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Post date: April 15 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Sues Company For Targeting Union Members With False Credit Card Offers

Company Collected Upfront Fees For Scam Credit Card Offers, Ripping Off Hundreds Of Consumers

Schneiderman: My Office Will Fight To Protect Workers From Companies That Make False Promises

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office filed a lawsuit against Union Workers Credit Services, Inc., and its President, Joe Malazzo, for false advertising and deceptive business practices in connection with their solicitations for a pre-approved "Platinum" credit card. The company, located in Dallas, targeted union members with advertisements and solicitations claiming to offer a general purpose credit card. Consumers learned after paying an upfront fee of either $37.00 or $95.00 that the card could only be used to purchase items from Union Workers Credit Service's limited catalog of merchandise. Other consumers paid the upfront fee and never received anything from Union Workers Credit Services at all.

The Attorney General's lawsuit seeks full restitution for any New Yorker who paid upfront fees to Union Workers Credit Services, a court order prohibiting the company from engaging in false advertising and deceptive business practices, as well as penalties and fees. For every deceptive solicitation the company sent to a prospective customer, the potential penalty is $5,000.

"Targeting and ripping off workers through deceptive advertising is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the State of New York. This company will now pay the price for preying on consumers who were duped into signing up for credit cards that were essentially worthless," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "In these challenging economic times, New Yorkers are working hard to make ends meet and my office will continue to fight everyday to protect them from false advertising and fraudulent business practices."

After reviewing hundreds of complaints from consumers, Attorney General Schneiderman launched an investigation and determined that Union Workers Credit Services was targeting financially vulnerable consumers through direct mail solicitations and internet advertisements. The solicitations cause consumers to believe that the company is affiliated with their labor unions, making them more likely to apply. Some of these solicitations display pictures of workers that are ordinarily members of labor unions, require consumers to select their labor union from a dropdown menu on the online application form, and display a statement at the top of a user's web browser that states, "Union Workers Credit Services - providing credit services to the Union Workers of America.” Although the direct mail solicitation and web advertisements promise that consumers could receive refunds within 60 days if not satisfied with the "Platinum Card," the company routinely failed to provide refunds upon consumers’ requests.

Consumers in cities across New York State, including Long Island, Buffalo, Ithaca and Rochester, received the union member solicitations.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Adam H. Cohen, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Karla G. Sanchez.