Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

October 5, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Company also sold fraudulent home buying assistance and credit repair services
Victims from Baltimore to District Heights

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. has ordered a Baltimore company to cease offering illegal foreclosure assistance and credit repair services in violation of Marylandís Consumer Protection Act and Credit Repair Businesses Act. Creative Financial & Housing Services, Inc., of 301 N. Charles St., took tens of thousands of dollars from several consumers in what the Attorney Generalís Consumer Protection Division says were deceptive trade practices. Creative Financial was also ordered to pay back the money it took from consumers and may also face additional monetary penalties.

Creative Financial promised consumers whose homes were being subjected to foreclosure that it could delay or prevent the foreclosure proceedings. They charged a fee, usually $750, for the foreclosure assistance service. However, the Division found that Creative Financial was unable to delay foreclosures through legitimate means and merely filed frivolous court pleadings on behalf of the consumers, whose homes were eventually lost to foreclosure.

The company also solicited the consumers to enroll in its "savings program," which it said was sponsored by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enable consumers with past credit problems to purchase new homes. Creative Financial falsely advised consumers that because their homes had been foreclosed upon, they were no longer obligated to make their mortgage payments. It instructed the consumers to make payments to Creative Financial, which promised to hold the money in escrow and later help them purchase a home with the money. However, the Division found that Creative Financial had no relationship with HUD that would enable it to offer consumers enrollment in any HUD program. Instead, Creative Financial and its officers used the money for their own purposes.

Additionally, Creative Financial offered to improve consumersí credit ratings in exchange for an advance fee that was usually several hundred dollars. However, neither Creative Financial nor its officers are licensed or bonded with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation as required by the Maryland Credit Services Businesses Act, so they could not legally offer credit repair services to consumers. Creative Financial also failed to disclose to the consumers that negative information in a consumerís credit history that is accurate cannot be removed.

"Consumers should be wary of quick-fix offers to repair their financial problems because often the services offered are ineffective and may be illegal," said Attorney General Curran. The Attorney General has ordered Creative Financial and its officers to cease taking payments from customers and return payments that have already been collected.