By Brian Bearden, TSB Contributor
A complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission against a McKinney-based credit repair services company owned by Doug Parker is slowly moving toward a U.S. District Court.
The complaint filed on Oct. 12, 2011 against RMCN Credit Services, Inc., has a long way to go.
FTC attorney Thomas B. Carter in the Southwest Region office told TownSquareBuzz the case is a civil and not a criminal complaint. The case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas’ Sherman Division.
Doug Parker, pictured at a blood drive, told TownSquareBuzz.com, “This is a civil case that demonstrates a conflict between State and Federal law. The case also demonstrates a conflict between how a Federal District Court judge and the FTC interprets the law. We filed for a dismissal of the entire complaint in December 2011, are waiting for the Judge’s ruling. If the case is not dismissed, it looks like there is going to be a possible 500-day delay to complete pre-trial work. Once that work is done, we are told it may be another 12- to 15- month wait to go to trial. That time frame, if there are no more delays, would be in early 2015.”
The Department of Justice told TownSquareBuzz this week that a scheduling order has been issued for July 30, 2012.
According to the DOJ, disclosure of expert testimony shall be made by the government by Feb. 25, 2013, and by the defendant by March 27, 2013.
Pretrial disclosure shall be made by Justice by Aug. 30, 2013, and by the defendant by Sept. 10, 2013.
What brings the complaint to the public square is the fact that RMCN owner Doug Parker serves on the appointed board of directors of the McKinney Economic Development Corporation. He was first appointed in 2009. His current appointment runs through 2013.
MEDC is not involved in any way in the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice complaint.
What are Parker’s goals for MEDC?
Parker said, “One of our primary focuses right now is getting the Gateway project back on track. As you know Gateway is the most visible entryway to McKinney. Significant progress toward restarting the Gateway project has been made over the past two years, we are anxious to see the dirt fly on the Emerson project and later the Hotel and Conference Center.
Parker said, “MEDC is also promoting an Emerging Technology program where new technology companies may apply for partial rent reimbursed by MEDC if they are located in McKinney. I sit on the committee responsible for the program, and we are very proud of our success so far, including attracting New Toy [the Words with Friends guys]. With the value of Downtown, Craig Ranch, and Gateway, I feel confident McKinney will continue to grow and flourish.”
MEDC receives a half-cent sales tax to fund the economic growth of McKinney. These funds can be used to assist companies with infrastructure, relocation, training, and other needs.
MEDC receives approximately $8 million annually, and MEDC projects have contributed more than $1 billion to the city’s tax base.
A GROWING BUSINESS
Doug Parker, whose company has almost 100 employees, told TownSquareBuzz about RMCN’s goals: “Simply to continue doing a good job for our clients who need help with items on their credit report that are inaccurate, incomplete, erroneous and obsolete. We project modest growth of 5 percent this year.
“There are few obstacles if you follow the rules, and we have,” Parker said. “We don’t do magic. Many of our clients have been through tough times and hire us to work very closely with them to keep a close eye on their credit reports. We guide them in an effort to teach them to be very proactive about building and maintaining good credit. We want referral business not necessarily repeat business.”
In addition to his second appointment on MEDC, Parker has loyal local support.
Derrick Scobey is the General Sales Manager of RMCN Credit Services Inc. and Pastor of the Restoration Family Church of McKinney. He told TownSquareBuzz that Doug Parker, while acting as founder and CEO of his successful company, has fully committed himself and his family to this community.
Scobey said, “He has based his business in McKinney, strives to conduct business through associates in McKinney, and further contributes to the community via personal involvement on business, community and philanthropic endeavors. Doug and his family see a greater vision for McKinney as a quintessential component of the greater Dallas Metroplex. He has worked and continues to strive to ensure his hometown will benefit as a center of business, a cultural destination, and a healthy neighborhood community.
“In his business he regularly assists his clients in their pursuit of credit repair, which benefits them in so many ways; giving hope and a future when they often have no other recourse,” Scobey said. “What is not so apparent or well known is that Doug selflessly guides his business to sponsor many philanthropic events for the community, because he believes it is important to actively contribute. RMCN sponsors blood drives, food drives, clothing drives, drives for the Red Cross, Operation Appreciation, elements of the McKinney ISD and other events via RMCN Cares, the charitable organization formed as a vehicle for continuing contributions to the community.”
Scobey said RMCN has been in business since 1997 and has helped more than 30,000 clients in a market segment that is crowded with disreputable companies.
“In an effort to elevate the standards and reputation within the credit repair industry on a national level, Doug has been instrumental in the formation of NACSO [The National Association of Credit Services Organizations], where he presides as President,” Scobey said. “The goal of NACSO is to instill integrity, honor and ethics within the industry, while bringing a national presence and voice on a legislative level to the credit repair industry. It is through Doug’s leadership, that industry standards are being raised, and on a national level.”
Parker said, “We have a deep-seated commitment to community service here at RMCN. We have been involved in many organizations and projects here in McKinney and Leadership McKinney was really the catalyst for most of what we do now. After I completed the program in 2007, RMCN has had a total of seven other graduates. The program really gives you a different view of the community and ways that you can get involved and make a real difference. On the About Us page of RepairMyCreditNow.com, you can see a list of how we participate. There are many more projects that we participate in directly, or that our employees do on their own.”
What makes McKinney a good place to do business and raise a family?
Parker said, “Easy answer, we love McKinney. When we moved here in 1996 the population was about 28,000 people; now there are close to 135,000 living here. We have seen McKinney grow rapidly, our kids really don’t remember living anywhere else. They have been in the MISD from kindergarten. Our son is finishing up his Junior year at Boyd and our daughter is finishing up her Freshman year at Boyd. There is an old town feel to McKinney, but as you can see there is a great future here with progress from the highways to the revitalization of Downtown. Who can argue with Money Magazine which has ranked McKinney as the 5th best place in the United States to live?”
Scobey, who met Parker in church in 2006, said, “In 2007 he asked me to come to work for his company in order to assist him with some positive changes that he wanted to make, and in 2008 I joined RMCN Credit Services.”
Scobey said, “In January 2009, Doug and his wife, Julie Parker opened their company up to our new church plant in order for Restoration Family Church of McKinney to start. As a small fledgling congregation, Doug & Julie Parker helped by providing space, finance and encouragement at a very crucial time in the life of our church. This culturally diverse church has since become a church partner of First Baptist Church of McKinney and is poised to be one of the fastest growing churches in McKinney. Doug Parker believed in what He saw God doing in my family’s life and he put his time, talent and treasure where his mouth was. We will be forever grateful for God working through the Parker family.”
Pastor Scobey video: http://youtu.be/JLKOkaTMq-k
Parker said, “To who much is given, much is expected. We enjoy our success, we work hard to achieve it. But I also know that we have been put here to do more than just repair people’s credit; the credit repair company is a tool that enables us to make a positive impact on the lives of our employees, the lives of our clients and in our community.”
BACK TO THE CASE
The Federal Trade Commission voted, 5-0, last October to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice.
The FTC refers a complaint to the DOJ for filing when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The FTC’s Carter said the case is based on two counts.
The Federal Trade Commission has charged the operators of a credit repair company with making false statements to credit bureaus about information in consumers’ credit reports, and illegally collecting fees from consumers before performing any services. An FTC news release stated, “The action is part of the FTC’s continuing crackdown on scams that prey on financially distressed consumers.”
According to the FTC’s complaint RMCN Credit Services Inc. and the married couple who own it, Doug and Julie Parker, advertised a six-month program to improve consumers’ credit reports.
The FTC alleges that the defendants made false statements to credit bureaus disputing the accuracy of negative information in consumers’ credit reports.
The FTC said, “In letters to credit bureaus, which RMCN did not show to consumers, the firm typically disputed all negative information in credit reports, regardless of the information’s accuracy.
“RMCN continued to send these deceptive dispute letters to credit bureaus, even after receiving detailed billing histories verifying the accuracy of the information, or signed contracts from creditors proving the validity of the accounts.
“The complaint alleges that RMCN misrepresented to consumers that federal law allows the company to dispute accurate credit report information, and that credit bureaus must remove information from credit reports unless they can prove it is accurate. In the company’s words, credit bureaus must “prove it or remove it.’ ”
According to the FTC, RMCN charged a retainer fee of up to $2,000 before providing any service, and falsely told consumers that Texas law allows credit repair organizations that are registered and bonded to charge an advance fee.
The defendants are charged with violating the Credit Repair Organizations Act by making untrue or misleading statements to credit bureaus about consumers’ credit worthiness, and by charging fees for credit repair services before they were fully performed.
Doug Parker told TownSquareBuzz, “The cost varies because no two clients are alike. Similar to an automobile break down, the mechanic must evaluate and diagnose the problem to make an estimate of cost. We offer our clients a free consultation to review their situation, and then we make a determination if they are a fit for our program.”
ROLE OF FTC
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
TO READ MORE ON THE CASE
(FTC File No. 082-3253)
A few have given RMCN bad reviews online but did not sign their names.
Parker said, “The Internet is a very powerful and evolving tool for personal interaction and business transactions. But, the troubling nature of the Internet is that people can post anything they choose, true or not, and they can do it anonymously. As in politics, there is little you can do to disprove a negative, but if we discover a negative posting and can determine it is a legitimate complaint we go to work and try to resolve the issue. When we face an anonymous negative posting, there is little we or anyone else can do to resolve the issue.”
To read testimonials from RMCN clients, go to
Doug Parker: http://youtu.be/blYNRnxjgYU
RMCN commerial: http://youtu.be/ptKI_HCZN5w
National Association of Credit Services Organization: http://www.nacso.org/doug.php
COST OF BAD CREDIT
RMCN’s slogan is “Good Credit is like Cash in the Bank. How much does bad credit cost a family over the years?
WHAT DOES THE BBB REPORT?
The Better Business Bureau summarizes the government case against RMCN:
“On October 12, 2011 the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division against RMCN Credit Services, Inc., and owners, Doug Parker and Julie Parker. Specifically, the charges include making false statements to credit bureaus about information in consumers’ credit reports, and illegally collecting fees from consumers before performing any services and violation of the Credit Repair Organizations Act. The complaint seeks a judgment against the Defendants, a permanent injunction to prevent future violations, civil penalties, relief as the Court finds necessary to redress injury resulting from Defendants’ actions and Court costs.”
The Federal Trade Commission has information for you on how to improve your credit report and how to deal with credit repair companies. Call toll-free 877-382-4357 for assistance. You can also go to the Commission’s Web site at www.ftc.gov for free information.
BBB’S REVIEW OF RMCN
The Better Business Bureau has an alert placed on RepairMyCreditNow.com and RMCN Credit Services Inc., based at 1611 Wilmeth Road in McKinney.
RMCN is not BBB accredited.
On a scale of A-plus to F, the BBB has given RMCN an F.
Parker told TownSquareBuzz, “The Better Business Bureau is problematic, it does not allow membership to anyone in my industry. The BBB rates credit repair companies with a grade of “F,” and there is not much we can do about that paradigm. If there is ever an issue, we always respond directly and immediately to the BBB and do our best to resolve the complaint, even though we are not allowed to be a member of their organization.”
According to the BBB, factors that lowered RMCN Credit Services, Inc.’s rating include:
* 27 complaints filed against business.
* 2 complaints filed against business that were not resolved.
* Government action against business.
* One serious complaint filed against business.
According to the BBB, six sales complaints have been closed involving advertising and sales issues. RMCN received three billing and collection issue complaints, six guarantee / warranty complaints and 12 problems with its product or service. In all, the BBB has 27 total closed complaints on file with RMCN in the last three years, including seven in the last 12 months.
Of 15 complaints resolved with BBB assistance, the most recent involved a problem with the product / service. That file was closed March 13, 2012.
BBB reports that the business failed to resolve two complaints. The most recent of the two was closed March 5, 2012, involving a problem with the service. Before that, an advertising / sales issue was cited in October 2011 in an unresolved case.
RMCN’S BBB REVIEW
WHAT ABOUT OTHER
CREDIT REPAIR FIRMS?
TownSquareBuzz checked into the Better Business Bureau rating of 18 other local credit repair services. The BBB shows numbers for the last three years.
BBB ratings are based on 16 factors. A common factor for credit repair services is “BBB concerns with the industry in which this business operates.”
McKINNEY AREA FIRMS
CCRS Credit Services
201 S. McDonald Street 75069
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. One closed complaint.
National Credit Solutions
2035 Central Circle 75069
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Eight closed complaints.
S and S Private Capital Inc
4100 W. Eldorado Parkway 75070
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Three closed complaints.
Trinity Credit Services
404 Power House Street 75071
Not BBB accrredited. Rating F. 20 closed complaints.
Total Score Repair
1024 S. Greenville Ave. Allen 75002
Not BBB accredited. No Rating. Two closed complaints.
180 Credit Solutions
P.O. Box 128, Melissa, TX 75454
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Eight closed complaints.
BX5 Credit Solutions
619 N. 6th Street, Princeton TX 75407
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Zero closed complaints.
CommonWealth Credit Counseling & Restoration
P.O. Box 251522, Plano, TX 75025
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. One closed complaint.
Consumer Credit Associates Group
7617 Constitution Drive, Plano 75025
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Zero closed complaints.
MSI Credit Solutions
2811 Internet Blvd, Frisco, TX 75034
Not BBB accredited. Rating F. Twenty-three closed complaints.
The BBB has seven more credit repair companies listed in the county. To search, go to www.bbb.org.
BBB: If you are in debt and finding it difficult to pay your bills, credit counseling can be a financial lifesaver. The right counselor can advise you on how to use credit wisely; help you establish a workable budget, keep track of your bills and manage your money; and, if appropriate for your situation, arrange a repayment plan with your creditors. In short, a trained and certified specialist can place you on the track to financial security.