New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office has reached a settlement with Union Workers Credit Services Inc. (UWCS) and its president, Joe Malazzo, banning the company from offering credit or financial services or products in New York.

The settlement requires UWCS to provide full refunds to victims who paid fees based on deceptive advertisements and pay $50,000 in penalties, costs and fees. UWCS targeted union members with deceptive advertisements that appeared to offer “Platinum” credit cards with a $10,000 credit limit in return for a $37 fee. Consumers who paid the fee did not receive a credit card, but rather, a line of credit that could be used only to purchase items from a catalog of merchandise offered by the company.

“Targeting hardworking union members with false credit offers in these tough times is a shameful practice we refuse to tolerate in New York,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s settlement will give restitution to every New Yorker who fell victim to this scam and ensure that no one else is exposed to this deceptive scheme. I encourage New Yorkers who were deceived to contact UWCS for a refund.”

Schneiderman's office filed suit against UWCS, based in Dallas, and Malazzo in April 2013, after its investigation revealed the company targeted financially vulnerable consumers, including union members, with direct-mail solicitations and internet advertisements that purported to offer a general-use credit card, when in fact the credit could be used only to make purchases from UWCS’s catalogue.

The advertisements also created the false impression that the company was affiliated with labor unions. Some of these solicitations displayed pictures of workers who appeared to be members of labor unions, prompted consumers to select their union from a drop-down menu on the company’s online application, and displayed a statement at the top of the user’s web browser that states, “Union Workers Credit Services--providing credit services to the Union Workers of America.” Consumers also reported difficulty obtaining refunds.

Consumers in cities across New York state, including Long Island, Buffalo, Ithaca and Rochester, received the deceptive solicitations.

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