By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – To buy your dream house or land a better job, you need a good credit score, but 20 percent of us don’t have one.  That’s where companies like United Credit Consultants offer to help.

For a price, the Burnsville business says it can improve your credit profile.

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But complaints from former customers have piled up for years and some ex-employees aren’t happy either.

The reasons they seek help are usually very similar to Carey Vanier’s.

“I had student loans, credit card,”  he said. “I had some medical bills and something like that on there.”

The weekly radio show first caught Vanier’s attention. The professional website advertising a unique process to a better financial future got him in the door.

“It seemed legit,” Vanier said.

Vanier signed a $1,200 contract with United Credit Consultants.

“One year, $100 payment each month,” he said.

United Credit Consultants said it would help him improve his credit score by requesting credit reports and disputing inaccurate accounts on them.

But he said weeks would sometimes pass without hearing anything back.

“I didn’t know who was taking care of me, or who I was supposed to talk to,” Vanier said. “I stopped e-mailing, I stopped calling. I can tell you, the last couple times I went there, I just showed up.”

Vanier says his score remained the same during his time at U.C.C. until he took action of his own.

Vanier’s complaint is among a pile of others made in court, posted online and sent to state investigators. The complaints are from clients who say they didn’t get what they paid for from United Credit Consultants.

Joe McGlynn started United Credit Consulants in 2009.  The 30-year-old serves as president and CEO. His wife, Tara, is in charge of billing as the company’s account manager.

“We’re here to help people,” McGlynn said.

U.C.C. has grown considerably in the last few years, serving some 3,000 clients right now.

McGlynn couldn’t tell WCCO how many customers saw a better credit score after signing up.

He said he doesn’t promise that.

“Results are broad,” McGlynn said.

But he said all of U.C.C.’s clients have seen some kind of improvement in their overall credit profile.

McGlynn gave us a list of satisfied customers. They told us they were happy with the service and were given discounts on their bills for writing positive reviews online.

But former employees paint a different picture.

“It’s a disaster,” one told us.

“It was dollar, dollar, dollar, contract value, contract value, that’s all that mattered,” another said.

They agreed to speak out if we didn’t show their faces. They’ve started new jobs and said they didn’t want to be associated with McGlynn’s business.

“As soon as someone enrolled, it was nearly impossible for them to get a hold of an adviser,” one former employee said.

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Former workers said that as the company grew, so did the questionable behavior by their bosses.

“There were definitely multiple times in a week that I would be getting complaints concerning billing,” a former employee said.

United Credit Consultants lays out a clear payment plan, a monthly payment run automatically on the day selected by the client.

“The billing was a mess,” another client told us.

Sam Lamb and his wife agreed to a $176 payment each month. While he saw improvement in his credit score, he also found smaller charges on different days throughout some months, which would have had him overpaying $250 for the year.

“It just felt so wrong,” Lamb said.

U.C.C. says it lets its customers slide their payment if something comes up, and Lamb’s payments were not always current.

“The ones that really put up a fight got their money back,” one former employee said.

Most of the employees McGlynn first hired to grow his business are gone. Their own pay is yet another problem.

“I had a total of 16 bounced checks,” one employee said.

McGlynn parks his Maserati outside his business and on Facebook, he posts about other big purchases.

“His lifestyle is far too important to make the correct choices for the company and the clients,” one former employee said.

McGlynn admits company payroll and billing have both been problems in the past, but he blames rapid growth for the mistakes, telling us it’s a top priority to fix.

“We’re well aware of it,” McGlynn said. “We’re not hiding behind it. I’m not hiding behind it.”

Former employees don’t buy the explanation and want more to be done.

They want the state to step in.

The Department of Commerce has already fined McGlynn $40,000 during his time in business. Most recently, for accepting payments before performing credit services, for false advertising and for practicing debt settlement without a license.

Minnesota’s Department of Commerce says U.C.C. is in compliance as of last spring.

But one former employee, hired last summer, said he offered McGlynn a warning.  In a five-page e-mail he wrote, “If things are left unchanged, U.C.C. will fail … and you might end up in jail.”

He said McGlynn fired him two hours later. Four former employees are suing McGlynn and United Credit Consultants for lost wages. Four other lawsuits have been filed against McGlynn for problems with its service.

The Better Business Bureau gives it an “F” rating.

If you’ve had an issue with U.C.C., or another credit repair company, you can file a complaint by clicking here.

To fix your credit score, Minnesota  has a number of resources, including banking and finance tips, credit counseling services and credit report information.

Editor’s Note: After this story aired on WCCO-TV, United Credit Consultants sent in this statement:

The WCCO report on United Credit Consultants failed to transparently address many facts that WCCO was aware of and chose not to report. The complaint rate with the Better Business Bureau for United Credit Consultants is under 1 percent of all customers. All Better Business Bureau complaints have been resolved and are current. The complaint that the former employees filed with the Minnesota Department of Commerce was ruled in “bad faith.”

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WCCO also failed to include Joe McGlynn’s interview that he wants to make sure every customer is satisfied. Over the past three years, UCC has served over 6,000 satisfied customers.

Liz Collin