New License Could Prevent Credit Scams

Thursday, January 22nd 2009, 2:21 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- There are many people capitalizing on people struggling financially by posing as credit counselors. While some people are legitimate, others are not, State Representative Mike Shelton (D-District 97) wants to make it easier for consumers to tell the difference.

"This bill is about protecting families and making sure that they're not being caught at a vulnerable and desperate time and getting with the wrong kind of business," Representative Shelton said.

Shelton filed a bill which would require credit counseling services to get a state license. Currently, anyone can open a business, claiming to be a credit counselor.

"What we don't want is people passing themselves off as lawyers saying we can fix all your problems and not do anything," Representative Shelton said.

Homeowner Reba Hursh paid $2,900 to a company to save her from foreclosure, but never put a dime toward her mortgage.

"I just didn't have any idea that these type of people were out there," Hursh said.

Hursh saved her house on her own, but she's still out the $2,900 and supports state licensing for credit counselors.

"I think that would be wonderful, then people like me wouldn't fall victim to these people that prey on us," Hursh said.

According to Jennifer Wallis of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, many people fall victim before consulting with the organization.

"A lot of people call us after they have been burned by another company and it's just really sad," Wallis said.

Legitimate companies also agree a licensing requirement's a positive change, but only if the regulations are strict.

Representative Shelton said he'll work with victims and legitimate credit counselors to come up with licensing requirements.