Money for nothing: He was paying a credit repair company, but says he wasn't getting anything in return
Canada Credit says matter with customer Doug Randell has now been resolved
A Paradise man, who was paying down a loan he hoped would help repair his credit years after he declared bankruptcy, says the company behind the arrangement was not following up on its promises to improve his financial situation.
Canada Credit now says the matter has been resolved with customer Doug Randell, after receiving inquiries from CBC News.
Randell had gone public and done an interview prior to the resolution.
He claimed Canada Credit told him that, if he signed up for its services, his credit score would increase by 90 per cent in six months.
To do that, he made payments on a loan to another company, even though he was never actually given any cash as part of that arrangement.
But he discovered his payments on the loan weren't being reported to the national credit bureaus.
"You just pay money, and nothing [is] being done," Randell said.
"You feel violated... it's terrible. It makes you feel like you're nothing, actually."
Since CBC News started investigating this matter, Canada Credit's legal department sent an email stating that there had been a development.
"Canada Credit would like to inform you that [the] matter with Douglas Randell has been resolved," the email read.
"Credit Canada [sic] and the customer came up with [a] mutually acceptable resolution," noting that the company had no further comment on this matter.
When CBC News contacted Randell about this resolution, he declined to comment.
Signing the contract
Randell, who's originally from Englee on the Northern Peninsula, told CBC News in an earlier interview that he declared bankruptcy about four years ago.
While surfing social media last fall, he saw an ad for Canada Credit. Randell said he put in some of his information online, and the company called him right away.
"They told me what they would do, clean up my credit report, and they would give me a pre-paid, secured credit card that I could put whatever amount I want on this card to rebuild my credit," he said.
Randell paid a $199 set-up fee, and signed a contract to pay $79 biweekly for 16 months for a "micro-loan" from another company, the Kingston, Ont.-based SkyCap Financial, with an interest rate of 29.99 per cent.
The total amount of the loan, as detailed on Randell's SkyCap contract, is $2,964.
But Randell didn't get any money from that loan. According to his Canada Credit contract, it was being used to pay for "membership fees" with the company.
"The $79 biweekly, I didn't know for sure what it was, but I didn't really ask too many questions — I just thought it was a process that I had to go through," Randell said.
He said when he signed up, he was told his secured credit card was in the mail.
When it didn't show up, he said he called Canada Credit, and a representative told him it would cost another $150 to get that credit card — but he refused to pay any more money than he had already agreed to.
Getting the 'runaround'
In January, Randell discovered his payments weren't being reported to the national credit bureau Equifax. He again called Canada Credit, which he said steered him to SkyCap.
"It was just a runaround each time, every time I called," he said.
"Then they told me not to call back anymore because I was harassing them."
Randell said he asked Canada Credit what would happen if he stopped his payments, and was told that he'd be brought to a collections agency.
"They were sort of saying, 'Well, you signed in, you're signed in.' Tough luck, pretty much," he said.
Randell's Canada Credit contract does state that he can cancel his membership with a written request, but that it won't cancel his financing agreement with the third-party lender.
'Improve your credit score'
The Calgary-based Canada Credit has been in the credit repair business for about a decade.
Its website says clients can:
- "Grow your credit score and repair your bad credit fast";
- "Improve your credit score by introducing a healthy loan on your credit report";
- and "Get approved now!"
While it's called Canada Credit, its website is creditcanada.net — which is similar to creditcanada.com or Credit Canada Debt Solutions, a not-for-profit credit counselling agency that claims to have helped people get out of debt for over 50 years.
Along with the micro-loan, Canada Credit's program lists access to an app, a secured "Cat Platinum" credit card, and "live one-on-one premium support."
The Cat Platinum credit card states it has a 100 per cent approval rate and no credit check.
"Canada Credit cares, and our goal is to help people get the credit they deserve," the company's website states, noting that it offers the tools, direction, and support for customers to achieve their credit improvement goals.
"Rotten things happen to good people. But we share the vision that nobody should be behind due to unforeseen financial hardship."
According to LinkedIn, Canada Credit's president is Sheldon Wolf.
Wolf's personal website also lists ties to other credit repair companies, including Canada Credit Fix, Credit Slab, and Empire Citi Properties, a real estate company.
In addition to that list, Canada Credit's office shares an address with several other companies, including Cat Platinum credit card; Omni Furniture; and Identity Lock, which is involved with identity theft protection.
Wolf did not reply to requests for comment that were sent to his personal website or through social media. Canada Credit's legal department later asked CBC News to solely contact them.
When CBC News initally spoke with a representative from Canada Credit's legal department, the person refused to identify herself over the phone. She said the company would conduct an internal investigation into the matter.
SkyCap Financial declined to do an interview, but its legal department sent a statement to CBC News.
The company said, since 2013, it has helped tens of thousands of individuals who aren't able to get services from traditional banks to gain access to personal loans and financing.
SkyCap said it is solely a lending business, with no other products or services.
It said it can't comment on a customer's complaints dealing with products or services offered by another company.
No jurisdiction for Service NL
Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh was not available for an interview, but her department issued a statement.
It says a number of businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador offer debt consolidation and support services for residents who need help to re-establish credit after personal or business bankruptcy.
But Service NL notes that since Canada Credit is not licensed in this province, the government doesn't have jurisdiction over its operations or advertising practices.
The province says it also doesn't have control over the advertising that consumers may find online.
"This is why it is important for consumers to know as much as possible about the companies they are dealing with before they enter into business with them," the statement reads.