A credit repair firm has copped penalties worth a total of $1.7 million for unconscionable conduct, after it was found to have charged customers for services that were not necessarily needed or even possible.
Malouf Group, which has traded under various names including Clean Your Credit, Credit Clean Australia, Credit Fix Australia and Credit Wash, and its director Jordan Francis Malouf became the subject of proceedings by ASIC over allegations of misleading and unconscionable conduct.
The Federal Court found that, in calendar years 2014 and 2015, Malouf Group repeatedly breached Australian Consumer by claiming that it would “clean up” the credit history of customers by removing negative listings.
These claims were made despite the business not ascertaining whether the customer actually had any negative listings on their credit file, or if indeed negative listings could be removed.
Other findings of misleading or deceptive conduct included the use of false testimonials on its website and misrepresenting the work it had carried out for the consumer prior to them making payment.
Labelling the conduct as “cynical and calculated”, and the sales tactics used as “disturbing and unconscionable”, the court concluded that Mr Malouf, as the firm’s sole director, was fully aware of his actions, and was involved in the training and supervision of sales staff to ensure they kept to the sales script.
"Consumers who seek out credit repair services should understand that there can be no guarantees that their credit history can be ‘cleaned’. Further, consumers may request corrections to be made to their own credit file for free,” said ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell.
Malouf Group and its director were handed a pecuniary penalty of $400,000 and $100,000, respectively, and an enforceable undertaking to refund customers a total of $1.1 million.
The company was also ordered to pay an additional $100,000 towards ASIC’s costs, bringing the total judgement to $1.7 million.
Credit Clean Australia, one of Malouf Group’s current trading names, has been contacted for comment on the judgement.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.