN) in order to obtain a new credit report, all of which are illegal.
- Advises you to dispute all the information in your credit report, regardless of its accuracy or timeliness.
Before engaging in business with a credit repair company, consider the following advice:
- Check out the company’s BCA report for background information, complaint experience, consumer reviews and more.
- Some credit repair companies change names and locations frequently. It’s important to know who the people are that will be providing the services, so ask for the name and information of the owner(s) or principal(s) of the company and who will be handling your case so you can research them as well. A quick Internet search may reveal information that could impact your decision.
- If the business or individual offering services needs to be registered or licensed in your state, verify that they meet those requirements. If you are unsure, check with your state attorney general’s office.
- Find out and be sure you understand what the company will and will not do. If you take a copy of your credit report to them, ask them exactly what information they will change or remove. Remember that the law requires a written contract, so get these promises in writing.
- Explore all your options. Check your local non-profit housing, religious, or fraternal organizations. Many of these offer counseling assistance to people who need help organizing their finances or homebuyer education. Sometimes these agencies will provide credit report and score remediation assistance, but not always. Be aware that these organizations may charge a fee for their services.
- Make sure you have a recent copy of your credit reports from the major bureaus.
If a credit repair company you hired doesn't live up to its promises, you have some options. You can:
- sue them in federal court for your actual losses or for what you paid them, whichever is more;
- seek punitive damages—money to punish the company for violating the law;
- join other people in a class action lawsuit against the company, and if you win, the company has to pay your attorney's fees.
If you have received an offer that you believe is a scam, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, file a complaint with BCA.
 While you generally cannot remove negative information from your credit report if it is accurate, you can dispute accurate information if it appears multiple times or if the negative information arose from fraud or identity theft.