If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like, a company that promises to boost your credit score by hundreds of points in as little as 45 days might seem like the perfect answer. That’s the result a business called The Credit Game claimed it could deliver with “credit piggybacking” and other credit repair services. But according to the FTC, The Credit Game took people for a ride.

“Credit piggybacking” is where a person who wants to raise their credit score pays a credit repair company to be added as an “authorized user” to a credit card account of someone with a higher credit rating. However, the person becomes an “authorized user” in name only and doesn’t get actual access to the account. The idea is   they can improve their credit by “piggybacking” on the good credit of a stranger, who gets a fee for letting their account be used for the sham.

But it’s a sham. And, in its complaint against the operators of The Credit Game (formerly called Wholesale Tradelines), the FTC says it was just one of many illegal practices the defendants used to milk cash-strapped people out of hundreds and even thousands of dollars for credit repair services that were ineffective, undeliverable, or flat-out illegal.

Among other things, the complaint alleges the defendants charged people before delivering on their credit repair promises, which is illegal for credit repair companies to do. And it alleges they claimed their services were “guaranteed,” but routinely refused to give people refunds.

What’s more, the FTC says, the defendants pitched a bogus business opportunity they falsely claimed would let people make millions by operating their own credit repair companies. According to the complaint, the defendants urged people to use their government COVID-19 benefits – stimulus checks and child tax credits – to buy the supposed opportunity.

If you’re thinking about paying for credit repair services, read Fixing Your Credit FAQs to learn how to spot a credit repair scam. Effective credit repair takes time, but anything a credit repair company can do legally, you are able to do yourself at little or no cost.