Bryan Cohen Apr. 23, 2013, 5:06pm

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler announced a settlement Monday with a College Park-based home improvement contractor and the company's owner to resolve allegations that it accessed consumers' credit records without permission.

Washington Home Remodelers and Daniel Bronstein, the company's owner, allegedly accessed the records before establishing a business relationship with consumers to determine if the company would keep scheduled sales appointments. Washington Home Remodelers also allegedly failed to use licensed salespersons, a violation of state law.

"Going behind consumers' backs to look at their credit records is illegal and carries far-reaching risks for consumers," Gansler said. "A large number of credit inquiries could lower consumers' overall credit scores and, through no fault of their own, harm their ability to make large purchases in the future."

Under the terms of the settlement, Washington Home Remodelers and Bronstein can only access the credit records of a consumer after first notifying the consumer of the inquiry and only if they receive permission or have an existing business relationship with the consumer. Bronstein and the company must use only licensed salespersons to sell home improvement services and pay a civil penalty of $25,000. The penalty will double to $50,000 if Bronstein or the company violate the settlement terms.

A large volume of credit inquiries can lower credit scores because the inquiries can be viewed as a sign the consumer is overextending his or her credit.

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