The warnings are part of a broader crackdown against illegal scams that promise consumers they can remove blemishes from credit histories for a fee. The FTC, the Department of Justice and 47 other law enforcement and consumer protection agencies joined together for an "Internet surf day" in the past month to locate deceptive advertising and sites that promote such schemes.
A quick search on Yahoo yields almost 20 sites that claim they offer a shortcut to better credit.
Operations that promise a clean bill of credit health and want to charge consumers for the service in advance are violating a new federal law called the Credit Repair Organizations Act, which was designed to help consumers fight fraudulent credit repair scams.
The FTC found more than 60 operations that sell instructions to consumers on how to "legally" swap Social Security numbers so they can start over with a clean credit history. But this practice is illegal, according to the FTC.
"Accurate and timely negative information cannot be removed from a credit report in an effort to repair it," Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.
"It's not only a bad idea to try to create a new credit identity using a false Social Security number, it's also illegal...When it comes to credit repair, only time and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit report."
The FTC is warning Web site operators with email notices and letters that they may be violating laws such as the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits deceptive advertising, as well as the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The agency warns that it will take further legal action if the operations do not discontinue advertising the false claims.
Action against credit repair sites follows similar measures taken by the FTC against "get rich quick" Web sites in the past two months. A spokeswoman for the agency said that after Web sites received a warning about their practice, about 34 percent of the sites changed their claims or shut down operations almost a month later.