FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced on Wednesday that he has filed a lawsuit against a budget management company.

Attorney Bruce D. Atherton of Louisville, Ky., is charged with allegedly tricking a Milford, Ind., family into buying budget management services from him. Under state law, Atherton cannot provide such services without a license.

The Kentucky Bar Association suspended Atherton's law license in September. He is currently facing federal criminal charges for mail and wire fraud and was indicted on criminal charges in New Jersey on several counts, including financial facilitation of criminal activity.

"These credit repair scams are making it harder and harder for Hoosiers to get back on their feet," Zoeller said. "I appreciate the support the General Assembly has provided by passing new laws that will make it harder for these operations to float under the radar."

As of July 1, a new consumer protection law took effect in the state that requires any company dealing in the debt management or debt consolidation business to register a $25,000 surety bond with the AG's office. This provides insurance in case the company fails to deliver on its promises and does not offer a refund.

Zoeller's office has already received 87 consumer complaints against credit services this year, after receiving only 69 in all of 2009.

Zoeller urged all consumers to contact the Attorney General's Office to check if a credit repair company has the necessary bond. If they don't, that company is operating illegally and could be violating other consumer protection laws.

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