What is a credit repair company?
A credit repair business is a third-party entity that may contact credit bureaus on a person’s behalf. Credit repair businesses may remove inaccurate or negative information that is harmful to a person’s credit score to help improve a person’s credit over time. Many of these organizations may also provide credit monitoring services to minimize credit discrepancies in the future.
Credit repair companies serve an important function for individuals who are seeking to obtain a loan, purchase assets, or simply want to improve their credit. Credit repair companies are also known as credit service organizations (CSOs) by state and federal agencies. Under Florida law, a credit service organization is any person who provides services of improving a buyer’s credit record, history, rating, obtaining an extension of credit for a buyer, or providing advice or assistance to a buyer. It is important that CSOs are compliant with federal and state authorities.
Do I need a license?
No, a license is not required to start a credit repair company in Florida. However, if a CSO wants to charge clients prior to the completion of its services, a CSO must obtain a surety bond of $10,000 issued by a surety company and establish a trust account at a federally insured bank or savings and loan association. If a CSO wants to charge for its services in advance, it must deposit all money received in its trust account until the full performance of the services agreed to perform are complete.
Surety bonds can be acquired from a number of insurance companies, so it is important to compare them to find the most favorable rate.
What information am I required to provide to clients?
Before you provide your consumers with any credit repair services, you are required to provide them with a written contract. Under Florida law, these contracts must contain:
- A statement in bold, immediately next to the consumer’s signature, that informs them of their cancellation rights with respect to the contract.
- The terms and conditions of payment, including specific payment amounts.
- A full and detailed description of all services your business will perform, including all guarantees and promises of refunds.
- Your business’s principal business address and the name of your agent authorized to receive service of process.
- A “Notice of Cancellation” form attached to the contract.
What laws do I need to comply with?
Credit repair businesses are heavily regulated. Any credit repair service organization must comply with the Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA), which is federal law within Title IV of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Additionally, your business must comply with the Florida Credit Service Organizations Act.
It is important to fully understand these laws before you start a credit repair business. In part, these laws prevent your business from:
- Making a false or misleading statement with respect to a consumer’s credit worthiness to the consumer or to credit bureaus;
- Making false or misleading statements in any credit repair service organization advertisements
- Engaging in any kind of business that would constitute fraud or deception.
If you would like to learn more about starting a credit repair business in Florida, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced business attorneys at EPGD Business Law.