State Trying to Help CCCS Customers get Money Back

State Trying to Help CCCS Customers get Money Back

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Division of Consumer Protection is trying to help as many as 1,400 customers of a defunct credit counseling service get the money they may be owed.

The state took control of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Utah last month. The service closed this week amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

On Friday, the consumer protection division announced it had amended an earlier lawsuit filed against the company, which helped financially overwhelmed people deal with creditors and avert bankruptcy by negotiating better repayment terms and establishing debt-repayment plans.

Customers claimed CCCS paid their bills late, and sometimes not at all.

The division claims CCCS President Scott McCagno is personally liable for the company's actions and financial problems because he operated the company without a board of directors in violation of a state law.

The lawsuit also alleges CCCS is overwhelmed with debts -- including more than $85,000 for rent, utilities and other services -- has filed false reports with the IRS and is not current on required tax and withholding reports.

McCagno and CCCS are also cited on 30 counts of violating the state Consumer Sales Practices Act. Each count carries a maximum fine of $1,000.

McCagno's attorney Jim Bradshaw declined to comment Friday.

"As soon as I'm able to review Ûthe state's actionsÝ, I'm sure we'll have a response and we'll defend them," he said.

Francine Giani, director of the Consumer Protection Division, said she would like to see CCCS clients who are owed money get reimbursed and have their personal files containing private information such as credit card and Social Security numbers returned to them.

"There are lot of people who are missing a lot of money and who are worried about their personal information," she said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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