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Feds, state sue Mattapan credit-repair company that shares space with a pizza place over alleged deceptive practices

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Massachusetts Attorney General's office have sued Nikitas Tsoukales and his Key Credit Repair of Mattapan over what they say are failed promises to repair people's credit, deceptive marketing and repeated violations of a state law that prohibits taking somebody's money before actually fixing their credit.

Key Credit Repair shares a former fast-food restaurant at 686 Morton St. with Regal Cafe, a 24-hour pizza delivery service that Tsoukales's family owns, next door to the B-3 police station.

In their suit, filed in US District Court in Boston on Friday, the federal bureau and the state AG's office allege Key Credit Repair charged consumers $99.95 to $159.95 in upfront fees and then similar monthly fees for alleged credit-repair services even before the company actually tried to repair their credit ratings, in violation of both federal and state consumer-protection laws - and contrary to federal telemarketing rules - which say companies can only collect fees after providing consumers proof that their credit ratings have, in fact, been improved.

Also, the company failed to comply with a state law requiring such companies to provide an initial invoice showing the total cost of the company's services or to provide Massachusetts consumers with information about how to seek a refund should they be dissatisfied with the services.

KCR also engaged in deceptive marketing through a promise on its Web site to "fix unlimited negative items" on consumers' credit records or increase their credit scores by an average of 90 points within 90 days" when in many cases it did no such thing.

Also, the lawsuit charges, the company does not have a "team of more than 60 credit experts" as promised and most consultations were not "done by our owner, Nik Tsoukales, and his team of certified credit consultants.” In fact, the agencies allege:

KCR, however, has just a handful of Boston-based employees, only some of whom interact directly with consumers. The majority of KCR’s sales and client interactions are conducted by contract telemarketers located in Central America who are compensated almost entirely by commission, based on the number of clients they enroll in KCR’s programs.

In sum, they concluded:

KCR's representations have led consumers to believe that if they paid for KCR's services, the company would help improve their credit scores or remove derogatory information from their credit reports.

In many instances, however, KCR failed to deliver the promised results, and consumers did not see their credit scores improved or negative items removed from their credit reports.

The bureau and the AG's office ask a judge to order KCR to knock it off and to pay back an amount large enough to pay back affected consumers, who could total in the tens of thousands; they say the company enrolled some 40,000 consumers nationwide between 2016 and 2019 and 12,616 Massachusetts consumers between 2011 and 2019. The company brought in at least $23 million in fees between 2011 and 2019, they say. The agencies also ask the judge to consider fines and other penalties.

Because the suit was filed Friday, Tsoukales has not yet had a chance to reply.

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Comments

I've driven past there hundreds of times. The pizza place never looks open and sometimes it looks like the "credit repair" place is open late at night on weekends. I always thought that it was probably a front for something nefarious, but then again, it's right next door to the B3 Cop Shop! What's the deal? Very sketchy.

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Voting closed 18

Location location location, you'll never see a store front like it in Brookline or Chestnut Hill. Winter St downtown would be a safe bet, or Huntington Ave near Symphony Hall.

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Voting closed 10

The address shown on Key Credit Repair's website is "177 Huntington Avenue Suite 1703 #50552 Boston MA 02115-3153". This is the former Christian Science office tower, which I think the church no longer occupies.

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Regal Cafe has had its own run ins with the AG’s office: https://boston.cbslocal.com/2010/11/17/i-team-boston-pizza-store-scam/

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First off- what does the hours the pizza place are open next door have anything to do with Key Credit's hours?!
Second-how does being next door to the police station make it "nefarious"?! If any business would be next to a police station I highly doubt they would be engaging in anything criminal. These accusations make no sense!

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You're obviously not from around here. A 24-hour anything is pretty memorable in Boston, a sleepy provincial town that now has just one actual 24-hour restaurant still in business. Plus, as I noted, even aside from that, the pairing of a pizza place and a credit-repair place in a single small building that used to be some sort of fast-food takeout place is unusual.

As for being next to the police station, you're right, there's nothing nefarious about that location. Me, I mentioned it because the police station is a pretty big building for that particular area (in the greater scheme of things, no, it's not that big, but for that location, it is), and so it's a local landmark and I was trying to describe where the place is. I mean, I suppose I could have mentioned it's kitty corner from the Mobil station or Suds, but the police station just seemed a more instantly recognizable building.

And again, you're obviously not from that area. If you were, you'd recall the time somebody was shot to death at the convenience store at the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street, literally right across the street from the police station. Then there was an infamous bleach attack in the middle of the street, right in front of the station. So simply being located next to B-3 is no guarantee of anything.

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The correct address for the credit repair place is 686 Morton Street. 868 Morton Street does not exist; the closest address is 862 Morton Street.

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Voting closed 10

Thanks!

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Be careful when you order a pizza late at night

how is this place still in business a decade later?

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Must be an error. Better Business Bureau gives him an "A" rating.

https://www.bbb.org/us/ma/boston/profile/credit-repair-no-advanced-fee/k...

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The rating is based more on paying the BBB than anything to do with the actual quality of the business.

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I've used Key Credit. They're good family people that have been in the community since the owner was 2 years old. Nik, the owner grew up working and playing in Regal Donuts and decided to put his office there since his family has been there since the 80's. This company has never had a complaint with the AG or the CFPB in more than 12 years. The CFPB was sued on friday morning because they were doing some shady stuff with consumers and the credit agencies. Over 100 credit repair companies got together and sued them actually. An hour later the CFPB retaliated and started suing companies like Key Credit even though they've never had a single client complaint with them or the AG's office. The credit agencies have been influencing the CFPB quite a bit and have even gotten them to do away with quite a few of our rights under the fair credit reporting act. Nik and many of the compnanies stood up about this issue and these agencies retaliated. God forbid someone speaks up about something. It's interesting how these articles are written to immedietly try and make a good company out to be a scam with zero research. Universal Hub should call the owner and ask some questions. Or, maybe stop by the office. But, I doubt they'd come to our neighborhood.. They's too busy on their 10th round of Golf in Weston.

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You know how I knew to include the pizza part? Because pretty much every single time I drive to Dorchester, which is a fair amount, given that it's the largest neighborhood in the city, and there's a lot of news there, I go down Morton Street. I've been passing this odd pizza/credit-repair place for like more than 10 years now.

As for your specific allegations? I assume you're referring to a lawsuit filed Thursday against the CFPB by the credit-repair trade association over the federal regulations the bureau is attempting to enforce in this case.

But that lawsuit says nothing about the specific Massachusetts consumer-protection law cited in the lawsuit I wrote about (in addition to the federal telemarketing issues cited in the trade-group lawsuit). In addition to being familiar with the area where your friend's office is, one thing I've learned is that federal judges don't tolerate nonsense. So I'm sure he will file a motion for summary judgment or whatever and, if you're correct, will have the case thrown out right quick. But in the meantime, I'll wait for him to file his formal reply, and then report on that.

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Voting closed 9

What did key credit do for you?

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I did it myself. I went from 585 to 720 in 6 months. but the only thing I bought was postage. the communities online that can teach you.

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I once bought a pizza from a Metrowest pizza place that had a sign in the window claiming "New York Pizza". Turned out to be Greek style. Felt deceived.

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Voting closed 9

While we're on the subject of Pizza. New York Pizza is king. Key Credit should offer free pizza for local clients.

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