LOGIN
TRY FREE

CREATE YOUR STARTER ACCOUNT

Your first 30 days are FREE...

Upgrade, downgrade or cancel anytime.

How to Start a Credit Repair Business

in

icon-starting
Cost of starting a credit repair business

Roughly $200

icon-starting
Cost to obtain the required $10,000 bond:

Roughly $200

icon-starting
Potential average profit

$20,000 monthly

Credit Repair Laws in Ohio

There are federal and state laws for Ohio. You should be aware of both.

Federal Laws

The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) is a federal law passed in September 1996 that regulates organizations whose purpose is increasing consumer’s credit score through credit repair. One of the most important things the CROA did is make it illegal for credit repair organizations to make false claims. Don’t worry though, staying compliant is pretty easy after you get familiar with the law! This law is moderated and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), so the FTC has the authority to close down any credit repair organizations that are operating outside the parameters of these laws (like fraudulent or illegal activities).

The main sections include mandates that:

  • You can’t misrepresent your services (no false claims about what you will do for the client and definitely no promise of working and then not doing the work).
  • You must provide a written contract between you and the client that the client signs.
  • Your clients have three days to cancel the contract.
  • You can’t charge until services are rendered (most companies will do some initial document processing and then charge the client for the work they have just done).
  • Consumers can sue and get refunded all money paid (plus legal fees and damages)  if the credit repair organization is found to have violated the CROA with that consumer.
  • State laws can’t change or render any of the CROA ineffective.

Simply put, these laws were put in place to protect people from credit repair companies using scammy business practices. As long as you’re not trying to be sketchy and scam people, you should be able to stay compliant easily!

To read the Credit Repair Organizations Act in full, visit the United States House of Representatives’ record of the act here.

State Laws

Ohio has laws that govern how to start (and run!) a credit repair business in Ohio. Here are the relevant regulations and Ohio laws governing credit repair businesses that you need to be aware of:

Ohio State Laws

Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code Annotated Currentness
Title XLVII. Occupations--Professions

Chapter 4712. Ohio Credit Services Organization Act (Refs & Annos)

4712.01 Definitions


As used in sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code:

(A) "Buyer" means an individual who is solicited to purchase or who purchases the services of a credit services organization for purposes other than obtaining a business loan as described in division (B)(6) of section 1343.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) "Consumer reporting agency" has the same meaning as in the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128, 15 U.S.C.A. 1681a, as amended.

(C)(1) "Credit services organization" means any person that, in return for the payment of money or other valuable consideration readily convertible into money for the following services, sells, provides, or performs, or represents that the person can or will sell, provide, or perform, one or more of the following services:

(a) Improving a buyer's credit record, history, or rating;

(b) Obtaining an extension of credit by others for a buyer;

(c) Providing advice or assistance to a buyer in connection with division (C)(1)(a) or (b) of this section;

(d) Removing adverse credit information that is accurate and not obsolete from the buyer's credit record, history, or rating;

(e) Altering the buyer's identification to prevent the display of the buyer's credit record, history, or rating.

(2) "Credit services organization" does not include any of the following:

(a) A person that makes or collects loans, to the extent these activities are subject to licensure or registration by this state;

(b) A mortgage broker, as defined in section 1322.01 of the Revised Code, that holds a valid certificate of registration under sections 1322.01 to 1322.12 of the Revised Code;

(c) A lender approved by the United States secretary of housing and urban development for participation in a mortgage insurance program under the "National Housing Act," 48 Stat. 1246 (1934), 12 U.S.C.A. 1701, as amended;

(d) A bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association, or a subsidiary or an affiliate of a bank, savings bank, or savings and loan association. For purposes of division (C)(2)(d) of this section, "affiliate" has the same meaning as in division (A) of section 1101.01 of the Revised Code and "bank," as used in division (A) of section 1101.01 of the Revised Code, is deemed to include a savings bank or savings and loan association.

(e) A credit union organized and qualified under Chapter 1733. of the Revised Code or the "Federal Credit Union Act," 84 Stat. 994 (1970), 12 U.S.C.A. 1751, as amended;

(f) A budget and debt counseling service, as defined in division (D) of section 2716.03 of the Revised Code, provided that the service is a nonprofit organization exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the "Internal Revenue Code of 1986," 100 Stat. 2085, 26 U.S.C.A. 501, as amended, and that the service is in compliance with Chapter 4710. of the Revised Code;

(g) A consumer reporting agency that is in substantial compliance with the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128, 15 U.S.C.A. 1681a, as amended.

(h) A mortgage banker;

(i) Any political subdivision, or any governmental or other public entity, corporation, or agency, in or of the United States or any state of the United States;

(j) A college or university, or controlled entity of a college or university, as defined in section 1713.05 of the Revised Code;

(k) A motor vehicle dealer licensed pursuant to Chapter 4517. of the Revised Code acting within the scope and authority of that license or a motor vehicle auction owner licensed pursuant to Chapters 4517. and 4707. of the Revised Code acting within the scope and authority of that license.

(D) "Extension of credit" means the right to defer payment of debt, or to incur debt and defer its payment, offered or granted primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. "Extension of credit" does not include a mortgage.

(E) "Mortgage" means any indebtedness secured by a deed of trust, security deed, or other lien on real property.

(F) "Mortgage banker" means any person that makes, services, or buys and sells mortgage loans and is approved by the United States department of housing and urban development, the United States department of veterans affairs, the federal national mortgage association, or the federal home loan mortgage corporation.

(G) "Superintendent of financial institutions" includes the deputy superintendent for consumer finance as provided in section 1181.21 of the Revised Code.

4712.02 Certificates of registration

(A) A credit services organization shall file a registration application with, and receive a certificate of registration from, the division of financial institutions before conducting business in this state. The registration application shall be accompanied by a one-hundred-dollar fee and shall contain all of the following information:

(1) The name and address of the credit services organization;

(2) The name and address of any person that directly or indirectly owns or controls ten per cent or more of the outstanding shares of stock in the organization;

(3) Either of the following:

(a) A full and complete disclosure of any litigation commenced against the organization or unresolved complaint that relates to the operation of the organization and that is filed with the attorney general, the secretary of state, or any other governmental authority of the United States, this state, or any other state of the United States;

(b) A notarized statement stating that no litigation has been commenced and no unresolved complaint relating to the operation of the organization has been filed with the attorney general, the secretary of state, or any other governmental authority of the United States, this state, or any other state of the United States.

(4) Any other information required at any time by the division.

(B)(1) Except as otherwise provided in division (B)(2) of this section, each credit services organization shall notify the division in writing within thirty days after the date of a change in the information required by division (A) of this section.

(2) Each organization shall notify the division in writing no later than thirty days prior to any change in the information required by division (A)(1) or (2) of this section and shall receive approval from the division before making any such change.

(C)(1) A credit services organization shall attach both of the following to the registration application submitted pursuant to division (A) of this section:

(a) A copy of the contract that the organization intends to execute with its customers;

(b) Evidence of the bond required under section 4712.06 of the Revised Code.

(2) Any modification made to the contract described in division (C)(1)(a) of this section shall be filed with the division prior to its use by the organization.

(D) Each credit services organization registering under this section shall maintain a copy of the registration application in its files. The organization shall allow a buyer to inspect the registration application upon request.

(E) Each nonresident credit services organization registering under this section shall designate and maintain a resident of this state as the organization's statutory agent for purposes of receipt of service of process.

(F) If, in order to issue a certificate of registration to a credit services organization, investigation by the division outside this state is necessary, the division may require the organization to advance sufficient funds to pay the actual expenses of the investigation.

(G) Each credit services organization registering under this section shall use no more than one fictitious or trade name.

(H)(1) A certificate of registration issued by the division pursuant to this section shall expire annually on the thirtieth day of April.

(2) A credit services organization may renew its certificate of registration by filing with the division a renewal application accompanied by a one-hundred-dollar renewal fee.

(I) All money collected by the division pursuant to this section shall be deposited by it in the state treasury to the credit of the consumer finance fund.

(J)(1) No credit services organization shall fail to comply with division (A) of this section.

(2) No credit services organization shall fail to comply with division (B), (D), (E), (F), or (G) of this section.

4712.03 Suspension, revocation, or refusal of certificate of registration

After notice and a hearing conducted in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, the superintendent of financial institutions may suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue or renew a certificate of registration if any of the following conditions applies to the applicant for registration or registrant:

(A) The applicant or registrant obtained a certificate of registration through any false or fraudulent representation or made any substantial misrepresentation in any registration application.

(B) The applicant or registrant made false promises through advertising or other means or engaged in a continued course of misrepresentations.

(C) The applicant or registrant violated any provision of Chapter 1345. or sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code or the rules adopted thereunder.

(D) The applicant or registrant was convicted, in a court of competent jurisdiction of this state or any other state, of a felony or any criminal offense involving fraud, or failed to notify the division of financial institutions of any such conviction.

(E) The applicant or registrant engaged in conduct that constituted improper, fraudulent, or dishonest dealings.

4712.04 Written statements

(A) Before executing a contract or agreement with a buyer or receiving money or other valuable consideration, a credit services organization shall provide the buyer with a written statement containing all of the following information:

(1) A complete and detailed description of the services to be performed by the organization for the buyer and the total cost of the services;

(2) A statement explaining the buyer's rights against the surety bond required pursuant to section 4712.06 of the Revised Code;

(3) The name and address of the surety company that issued the surety bond;

(4) A complete and accurate statement of the availability of nonprofit budget and debt counseling services.

(B) The written statement required under division (A) of this section shall be printed in at least ten-point boldface type and shall include the following statement or any alternative statement prescribed by the division of financial institutions:

"Credit Reporting Practices
Rights of Consumers Under Ohio and Federal Law 

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have all of the following legal rights:

You have a right to obtain a copy of your credit report from a consumer reporting agency. You may be charged a reasonable fee. However, there is no fee if you have been turned down within the preceding sixty days for credit, employment, insurance, or a rental dwelling because of information in your credit report. The consumer reporting agency must provide someone to help you interpret the information in your credit file.

You have a right to dispute inaccurate information by contacting the consumer reporting agency directly. However, neither you nor any credit services organization has the right to have accurate, current, and verifiable information removed from your consumer reporting agency report. The consumer reporting agency must remove accurate, negative information from your report only if it is more than seven years old. Bankruptcy information can be reported for ten years. Accurate information cannot be permanently removed from the files of a consumer reporting agency. Credit reporting agencies are required to follow reasonable procedures to ensure that creditors report information accurately. However, mistakes may occur.

You may, on your own, notify a consumer reporting agency in writing that you dispute the accuracy of information in your credit file. The consumer reporting agency then must reinvestigate and modify or remove inaccurate information. The consumer reporting agency must not charge any fee for this service. Any pertinent information and copies of all documents you have concerning an error should be given to the consumer reporting agency.

If reinvestigation does not resolve the dispute to your satisfaction, you may send a brief statement to the consumer reporting agency to keep in your file, explaining why you think the record is inaccurate. The consumer reporting agency must include your statement about disputed information in any reports it issues about you.

Under Ohio law, you have a right to sue a credit services organization that violates the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act. This law prohibits deceptive practices by credit services organizations and gives you a right to cancel your contract for any reason within three business days from the date you signed it."

(C) The credit services organization shall maintain a copy of the statement, signed by the buyer, acknowledging receipt of the statement. The copy shall be maintained in the organization's files for at least two years after the date on which the statement is provided to the buyer.

(D) The credit services organization, in a timely manner, shall notify each buyer of all substantive changes in the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128, 15 U.S.C.A. 1681a, and shall provide each buyer with copies of those changes.

(E) No credit services organization shall fail to comply with this section.

4712.05 Contracts

(A) Each contract between the buyer and a credit services organization for the purchase of the services of the organization shall be in writing, dated and signed by the buyer, and shall include all of the following:

(1) A statement, in type that is boldfaced, capitalized, underlined, or otherwise conspicuously set out from surrounding written material and that is in immediate proximity to the space reserved for the signature of the buyer, as follows:

"If you, the buyer, have been denied credit within the last sixty days, you may obtain a free copy of the consumer credit report from the consumer reporting agency. You also have the right to dispute inaccurate information in a report.

You may cancel this contract at any time before midnight of the third business day after the date you signed it. See the attached notice of cancellation form for an explanation of this right."

(2) The terms and conditions of payment, including the total of all payments to be made by the buyer, whether to the credit services organization or to another person;

(3) A full and detailed description of the services to be performed for the buyer by the credit services organization, including all guarantees and all promises of full or partial refunds, and the estimated length of time, not exceeding sixty days or any shorter time period prescribed by the superintendent of financial institutions, for performing the services;

(4) The address of the credit services organization's principal place of business and the name and address of its agent in this state authorized to receive service of process;

(5) With respect to the previous calendar year or the time period during which the credit services organization has been in business, whichever is shorter, the percentage of the organization's customers for whom the organization has fully and completely performed the services the organization agreed to perform for the buyer.

(B) The contract shall have attached two easily detachable copies of a notice of cancellation. The notice shall be in boldface type and in the following form:

"Notice of Cancellation

You may cancel this contract, without any penalty or obligation, within three business days after the date the contract is signed.

To cancel this contract, mail or deliver a signed, dated copy of this cancellation notice, or other written notice, to:

______________________________ at __________________________________________
(Name of Seller) (Address of Seller) (Place of Business)
Not later than midnight ______________________________________________________
(Date)
I hereby cancel this transaction.
Dated: ___________________________ __________________________________________
(Buyer's signature)"

(C) The credit services organization, at the time of signing, shall give to the buyer a copy of the completed contract and all other documents the organization requires the buyer to sign.

(D) No credit services organization shall breach a contract described in this section or fail to comply with any obligation arising from such a contract.

(E) No credit services organization shall fail to comply with division (A), (B), or (C) of this section.

4712.06 Surety bonds

(A) No credit services organization shall conduct business in this state unless the organization has obtained a surety bond issued by a surety company authorized to do business in this state and all of the following conditions are met:

(1) A copy of the bond is filed with the division of financial institutions.

(2) The bond is in favor of any person, and of the state for the benefit of any person, that is injured by any violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code.

(3) The bond is in the amount of fifty thousand dollars.

(4) The bond is maintained and in effect for at least two years after the date on which the credit services organization ceases to conduct business in this state.

(B) Any person claiming against the bond for a violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code may maintain an action at law against the credit services organization and against the surety company. However, the surety company is liable only for damages awarded under division (A)(2) of section 4712.10 of the Revised Code and not for punitive damages awarded under division (A)(3) of section 4712.10 of the Revised Code. The aggregate liability of the surety company to all persons injured by a credit services organization's violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code shall not exceed the amount of the bond.

4712.07 Prohibitions

No credit services organization, salesperson, agent, or representative of a credit services organization, or independent contractor that sells or attempts to sell the services of a credit services organization shall do any of the following:

(A) Charge or receive directly or indirectly from a buyer money or other consideration readily convertible into money until all services the organization has agreed to perform for the buyer are completed within the time periods described in division (A)(3) of section 4712.05 of the Revised Code.

(B) Charge or receive directly or indirectly from a buyer money or other consideration readily convertible into money for the referral of the buyer to a person that makes an extension of credit or to a consumer reporting agency, except when credit has actually been extended as a result of that referral;

(C) Make or use a false or misleading representation in the offer or sale of the services of the organization, including either of the following:

(1) Guarantying or otherwise stating that the organization is able to delete an adverse credit history, unless the representation clearly discloses that this can be done only if the credit history is inaccurate or obsolete;

(2) Guarantying or otherwise stating that the organization is able to obtain an extension of credit regardless of the buyer's previous credit problems or credit history, unless the representation clearly discloses the eligibility requirements for obtaining an extension of credit.

(D) Engage, directly or indirectly, in an unconscionable, unfair, or deceptive act or practice, as those terms are used and defined in Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code, in connection with the offer or sale of the services of a credit services organization;

(E)(1) Make or advise a buyer to make a false or misleading statement concerning the buyer's creditworthiness, identification, credit standing, or credit capacity to any of the following:

(a) A consumer reporting agency;

(b) A person that has made an extension of credit to the buyer;

(c) A person to which the buyer is applying for an extension of credit.

(2) Division (E)(1) of this section applies to any statement that the organization, salesperson, agent, representative, or independent contractor knows or should know to be false or misleading through the exercise of reasonable care.

(F) Advertise or cause to be advertised, in any manner, the services of a credit services organization without being registered with the division of financial institutions;

(G) Fail to maintain a statutory agent as required under division (E) of section 4712.02 of the Revised Code;

(H) Transfer or assign a certificate of registration issued by the division pursuant to section 4712.02 of the Revised Code;

(I) Submit the buyer's disputes to a consumer reporting agency without the buyer's knowledge as evidenced by positive identification, including the buyer's correct current residence address, and written authorization personally signed by the buyer;

(J) Fail to maintain, for a period of time as determined by the superintendent of financial institutions, all of the following:

(1) A log of all contracts;

(2) Copies of each contract;

(3) Documentation that substantiates the validity of the representation made pursuant to division (A)(5) of section 4712.05 of the Revised Code;

(4) Any other record specified by the superintendent.

(K) Contact a consumer reporting agency, by telephone or otherwise, for the purpose of submitting or obtaining information relative to any buyer, and state or imply that he or she is the buyer or the buyer's attorney, guardian, or other legal representative;

(L) Engage, directly or indirectly, in any fraudulent or deceptive act, practice, or course of business in connection with the offer or sale of the services of a credit services organization.

4712.08 Fraudulent practices

No credit services organization shall do any of the following:

(A) Obtain a certificate of registration through any false or fraudulent representation or make any substantial misrepresentation in any registration application;

(B) Make false promises through advertising or other means in the conduct of its business or engage in a continued course of misrepresentations in the conduct of its business;

(C) Engage in conduct that constitutes improper, fraudulent, or dishonest dealings in the conduct of its business;

(D) Fail to notify the division of financial institutions if the credit services organization is convicted, in a court of competent jurisdiction of this state or any other state, of a felony or any criminal offense involving fraud.

4712.09 Waiver of buyers' rights

(A) No credit services organization shall cause or attempt to cause a buyer to waive a right under sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code.

(B) Any waiver by a buyer of a right under sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code is void.

4712.10 Civil actions; injunctive relief; criminal prosecutions

(A)(1) A buyer injured by a violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code may bring an action for recovery of damages.

(2) Damages awarded under division (A)(1) of this section shall not be less than the amount paid by the buyer to the credit services organization, plus reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.

(3) The buyer may be awarded punitive damages.

(4) No action shall be brought under division (A)(1) of this section after four years after the date of the execution of the contract for services to which the action relates.

(B)(1) The division of financial institutions, the attorney general, or a buyer may bring an action to enjoin a violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code.

(2) The division may initiate criminal proceedings under sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code by presenting any evidence of criminal violations to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the offense may be prosecuted. If the prosecuting attorney does not prosecute the violations, or at the request of the prosecuting attorney, the division shall present any evidence of criminal violations to the attorney general, who may proceed in the prosecution with all the rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law on prosecuting attorneys, including the power to appear before grand juries and to interrogate witnesses before such grand juries. These powers of the attorney general shall be in addition to any other applicable powers of the attorney general.

(C) The remedies provided by this section are in addition to any other remedy provided by law.

(D) In any proceeding or action brought under sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code, the burden of proving an exemption under those sections is on the person claiming the benefit of the exemption.

(E) No person shall be deemed to violate sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code with respect to any act taken or omission made in reliance on a written notice, written interpretation, or written report from the superintendent of financial institutions, unless there is a subsequent amendment to those sections, or the rules promulgated thereunder, that affects the superintendent's notice, interpretation, or report.

4712.11 Unfair or deceptive acts or practices

(A) A violation of division (J) of section 4712.02, division (E) of section 4712.04, division (D) or (E) of section 4712.05, division (A) of section 4712.06, section 4712.07 or 4712.08, or division (A) of section 4712.09 of the Revised Code is deemed to be an unfair or deceptive act or practice in violation of section 1345.02 of the Revised Code.

4712.12 Investigations; cease and desist orders

(A) The division of financial institutions may investigate alleged violations of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code, or the rules adopted thereunder, or complaints concerning any such violation. The division may make application to the court of common pleas for an order enjoining any such violation and, upon a showing by the division that a person has committed, or is about to commit, such a violation, the court shall grant an injunction, restraining order, or other appropriate relief.

(B) In conducting any investigation pursuant to this section, the division may compel, by subpoena, witnesses to testify in relation to any matter over which it has jurisdiction, and may require the production of any book, record, or other document pertaining to such matter. If a person fails to file any statement or report, obey any subpoena, give testimony, produce any book, record, or other document as required by such a subpoena, or permit photocopying of any book, record, or other document subpoenaed, the court of common pleas of any county in this state, upon application made to it by the division, shall compel obedience by attachment proceedings for contempt, as in the case of disobedience of the requirements of a subpoena issued from the court or a refusal to testify therein.

(C) If the division determines that a person is engaged in, or is believed to be engaged in, activities that may constitute a violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code, the division may, after notice and a hearing conducted in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, issue a cease and desist order. Such an order shall be enforceable in the court of common pleas.

4712.13 Disclosure of numbers

A credit services organization shall disclose in any printed or published advertisement relating to the credit services organization's services, the number designated on the certificate of registration that is issued to the credit services organization by the division of financial institutions under sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code. No credit services organization shall fail to comply with this section.

4712.14 Rulemaking powers

The superintendent of financial institutions may adopt, in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, reasonable rules to carry out the purposes of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code.

4712.99 Penalties

Whoever violates division (J) of section 4712.02, division (E) of section 4712.04, division (D) or (E) of section 4712.05, division (A) of section 4712.06, section 4712.07 or 4712.08, or division (A) of section 4712.09 of the Revised Code is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree.


Case Law 
Denying request to certify a class action against car dealership for violations of the Credit Services Organization Act. Hall v. Jack Walker Pontiac Toyota , Inc., 143 Ohio App.3d 678, 758 N.E.2d 1151 ( Ohio App. 2 Dist., 2000).

There is a split of authority in Ohio whether a buyer must make a separate payment specifically for the purpose of obtaining credit services to bring a transaction within the scope of the Act. Compare: 
Automobile buyers brought suit against a car dealer alleging that the dealer’s conduct in helping to obtain credit for the car purchase, as an inducement to sale, was regulated under the Credit Services Organization Act and that the buyer was entitled to rescind within three days. The court ruled that even if the dealers were engaged in a credit services business, the car buyers were not “buyers” within the meaning of the act because they did not pay the car dealer for that service. Snook v. Ford Motor Co., 142 Ohio App.3d 212, 755 N.E.2d 380 ( Ohio App. 2 Dist., 2001). 
Plaintiffs who made payments to automobile dealership by check and trade-in equity as part of "mixed transaction" of credit services, which resulted in a lease agreement with lender and ultimately acquisition of motor vehicle pursuant to lease with lender, were "buyers" of services of dealership, which was a "credit services organization," for purposes of Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA). Sannes v. Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, Inc., 107 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 736 N.E.2d 112 ( Ohio Com.Pl. 1999). 

In an unpublished decision, the Ohio Court of Appeals has ruled that the Credit Services Organization Act is a strict liability statute pursuant to which a violator could be enforced without demonstrating mens rea. State v. Schlosser, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1996 WL 280038 ( Ohio App. 2 Dist.,1996). 


Hall v. Jack Walker Pontiac Toyota, Inc.
143 Ohio App.3d 678, 758 N.E.2d 1151
Ohio App. 2 Dist.,2000.
December 01, 2000 

143 Ohio App.3d 678, 758 N.E.2d 1151 
Court of Appeals of Ohio ,
Second District, Montgomery County . 
HALL et al., Appellants,
v.
JACK WALKER PONTIAC TOYOTA, INC. et al., Appellees. 
No. 18014. 
Decided Dec. 1, 2000. 
Automobile purchasers and lessors brought actions against automobile dealerships alleging that dealerships violated Credit Services Organization Act. The Montgomery County Common Pleas Court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs and rejected class certification. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals, Frederick N. Young, J., held that: (1) proposed class was circular and ambiguous, and (2) class did not meet any of three alternatives for certification under class action rule.
Affirmed. 
West Headnotes

[1] KeyCite Notes

30 Appeal and Error
30XVI Review
30XVI(H) Discretion of Lower Court
30k949 k. Allowance of Remedy and Matters of Procedure in General. Most Cited Cases

In reviewing the trial court's judgment in a class action, the Court of Appeals may only reverse the judgment upon a finding of an abuse of discretion by the trial court, as a trial judge has broad discretion in determining whether a class action may be maintained.

[2] KeyCite Notes

106 Courts
106I Nature, Extent, and Exercise of Jurisdiction in General
106k26 k. Scope and Extent of Jurisdiction in General. Most Cited Cases

An abuse of discretion is more than a mere error of law or judgment but must demonstrate an unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable attitude.

[3] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(C) Particular Classes Represented
287k35.71 k. Consumers, Purchasers, Borrowers, or Debtors. Most Cited Cases

Proposed class composed of people who bought or leased cars from defendant car dealerships, who acted as credit services organization under Credit Services Organization Act and provided assistance to buyer in improving buyer's credit record, or in obtaining credit for buyer, was circular and ambiguous, where class members could not be identified through dealerships' business records, and court could not determine class members from definition, but would first have to examine facts of cases to determine whether dealerships acted as credit services organization. R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a-e); Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B).

[4] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(A) In General
287k35.5 k. Factors, Grounds, Objections, and Considerations in General. Most Cited Cases

Before an action may be certified as a class action, the following seven requirements must be met: (1) an identifiable class must exist and the definition of the class must be unambiguous, (2) the named representatives must be members of the class, (3) the class must be so numerous that joinder of all the members is impracticable, (4) there must be questions of law or fact common to the class, (5) the claims or defenses of the representative parties must be typical of the claims or defenses of the class, (6) the representative parties must fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class, and (7) one of the three requirements of the rule for maintaining class actions must be met. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B).

[5] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(C) Particular Classes Represented
287k35.61 k. In General. Most Cited Cases

Classes such as “all poor people,” “all people who have been or may be harassed by the police,” and “all people who have ever worked within five miles of a specific site” are too ambiguous to permit identification with reasonable effort and therefore these classes may not be certified.

[6] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(C) Particular Classes Represented
287k35.71 k. Consumers, Purchasers, Borrowers, or Debtors. Most Cited Cases

Separate actions by automobile buyers and lessors alleging that dealerships violated Credit Services Organization Act would not lead to incompatible standards of conduct, and thus class certification was not appropriate, where only variance among cases would be based on individual facts of each case. R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a-e); Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B)(1)(a).

[7] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(A) In General
287k35.5 k. Factors, Grounds, Objections, and Considerations in General. Most Cited Cases

Merely demonstrating that there is a risk of inconsistent or varying adjudication is insufficient to justify certification as class action; one must show that the defendant will have to adhere to differing standards of conduct. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B).

[8] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(C) Particular Classes Represented
287k35.71 k. Consumers, Purchasers, Borrowers, or Debtors. Most Cited Cases

Automobile buyers and lessors were not entitled to injunctive or declaratory relief in action alleging that automobile dealerships violated Credit Services Organization Act, and thus class certification was not appropriate under rule allowing for certification when party opposing certification has acted on grounds generally applicable to class and injunctive or declaratory relief is appropriate, where statute had been changed to exclude automobile dealers, and declaratory relief had already essentially been granted. R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a-e); Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B)(2).

[9] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(C) Particular Classes Represented
287k35.71 k. Consumers, Purchasers, Borrowers, or Debtors. Most Cited Cases

Individual facts of each case would predominate over common issues in action by automobile purchasers alleging that dealerships violated Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA), and thus certification as class action was not justified, where individual facts of each case would have to be examined to determine whether dealerships' behavior towards buyers made dealers credit services organizations. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B)(3).

[10] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(A) In General
287k35.17 k. Community of Interest; Commonality. Most Cited Cases

For purposes of determining whether class certification is warranted, questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over individual questions when (1) common issues are a significant aspect of the case, and (2) common issues are capable of resolution in a single adjudication. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B)(3).

[11] KeyCite Notes

287 Parties
287III Representative and Class Actions
287III(A) In General
287k35.17 k. Community of Interest; Commonality. Most Cited Cases

In determining whether class certification is warranted, it is not sufficient for common questions of law and fact to simply exist; if each cause of action requires individualized proof, then common questions do not predominate. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 23(B)(3).

**1152 *680 Ronald L. Burdge and Randal S. Knight, Dayton, for appellants.
Stephen D. Brandt and Erin B. Moore, Dayton , for appellee Jack Walter Pontiac Toyota, Inc.
Jay R. Langenbahn, Cincinnati , for appellees Joseph Oldsmobile GMC Truck/Nissan, Inc. and Joseph Toyota, Inc.

FREDERICK N. YOUNG, Judge.
Appellants, Prataung Hall et al., are appealing from a judgment of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court that found that the appellants failed to meet the requirements for the certification of their claims as a class action.

Appellants purchased or leased automobiles from the appellees, Joseph Oldsmobile GMC Truck/Nissan, Inc., Joseph Toyota, Inc., and Jack Walker Pontiac Toyota, Inc., within the last three years. Allegedly, rather than obtaining independent financing, the appellants received assistance from the appellees in gaining financing **1153 during the sale or lease transaction. Appellants allege that appellees failed to register as credit services organizations and, in the process, violated the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act (“CSOA”) and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (“CSPA”). Specifically, appellants allege that *681 appellees' assistance constitutes an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the CSPA.

Several cases throughout Montgomery County involving proposed class actions against automobile dealers for violating the CSOA and CSPA on the above-mentioned theory were consolidated on September 1, 1998. The matter was referred to a magistrate to address the motion for class certification and a motion for summary judgment filed by appellants. On March 11, 1999, the magistrate recommended that appellants' motion for summary judgment be granted and, on March 23, 1999, recommended that the motion for class certification be granted. Appellees filed objections to the magistrate's decision on April 7, 1999. On September 24, 1999, the common pleas court judge issued a decision approving the magistrate's recommendation on summary judgment and rejecting the magistrate's recommendation for class certification. Specifically, the trial court found that (1) appellants' class was not unambiguously defined and (2) none of the three alternative requirements of Civ.R. 23(B) was met. Both appellants and appellees filed notices of appeal. Appellees attempted to appeal the trial court's decision on the motion for summary judgment but this was dismissed for lack of a final appealable order. Thus, the only matter before this court is the appellants' appeal of the trial court's denial of their motion for class certification.

Appellants raise two assignments of error:

“1. The trial court erred when it held that a class had not been unambiguously defined.

“2. The trial court erred when it found that individualized issues predominate over common issues in this case and that none of the three alternative requirements of Civ.R. 23(B) had been met.”

Appellants argue that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion in denying appellants' motion to certify a class action by holding that appellants' proposed class was defined ambiguously and by finding that appellants had failed to meet any of the three alternative requirements of Civ.R. 23(B). We disagree.

[1] [2] In reviewing the trial court's judgment, this court may only reverse the judgment upon a finding of an abuse of discretion by the trial court, as a trial judge has broad discretion in determining whether a class action may be maintained. Marks v. C.P. Chem. Co., Inc. (1987), 31 Ohio St.3d 200, 31 OBR 398, 509 N.E.2d 1249. An abuse of discretion is more than a mere error of law or judgment but must demonstrate an unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable attitude. Blakemore v. Blakemore (1983), 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219, 5 OBR 481, 482, 450 N.E.2d 1140, 1142. The Ohio Supreme Court has held that “[i]t is at the trial level that decisions as to class definition and the scope of questions to be treated *682 as class issues should be made.” Marks, 31 Ohio St.3d at 201, 31 OBR at 399, 509 N.E.2d at 1252.

Appellants' first assignment of error

[3] [4] Appellants argue that the trial court incorrectly found that appellants' class definition was ambiguous because each member of the class could be determined from the appellees' own records and that the trial court's reasoning for finding the definition ambiguous contradicts its finding of facts. Before an action may be **1154 
certified as a class action, the following seven requirements must be met:

(1) An identifiable class must exist and the definition of the class must be unambiguous;

(2) The named representatives must be members of the class;

(3) The class must be so numerous that joinder of all the members is impracticable;

(4) There must be questions of law or fact common to the class;

(5) The claims or defenses of the representative parties must be typical of the claims or defenses of the class;

(6) The representative parties must fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class; and

(7) One of the three Civ.R. 23(B) requirements must be met. Hamilton v. Ohio Sav. Bank (1998), 82 Ohio St.3d 67, 71, 694 N.E.2d 442, 448, citing Civ.R. 23(A) and (B); Warner v. Waste Mgt., Inc. (1988), 36 Ohio St.3d 91, 521 N.E.2d 1091.

[5] As for the first requirement, Civ.R. 23 requires that the means be “specified at the time of certification to determine whether a particular individual is a member of the class.” Planned Parenthood Assn. of Cincinnati, Inc. v. Project Jericho (1990), 52 Ohio St.3d 56, 63, 556 N.E.2d 157, 165. Classes such as “all poor people,” “all people who have been or may be harassed by the police,” and “all people who have ever worked within five miles of a specific site” are too ambiguous to permit identification with reasonable effort and therefore these classes may not be certified. Warner, 36 Ohio St.3d at 96, 521 N.E.2d at 1096.

In the instant case, appellants proposed as their class definition people who:

(a) entered into a consumer transaction with defendant,

(b) involving the sale or lease of a motor vehicle,

(c) between four years prior to the filing of this case and the present date,

*683 d) where the sale or lease was provided with the defendant's advice or assistance to the buyer in connection with

(1) improving a buyer's credit record, history, or rating, or,

(2) obtaining an extension of credit for the buyer, and

(e) where the defendant's activities constituted those of a “credit services organization” under the Credit Services Organization Act.

In determining that the class was not unambiguously defined, the trial court focused on part (e) of the appellants' class definition. The trial court held in its decision granting appellants' motion for summary judgment that in each case the appellants would have to prove on the facts of the individual cases that the appellees met the definition of a credit services organization by (1) charging or receiving, directly from the buyer, money, or valuable consideration, and (2) selling, providing, or performing or representing “that the company could or would sell, provide or perform any of the credit services specified in R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a) [through] (e).” Therefore, the trial court reasoned that one could not determine the class members from the definition since in order to determine whether one is in the class, the court would first have to examine the facts of the individual case to determine if the appellee acted as a credit services organization; yet, if you do not know which individuals are in the class, one cannot determine if the appellee acted as a credit services organization towards that individual. Since one cannot determine until the facts of the individual claim are examined **1155 whether an appellee is a credit services organization, which appellants' class definition depends upon, the appellants' class definition is circular and ambiguous.

Appellants argue that the appellees' business records would show to which individuals the appellees behaved as a credit services organization. However, if an individual purchased a vehicle from an appellee who represented that the company could perform a credit service specified in R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a) through (e), but, instead, the individual paid in cash for the vehicle, the appellee would meet the definition of a credit services organization and the individual would meet appellants' class definition but not be identified through appellees' business records. The appellees' records would not offer any evidence that would identify for a class action this type of individual or any other individual who simply received advice or information on the credit services available but chose not to utilize them. As one could not determine whether an individual is part of the class and no other means of identifying these individuals was proposed, no abuse of discretion appears in this rationale of the trial court finding the definition ambiguous.

*684 Appellants also argue that the trial court issued inconsistent statements in its decision. In the statement of facts the trial court stated, “[E]ach of the plaintiffs received assistance in obtaining financing during the course of the sale or lease transactions and none of the plaintiffs independently obtained financing.” Appellees argue that this was not a finding of fact but simply a statement of the appellants' allegations, as demonstrated by the trial court's conclusion that in order for the appellees to be credit services organizations, the appellants must prove (1) that the appellees charged or received a fee and (2) that they provided or represented that they could provide credit services. In its decision, the trial court in a definite and precise manner concluded that appellants must prove in each individual case that the appellees provided, performed, or represented that they could provide credit services. The apparent contradiction in the trial court's statement of facts clearly amounts to no more than a misstatement. The trial court derived its statement of facts from the findings of fact of the magistrate, who recommended class certification. Apparently, the trial court transferred the facts from the magistrate and did not notice the contradiction in her failure to use the term “allegedly.” However, this amounts only to a simple misstatement and does not demonstrate an unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable attitude on the part of the court. Thus, we find no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in determining that the class definition was ambiguous and, for that reason, denying class certification. The appellants' first assignment of error is without merit and is, therefore, overruled.

Appellants' second assignment of error

Appellants argue that the trial court erred in finding that none of the three alternatives under Civ.R. 23(B) applies. In order to be certified as a class action, the parties must meet one of the three alternative requirements of Civ.R. 23(B), which are as follows:

“(1) the prosecution of separate actions by or against individual members of the class would create a risk of

“(a) inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual members of the class which would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or

“(b) adjudications with respect to individual members of the class which would as a practical matter be dispositive of the **1156 interests of the other members not parties to the adjudications or substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests; or

“(2) the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the class as a whole; or

*685 “(3) the court finds that the questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.” Civ.R. 23(B); Warner, supra.

The trial court found that the appellants failed to meet any of the three alternatives under Civ.R. 23(B). We will examine each of the three alternatives for any possible abuse of discretion by the trial court.

[6] [7] First, we will address the alternatives listed in Civ.R. 23(B)(1). As for Civ.R. 23(B)(1)(a), one may only be certified under this prong when the evidence proves that “separate actions could lead to incompatible standards of conduct” (emphasis deleted) for the defendants. Warner, 36 Ohio St.3d at 95, 521 N.E.2d at 1095. Thus, merely demonstrating that there is a risk of inconsistent or varying adjudication is insufficient as one must show that the defendant will have to adhere to differing standards of conduct. Id. at fn. 2.

Here, the trial court found little risk that trying the cases separately would lead to incompatible standards of conduct. Arguing this was an abuse of discretion by the trial court, appellants point to several actions in Ohio 's common pleas courts that have reached differing results. Yet, the trial court addressed these cases and found that these cases varied on the issue of whether the CSOA was applicable to the defendants in those cases. In the instant case, the trial court in its decision granting appellants' motion for summary judgment, which appellants did not appeal, held that if the appellants, based on the facts of the individual case, proved that the appellees have performed as a credit services organization, then the CSOA would be applicable for that individual's claim. Thus, the trial court concluded that the only variance among the cases would be based on the individual facts of each case and not result in varying standards of conduct for the appellees. We find no abuse of discretion in this determination.

Regarding Civ.R. 23(B)(1)(b), the Ohio Supreme Court has found this provision to be similar to interpleader suits where the amount of money available is limited and a risk is posed that the funds could become depleted before all of the parties have made a claim. Warner, supra. See, also, Shaver v. Standard Oil Co. (1990), 68 Ohio App.3d 783, 589 N.E.2d 1348; Marks, 31 Ohio St.3d at 203, 31 OBR at 400-401, 509 N.E.2d at 1253 (determining that class certification is inappropriate if plaintiffs fail to offer evidence of the probable insolvency of the defendants). Appellants have not argued that a limited amount of funds is available, nor demonstrated that the interests of other parties would be impaired by separate actions. The trial court reasoned that no detriment would come to the ability of other plaintiffs to pursue their claims, but rather that these plaintiffs may benefit from the trial court's ruling that the CSOA can be applied *686 to these appellees. We find no abuse of discretion by the trial court in finding that Civ.R. 23(B)(1)(b) does not apply to the appellants.

[8] Next, we will address the alternative for certification listed in Civ.R. 23(B)(2), which provides for class certification**1157 when the party opposing class certification has acted on grounds generally applicable to the class and injunctive or declaratory relief is appropriate. The Ohio Supreme Court has stated that “Civ.R. 23(B)(2) has, as its primary application, a suit seeking injunctive relief.” Warner, 36 Ohio St.3d at 95, 521 N.E.2d at 1095. If the primary relief requested is damages, Civ.R. 23(B)(2) is inapplicable. Marks, 31 Ohio St.3d at 204, 31 OBR at 401, 509 N.E.2d at 1254.

Appellants argue that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion in finding that since the CSOA had been changed to exclude automobile dealers from the statute, then injunctive or declaratory relief is inappropriate. Appellants argue that an automobile dealership may still be found liable if it exceeds the scope of its license or if the amendment to the statute is found unconstitutional. However, the CSOA has been amended to provide that one may be found to be a credit services organization only if consideration is given in exchange for credit services. Thus, even if the automobile dealership exceeds the scope of its license, the statute excludes the dealer from being a credit services organization. Furthermore, although appellants argue that the amended CSOA is unconstitutional, they do not have standing to raise this argument, as all of the appellants are bringing claims under the unamended CSOA. Therefore, the trial court correctly concluded that injunctive relief is inappropriate. As for declaratory relief, the trial court determined that this relief has essentially already been granted through the grant of the appellants' motion for summary judgment so that now the appellants need only demonstrate that, based on the individual facts of each case, the appellees (1) charged or received from the buyer valuable consideration and (2) sold, provided, or represented that the company could sell or provide any of the credit services listed in R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)(a) through (e). Therefore, declaratory judgment would also be inappropriate. We find no evidence of an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable attitude on the part of the trial court as to this alternative either.

[9] [10] [11] Finally, we address the last alternative, Civ.R. 23(B)(3), which provides for class certification if questions of law or fact common to the class members predominate over questions for individual members, and a class action is a superior method to other available methods to adjudicate the controversy. Focusing on the first prong of this alternative, questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over individual questions when (a) common issues are a significant aspect of the case and (b) common issues are capable of resolution in a single adjudication. Marks, 31 Ohio St.3d at 204, 31 OBR at 401, 509 N.E.2d at 1254. Therefore, it is not sufficient for common questions of law and fact to *687 simply exist. Id. “If each cause of action requires individualized proof * * *, then common questions do not predominate.” Shaver, 68 Ohio App.3d at 798, 589 N.E.2d at 1358. Furthermore, the trial court has an advantage in its unique perspective of the issues in the case because it routinely handles case management problems and “is in the best position to analyze the difficulties which can be anticipated in litigation of class actions.” Marks, 31 Ohio St.3d at 201, 31 OBR at 399, 509 N.E.2d at 1252.

Appellants argue that the trial court erred in finding that individual issues predominate over common questions of law and fact, such as, whether the appellees' contracts, advertising, and loan agreements violate the CSOA. The trial court focused on the reality that the next step in the claims would be to examine the individual facts of each case to determine if the **1158 behavior of an appellee towards an individual appellant made the appellee a credit services organization. Thus, the trial court reasoned that the individual facts of each case would predominate over the common issues of the CSOA for the remainder of the trial. Since each claim requires individualized proof and the trial court was in the best position to analyze the difficulties of proceeding as individual cases versus a class action, we see no evidence of an unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable attitude. We find no abuse of discretion, and the second assignment of error is without merit and overruled.

The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.

BROGAN and WOLFF, JJ., concur.

Ohio App. 2 Dist.,2000.
Hall v. Jack Walker Pontiac Toyota , Inc.
143 Ohio App.3d 678, 758 N.E.2d 1151

 


Snook v. Ford Motor Co.
142 Ohio App.3d 212, 755 N.E.2d 380
Ohio App. 2 Dist.,2001.
Apr 06, 2001 


142 Ohio App.3d 212, 755 N.E.2d 380 
Court of Appeals of Ohio ,
Second District, Montgomery County . 
SNOOK et al., Appellees, 
v. 
FORD MOTOR COMPANY et al.; Beau Townsend Ford, Appellant. [FN*] 

FN* Reporter's Note: A discretionary appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio was not allowed in (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 1416, 754 N.E.2d 262. 

No. 18483.
Decided April 6, 2001.

Car purchasers brought action against automobile dealership and others, alleging a violation of the Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA). The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of car purchasers. Automobile dealership appealed. The Court of Appeals, Montgomery County, Frederick N. Young, J., held that purchaser's affidavit was insufficient to establish that she was a "buyer" under the CSOA.
Reversed and remanded.
Wolff, P.J., filed a dissenting opinion. 
West Headnotes

[1] KeyCite Notes

30 Appeal and Error
30XVI Review
30XVI(F) Trial De Novo
30k892 Trial De Novo
30k893 Cases Triable in Appellate Court
30k893(1) k. In General. Most Cited Cases

"De novo review" of a summary judgment order means that the Court of Appeals uses the same standard that the trial court should have used, and it examines the evidence to determine whether as a matter of law no genuine issues exist for trial.

[2] KeyCite Notes

30 Appeal and Error
30XVI Review
30XVI(A) Scope, Standards, and Extent, in General
30k862 Extent of Review Dependent on Nature of Decision Appealed from
30k863 k. In General. Most Cited Cases

Trial court's decision on a summary judgment motion is not granted any deference by the reviewing appellate court.

[3] KeyCite Notes

92B Consumer Credit
92BI In General
92Bk3 License and Regulation in General
92Bk4 k. Particular Businesses or Transactions. Most Cited Cases

In order for a plaintiff to assert a successful claim against a defendant under the Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA), the plaintiff must qualify as a "buyer" and the defendant as a "credit services organization." R.C. § 4712.01(A), (C)(1) (1999).

[4] KeyCite Notes

92B Consumer Credit
92BI In General
92Bk3 License and Regulation in General
92Bk4 k. Particular Businesses or Transactions. Most Cited Cases

In actions under the Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA), even if defendant meets the criteria set forth in the statute for classification as a "credit services organization," plaintiff must still demonstrate that he is a "buyer," and thus a member of the class that the CSOA seeks to protect. R.C. § 4712.01(A), (C)(1) (1999).

[5] KeyCite Notes

92B Consumer Credit
92BI In General
92Bk3 License and Regulation in General
92Bk4 k. Particular Businesses or Transactions. Most Cited Cases

In order to qualify as a "buyer" under the Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA), an individual must obtain the services of a credit services organization in exchange for money or its equivalent. R.C. § 4712.01(A), (C)(1) (1999).

[6] KeyCite Notes

228 Judgment
228V On Motion or Summary Proceeding
228k182 Motion or Other Application
228k185.3 Evidence and Affidavits in Particular Cases
228k185.3(1) k. In General. Most Cited Cases

Car purchaser's summary judgment affidavit stating that she would not have transferred $500, traded in her vehicle, or purchased a used car were it not for automobile dealership's obtaining her an extension of credit was insufficient to establish that she "purchased" dealership's credit services, as required for her to maintain an action against dealership under the Credit Services Organization Act (CSOA) as a "buyer." R.C. § 4712.01(A) (1999).
**381 *214 
Ronald L. Burdge, Dayton, for appellees.
Patrick K. Dunphy, Dayton, for appellant.

FREDERICK N. YOUNG, Judge.
Beau Townsend Ford is appealing the judgment of the trial court finding that it was a credit services organization in its conduct towards Cynthia and Randy Snook and was thus liable to the Snooks under the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act.
On August 27, 1997, Cynthia and Randy Snook, the appellees, purchased a used 1994 Ford Bronco from Beau Townsend Ford ("appellant"). The Snooks transferred possession and title of a 1995 Ford F-150 truck as well as $500 at the time of purchase. Appellant represented that it could and did, in fact, assist the Snooks in obtaining an extension of credit and financing from Ford Motor Credit Company. Appellant was never licensed as a credit services organization under the law.
On June 23, 1999, the Snooks filed their complaint against the appellant, Ford Motor Credit Company, and Ford Motor Company. On October 4, 1999, the Snooks filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the fourth claim of the complaint, which alleged a violation of the Credit Services Organization Act ("CSOA"). The Snooks complained that the appellant failed to register under the CSOA and failed to provide the Snooks with a notice of a right to cancel the agreement within three days. The appellant opposed the motion, but on January 6, 2000, the trial court sustained the Snooks' motion for partial summary judgment on their fourth claim. All of the Snooks' remaining claims against the appellant were later dismissed in a grant of summary judgment to the appellant. On August 1, 2000, the trial court issued a judgment entry on the fourth claim in the Snooks' favor against appellant, which then filed this timely appeal.
Appellant's sole assignment of error is:
"The trial court committed prejudicial error by granting summary judgment against appellant on the claim of appellees under the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act, Ohio Revised Code 4712.01 et seq."
[1] [2] When reviewing a trial court's grant of summary judgment, an appellate court conducts a de novo review. Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co. (1996), 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105, 671 N.E.2d 241, 244-245. "De novo review means that this court *215 uses the same standard that the trial court should have used, and we examine the evidence to determine whether as a matter of law no genuine issues exist for trial." Brewer v. Cleveland City Schools Bd. of Edn. (1997), 122 Ohio App.3d 378, 383, 701 N.E.2d 1023, 1026, citing Dupler v. Mansfield Journal Co. (1980), 64 Ohio St.2d 116, 119-120, 18 O.O.3d 354, 356-357, 413 N.E.2d 1187, 1190-1191. Thus, the trial court's decision is not granted any deference by the reviewing appellate court. Brown v. Scioto Cty. Bd. of Commrs. (1993), 87 Ohio App.3d 704, 711, 622 N.E.2d 1153, 1157- 1158.
Summary judgment can be appropriately granted where (1) "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact; (2) * * * the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) * * * reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary **382 judgment is made, who is entitled to have the evidence construed most strongly in his favor." Harless v. Willis Day Warehousing Co. (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 64, 66, 8 O.O.3d 73, 74, 375 N.E.2d 46, 47; see, also, Civ.R. 56(C). The movant has the burden to prove that no genuine issues of material fact exist by specifically pointing to evidence in the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, etc., which show that the nonmovant has no evidence to support its claims. Harless, supra; Dresher v. Burt (1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 293, 662 N.E.2d 264, 273-274; Civ.R. 56(C).
Prior to June 29, 1999, the CSOA defined, a "credit services organization" ("CSO") as:
"any person that charges or receives, directly from the buyer, money or other valuable consideration readily convertible into money, and that sells, provides, or performs, or represents that the person can or will sell, provide, or perform, any of the following services:
"(a) Improving a buyer's credit record, history, or rating;
"(b) Obtaining an extension of credit for a buyer;
"(c) Providing advice or assistance to a buyer in connection with division (C)(1)(a) or (b) of this section;
"(d) Removing adverse credit information that is accurate and not obsolete from the buyer's credit record, history, or rating;
"(e) Altering the buyer's identification to prevent the display of the buyer's credit record, history, or rating." (Emphasis added.) R.C. 4712.01(C)(1). [FN1] 
FN1. The statute has been amended to define a CSO as "any person that, in return for the payment of money or other valuable consideration readily convertible into money for the following services, sells, provides, or performs, or represents that the person can or will sell, provide, or perform, one or more of the following services: * * *." (Emphasis added.) R.C. 4712.01(C)(1).

*216 [3] [4] The CSOA goes on to define a "buyer" as "an individual who is solicited to purchase or who purchases the services of a [CSO] for purposes other than obtaining a business loan as described in division (B)(6) of section 1343.01 of the Revised Code." R.C. 4712.01(A). In order for a plaintiff to assert a successful claim against a defendant under the CSOA, the plaintiff must qualify as a buyer and the defendant qualify as a CSO. Tran v. Ricart Jeep Eagle, Inc. (Jan. 26, 2000), Franklin C.P. No. 98CVH03-2533, unreported. "[E]ven if defendant meets the criteria set forth in the statute for classification as a ['CSO'], plaintiff must still demonstrate that he is a 'buyer,' and thus a member of the class that the CSOA seeks to protect." Blinkoff v. Ricart Ford, Inc. (Jan. 18, 2000), Franklin C.P. No. 98CVH03-2280, unreported.
[5] The statutory definition of "buyer" requires that the individual "purchase" the services of the CSO. R.C. 4712.01(A). "Purchase" is defined as "[t]o obtain in exchange for money or its equivalent: BUY." Webster's Second New College Dictionary (1999) 899. Thus, in order to qualify as a "buyer" under the statute, an individual must obtain the services of the CSO listed in R.C. 4712.01(C)(1) in exchange for money or its equivalent.
The trial court reasoned that the Snooks had purchased a "bundle" of goods during the exchange with the appellant. The trial court found that the Snooks transferred a vehicle, with a significant amount of equity, and $500 in exchange for the used 1994 Bronco, the inseparable package of credit services, and other concomitants. Thus, **383 the trial court concluded that the amount the Snooks transferred purchased the entire bundle of goods, including the credit service of assisting the Snooks in obtaining an extension of credit. We do not agree with this reasoning.
In the instant case, even though the trial court had before it evidence that the credit services and the vehicle were connected in a bundle of goods, the trial court did not have any evidence that the appellant was receiving compensation for the credit services it was performing. The Snooks presented no evidence to the trial court that the appellant was being compensated for the credit services it performed in any manner. The trial court had no evidence that the cost of the credit services were included in the cost appellant charged for the vehicle or that a separate fee was charged for the services. In order to qualify as a buyer, the Snooks must show a transfer of money or its equivalent to appellant specifically for the credit services performed.
*217 [6] The only evidence offered before the trial court was the affidavit of Ms. Snook, in which she swore that she would not have transferred $500, traded in her vehicle, or purchased the Bronco were it not for the appellant obtaining her an extension of credit. However, we find this to be self-serving and insufficient evidence that she "purchased" appellant's credit services. Ms. Snook would have us believe the doubtful concept that she gave the appellant $500 and her trade-in vehicle solely for the appellant's assistance in helping her obtain an extension of credit from Ford Motor Credit Company. Although appellant had an opportunity to offer into evidence an affidavit stating that the credit services it offered the Snooks were gratuitous but failed to do so, the subjective belief of Ms. Snook that she bought the credit services is insufficient on its own to prove that she transferred money in exchange for the credit service. To find otherwise would be to invite every individual who ever purchased or leased a vehicle at an auto dealership, which even slightly assisted the individual in obtaining an extension of credit, to reflect and in hindsight determine that were it not for the auto dealer's slight assistance in obtaining credit the individual would not have purchased the vehicle or transferred any money to the auto dealer. If this hindsight, self-serving testimony were all that was necessary to make such an auto dealer liable under the CSOA, then Ohio courts would be besieged with a flood of litigation against auto dealers by past customers.
Therefore, in order for the Snooks to be granted their motion for summary judgment, they must offer evidence that they transferred money or its equivalent to the auto dealer specifically for the services of a CSO which it offered. The Snooks must show that they either paid a separate fee for the CSO services or that the cost of the credit services was included in the cost of the vehicle in order to prove that the credit service was "purchased" and not gratuitous. Without evidence of a transfer of money or its equivalent to appellant specifically for the credit services appellant performed, the Snooks could not prove that they had "purchased" the services of appellant as a CSO. Therefore, the Snooks could not demonstrate as a matter of law that they were "buyers" under the statute.
Since genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether the Snooks meet the statutory definition of a "buyer," the trial court improperly granted summary judgment in the Snooks' favor. Thus, we need not address whether the appellant met the statutory definition of a CSO or if the amendment to the statute could be applied **384 retroactively. The judgment of the trial court is reversed and the case is remanded.
Judgment reversed and cause remanded.

*218 
BROGAN, J., concurs.

WOLFF, P.J., dissents.

WOLFF, Presiding Judge, dissenting.
I respectfully dissent. The majority has not addressed whether Beau Townsend Ford is a CSO but has determined only that there are material issues of fact on the question of whether the Snooks were "buyers" within the meaning of R.C. 4712.01(A). In my opinion, the unrebutted affidavit of Cynthia Snook is sufficient to establish the Snooks' "buyer" status under the statute. Because the statutory definition of "buyer" requires the purchase of certain defined services from a CSO--see R.C. 4712.01(C)(1)--I believe it is necessary to add that the unrebutted affidavit of Mrs. Snook is, for me, sufficient to establish Beau Townsend Ford's CSO status. Based on the statute in effect at the time the parties dealt with each other and the record in this case, I would affirm.
Ohio App. 2 Dist.,2001.
Snook v. Ford Motor Co.
142 Ohio App.3d 212, 755 N.E.2d 380
END OF DOCUMENT 

Sannes v. Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, Inc.
107 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 736 N.E.2d 112
Ohio Com.Pl.,1999.
Feb 11, 1999 (Approx. 3 pages) 


107 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 736 N.E.2d 112 
Court of Common Pleas of Ohio ,
Clermont County . 
SANNES et al. 
v. 
JEFF WYLER CHEVROLET, INC. [FN*] 

FN* Reporter's Note: The defendant subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration. On July 1, 1999, the court denied that motion. See Sannes v. Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, Inc. (1999), 107 Ohio Misc.2d 11, 736 N.E.2d 116. Thereafter, the parties settled pursuant to an entry filed October 12, 1999. There was no further appeal. 

No. 97CV0916.
Decided Feb. 11, 1999.

Lessees who leased certain motor vehicle from creditor that purchased such vehicle from automobile dealership filed complaint against dealership, alleging that dealership violated Credit Services Organization Act and Consumer Sales Practices Act. Dealership subsequently moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not a "credit services organization" as defined by Credit Services Organization Act, and lessees cross-moved for summary judgment. The Court of Common Pleas, Clermont County, Robert P. Ringland, J., held that: (1) dealership was a "credit services organization," within context of statute requiring credit services organization to allow a buyer to rescind a transaction within three days after transaction was made, and (2) lessees were "buyers," within context of statute.
Judgment accordingly. 
West Headnotes

[1] KeyCite Notes

228 Judgment
228V On Motion or Summary Proceeding
228k181 Grounds for Summary Judgment
228k181(2) k. Absence of Issue of Fact. Most Cited Cases

228 Judgment KeyCite Notes 
228V On Motion or Summary Proceeding
228k182 Motion or Other Application
228k185 Evidence in General
228k185(2) k. Presumptions and Burden of Proof. Most Cited Cases

Before summary judgment can be granted, a party must show that (1) no genuine issue as to any material fact remains to be litigated; (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and viewing the evidence most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion is made. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 56.

[2] KeyCite Notes

228 Judgment
228V On Motion or Summary Proceeding
228k182 Motion or Other Application
228k185 Evidence in General
228k185(2) k. Presumptions and Burden of Proof. Most Cited Cases

When a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the nonmoving party may not rest on mere denials in the pleading, but must respond with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 56(E).

[3] KeyCite Notes

228 Judgment
228V On Motion or Summary Proceeding
228k182 Motion or Other Application
228k185 Evidence in General
228k185(2) k. Presumptions and Burden of Proof. Most Cited Cases

A motion for summary judgment forces the nonmoving party to produce evidence on any issue for which that party bears the burden of production at trial. Rules Civ.Proc., Rule 56.

[4] KeyCite Notes

92B Consumer Credit
92BI In General
92Bk3 License and Regulation in General
92Bk4 k. Particular Businesses or Transactions. Most Cited Cases

Automobile dealership that agreed to sell certain motor vehicle to creditor, and creditor in turn agreed to lease such vehicle to lessees was a "credit services organization," within context of statute requiring credit services organization to allow a buyer to rescind a transaction within three days after transaction was made; lessees gave dealership certain amount of money and traded in their vehicle towards their lease of new vehicle, there was no statutory requirement that money received from lessees be consideration for services provided by credit services organization, and dealership assisted lessees in obtaining an extension of credit from creditor. R.C. §§ 4712.01(A), 4712.05.

[5] KeyCite Notes

92B Consumer Credit
92BI In General
92Bk3 License and Regulation in General
92Bk4 k. Particular Businesses or Transactions. Most Cited Cases

Lessees who leased certain motor vehicle from creditor that had purchased vehicle from automobile dealership were "buyers," within context of statute requiring credit services organization to allow a buyer to rescind a transaction within three days after transaction was made, despite dealership's contention that lessees did not purchase any services from it, but merely purchased a motor vehicle; if lessees left before purchasing vehicle, services provided by dealership had no value, since it did not lead to an extension of credit to lessees, and once dealership secured credit for customers, those customers were not free to use that credit to purchase items besides dealership's merchandise. R.C. §§ 4712.01(A), 4712.05.
**113 *7 Ronald L. Burdge, Franklin , for plaintiffs.
Barron, Peck & Bennie and Michael S. Barron, Cincinnati; and Donald W. White, Batavia, for defendant.

ROBERT P. RINGLAND, Judge.
This matter came before the court on joint motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiffs Michelle Sannes and Andrew Strasinger and defendant Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, Inc.. Oral argument was presented after written memoranda were submitted, and the matter was taken under advisement.
*8 Plaintiffs filed this complaint against defendant, alleging that defendant violated the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act, R.C. 4712.01 et seq., and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. 1345.01 et seq. The gist of plaintiffs' complaint is that defendant advertised that it would help consumers rebuild their credit by assisting them in getting a car loan with one of Ohio 's leading lenders. Plaintiffs claim that defendant is therefore a "credit services organization," as that term is defined in R.C. 4712.01(C)., and is subject to restrictions under the Act.
Plaintiffs allege that on September 15, 1997, they entered into a consumer transaction with defendant, in that defendant agreed to sell to Banc One Acceptance Corporation ("Banc One"), and that Banc One simultaneously agreed to lease, a certain motor vehicle, being a 1997 Chevrolet truck, to plaintiffs. During the time in question, defendant and Banc One had an agreement whereby defendant was authorized to obtain applications and assist its **114 customers in completing lease agreements with Banc One in connection with financing of leases of vehicles sold by defendant. At the commencement of the lease agreement, plaintiffs paid $1,346.62 to defendant. Of the $1,346.62, plaintiffs paid $446.62 in cash (a check) and the remaining $900 via trade-in equity. [FN1] Before entering into this transaction, plaintiffs had read an advertisement from defendant in a local newspaper that claimed defendant could help re-establish credit. Plaintiffs attach several copies of advertisements from defendant, which state as follows: 
FN1. At the time of the transaction in question, the equity in plaintiffs' trade-in vehicle was approximated to be $900. The actual equity at the time defendant paid off the existing loan was $1,068.48. Defendant then refunded the $168.48 difference to the plaintiffs.

"HAVE YOU WRECKED YOUR CREDIT? You cannot be refused due to past credit history. WE UNDERSTAND YOUR CREDIT PROBLEMS! Putting your loan in the hands of amateurs may hurt your chance of loan approval. Re-establish your credit thru one of the largest banks in Ohio ! Call 1-888-292-EGGS For Credit Info." (Reference to footnote deleted.)
The plaintiffs decided after they returned home that evening that they wanted to rescind the transaction, but defendant refused to allow them to do so. Under R.C. 4712.05, a credit services organization must allow a buyer to rescind a transaction for three business days after the transaction is made.
Defendant has moved for summary judgment, arguing that it is not a credit services organization as that term is defined in R.C. 4712.01(C). Defendant further argues that plaintiffs are not "buyers" as that term is used in R.C. 4712.01(A). Plaintiffs also have moved for summary judgment, alleging that the terms "credit services organization" and "buyer" apply to defendant and plaintiffs, *9 respectively, and that defendant has presented no evidence that it is in compliance with the Credit Services Organization Act.
[1] [2] [3] Before summary judgment can be granted, a party must show that "(1) no genuine issue as to any material fact remains to be litigated, (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and (3) * * * reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and viewing the evidence most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion * * * is made." State ex rel. Spencer v. E. Liverpool Planning Comm. (1997), 80 Ohio St.3d 297, 298, 685 N.E.2d 1251, 1252. When a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the nonmoving party may not rest on mere denials in the pleading, but must respond with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Civ.R. 56(E); Dresher v. Burt (1996), 75 Ohio St.3d 280, 293, 662 N.E.2d 264, 274; St. Vincent Med. Ctr. v. Sader (1995), 100 Ohio App.3d 379, 383, 654 N.E.2d 144, 146. The motion "forces the nonmoving party to produce evidence on any issue for which that party bears the burden of production at trial." Wing v. Anchor Media, Ltd. of Texas (1991), 59 Ohio St.3d 108, 111, 570 N.E.2d 1095, 1099.
[4] To determine whether defendant meets the definition of "credit services organization," the statute must be analyzed. According to R.C. 4712.01(C)(1), a credit services organization is defined as "any person that charges or receives, directly from the buyer, money or other valuable consideration readily convertible into money, and that sells, provides, or performs, or represents that the person can or will sell, provide, or perform, any of the following services:
"(a) Improving a buyer's credit record, history, or rating;
"(b) Obtaining an extension of credit for a buyer;
**115 "(c) Providing advice or assistance to a buyer in connection with division (C)(1)(a) or (b) of this section;
"(d) Removing adverse credit information that is accurate and not obsolete from the buyer's credit record, history, or rating;
"(e) Altering the buyer's identification to prevent the display of the buyer's credit record, history, or rating." 146 Ohio Laws, Part II, 3628, 3649.
In the case at bar, it is undisputed that plaintiffs gave defendant approximately $1,346.62, of which $446.62 was cash and $900 was trade-in equity. Defendant argues that this consideration was in exchange for the Chevrolet truck, whereas plaintiffs argue that the consideration was in exchange for a package of goods and services, including the assistance in getting credit. The argument is moot. The statute merely requires that the defendant "receives, directly from the buyer, money," which defendant does not dispute that it did. Defendant must *10 also sell, provide, or perform, or represent that it will sell, provide, or perform the services listed in the statute. There is no requirement in the statute that the money received from the buyer be consideration for services provided by the credit services organization.
The question remains whether defendant sold, provided, or performed a service obtaining an extension of credit for the buyer, or represented such to the buyer. Again, defendant has not disputed that it assisted plaintiffs in obtaining an extension of credit from Banc One. Therefore, defendant is a "credit services organization" as that term is defined in R.C. 4712.01(C).
[5] Defendant further argues that it cannot be held liable under the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act because plaintiffs are not "buyers" as that term is defined in the Act. Under R.C. 4712.01(A), "buyer" is defined as "an individual who is solicited to purchase or who purchases the services of a credit services organization." Defendant argues that plaintiffs did not purchase any services from it, but merely purchased goods, namely, the Chevrolet truck.
"Purchase" is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as the "[t]ransmission of property from one person to another by voluntary act and agreement, founded on a valuable consideration." Black's Law Dictionary (6 Ed.1990) 1234. "Consideration" is defined as "a performance or a return promise [that is] bargained for." Restatement of the Law 2d, Contracts (1981), Section 71(1).
Defendant argues that the money given by plaintiffs was consideration for the truck only, and not consideration for any of the services provided by defendant. However, it is difficult to separate the goods received from the services. Nor does defendant's argument that the services were not paid for because plaintiffs could have left without buying a vehicle have merit. If plaintiffs left before purchasing a vehicle, the services provided by defendant had no value, since it did not lead to an extension of credit to plaintiffs. There has been no evidence that once defendant secured credit for customers, those customers were free to use that credit to purchase items besides defendant's merchandise.
Nor does the affidavit of Helen MacMurray, Assistant Ohio Attorney General, submitted by defendant, lead to a different result. MacMurray affirms that the Office of the Attorney General does not consider an automobile dealer a credit services organization under R.C. 4712.01. However, the opinion of the Attorney General's office is not binding on this court.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion for summary judgment must be denied. In addition, plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on the issue of whether defendant violated the Ohio Credit Services Organization Act. However, plaintiffs still have to prove damages to recover. Further, plaintiffs have not pled **116 sufficient facts to allow them summary judgment on the issue of the Ohio *11 Consumer Sales Practice Act. Thus, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.
Judgment accordingly.
Ohio Com.Pl.,1999.
Sannes v. Jeff Wyler Chevrolet, Inc.
107 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 736 N.E.2d 112


State v. Schlosser
Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1996 WL 280038
Ohio App. 2 Dist.,1996.
May 24, 1996 (Approx. 14 pages) 

Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1996 WL 280038 ( Ohio App. 2 Dist.)
Only the Westlaw citation is currently available.

CHECK OHIO SUPREME COURT RULES FOR REPORTING OF OPINIONS AND WEIGHT OF LEGAL AUTHORITY. 
Court of Appeals of Ohio , Second District, Montgomery County .
STATE of Ohio , Plaintiff-Appellee, 
v. 
Todd M. SCHLOSSER and John D. Schlosser, Defendants-Appellants. 
Nos. 14976 , 14968 . 
May 24, 1996. 
Mathias H. Heck, Jr., Pros. Attorney, George A. Katchmer,Asst. Pros. Attorney, 41 N. Perry Street--Suite 315, P.O.Box 972, Dayton, Ohio 45422, Atty. Reg. No. 0005031 Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
Steven Michael Cox, Suite 1311 Talbott Tower, 131 N. LudlowStreet, Dayton, Ohio 45402, Atty. Reg. No. 0012949 Attorney for Defendants-Appellants

GRADY, J.
*1 

Defendants John Schlosser, also known as Michael Schlosser, and his son, Defendant Todd Schlosser, appeal their convictions and sentences for multiple violations of the Ohio Credit Services Act, R.C.Chp. 4712, as well as engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, R.C. 2923.32(A)(1).
Defendants owned and operated a telemarketing firm they called United Shopping Network. Defendants purported to represent two catalogue sales companies that sold credit card packages, Family Consumer Union ("F.C.U.") and Universal American Credit Card Company ("U.A.C.C.C."). Telemarketing scripts provided by these companies encouraged customers to make purchases of merchandise from a catalogue, and to meet several other requirements, as many as nine in all, to allow the company to "sponsor" the customer for a VISA or MasterCard. These companies did not guarantee that the customer would be issued a VISA or MasterCard.
Defendants revised the telemarketing scripts, so that when their telemarketers solicited customers over the phone no mention was made about purchasing items from a catalogue or any other requirements in order to obtain a VISA or MasterCard. Rather, the customers were told that upon payment of a specified fee, $149.50 or $179.50, they would receive either a VISA or MasterCard within thirty days. Defendants frequently "guaranteed" that customers would receive the credit card of their choice, and customers were told that the credit card would be unsecured with a $5,000 line of credit. Defendants also told customers that they were a federally regulated business.
If a customer expressed a desire to have a VISA or MasterCard, the customer was required to give Defendants' telemarketers a bank account number and permission to remove from the account the applicable fee Defendants charged for the credit card application, $149 or $179. The customer would then speak with one of the "supervisors" in Defendants' operation, who would "verify" the information taken down by the telemarketer, including the customer's bank account numbers. This verification process was frequently performed by defendant Todd Schlosser, and those conversations were tape recorded.
Defendants passed the information they received from customers, including that customer's bank account numbers, to various check processing companies. The check processing company would then electronically debit the money from the customer's bank account. After deducting its processing fee, the check processing company would send part of the money to F.C.U. or U.A.C.C.C. to cover the cost of the package sold. The remainder of the money would be sent to bank accounts which were opened in the name of various employees of these defendants but which were controlled by Defendant John Schlosser.
Throughout this entire process these Defendants never registered with the consumer finance division of the Ohio Department of Commerce. Further, although their customers never received the promised VISA or MasterCard, the fee which Defendants charged for such credit card was deducted from the customer's bank account. None of the victims of the scam were able to obtain assistance by utilizing the customer service phone numbers provided by the Defendants.
*2 

This case involves eleven separate victims. With respect to each one of those victims, each defendant was convicted, following a jury trial, of three separate violations of Chapter 4712, Ohio Revised Code: (1) failure to register as a credit services organization in violation of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), (2) charging an advance fee for credit services in violation of R.C. 4712.07(A), and engaging in fraudulent acts in the sale of credit services in violation of R.C. 4712.07(L). In addition, Defendant John Schlosser was convicted of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity in violation of R.C. 2923.32(A)(1), the "RICO statute.
The trial court sentenced Todd Schlosser to one year imprisonment on each of his thirty-three counts. Eleven of those are consecutive and the remaining twenty-two concurrent, for a total aggregate sentence of eleven years. John Schlosser was sentenced to one year imprisonment on each of his thirty-three counts, plus seven to twenty-five years on the RICO count, all consecutive, for a total aggregate sentence of forty to fifty-eight years.
From their respective convictions and sentences John Schlosser and Todd Schlosser have appealed to this court, assigning numerous claims of error for our review. With two exceptions, the claims of error presented are identical for each Defendant. 
PRE-TRIAL ERRORS
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS, AS THE SEARCH WARRANTS WERE OVERBROAD AND VIOLATIVE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT OF PARTICULARITY.
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VIII, and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VI challenge the trial court's decision overruling their motion to suppress evidence seized by police during two warrant authorized searches of Defendants' business premises at 8153 Garnet Drive on February 16, 1994, and March 22, 1994. Defendants argue that the search warrants were facially overbroad and did not describe with sufficient particularity the items to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no warrants shall issue except those "... particularly describing ... the things to be seized." See also Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 14. One of the essential purposes of the particularity requirement is to prevent general exploratory searches. LaFave, Search and Seizure (Third Edition), Section 4.6(a). The objective of the particularity requirement is to limit the discretion of the officers who perform the search. The specificity required usually varies, depending upon the particular nature of the crime investigated and the nature of the evidence sought. Where the items to be seized are evidence or instrumentalities of a crime, the key inquiry is whether the warrant could have reasonably described the items more precisely than it did. State v. Benner (1988), 40 Ohio St.3d 301.
There are certain inherent dangers in executing search warrants that authorize seizure of a person's papers or business records that are not necessarily present in warrants that authorize seizure of physical objects. In the case of physical objects, because their relevance to the crime under investigation is more readily ascertainable the potential for serious, unwarranted intrusions into personal privacy is diminished. Andresen v. Maryland (1976), 427 U.S. 463. Accordingly, judicial officers must exercise caution where the description of records to be seized is so sweeping as to authorize a general exploratory search, for example, "all records" of a business. Nevertheless, where there exists probable cause to believe that a pervasive scheme to defraud permeates the entire operation of a business, all of the business records of that enterprise may be seized, and a simple description of the records of that business will suffice. See LaFave, Search and Seizure (Third Edition), Section 4.6(d) at fn. 95 (and cases cited therein).
*3 The affidavit and attached exhibits submitted in support of the search warrant in this case demonstrates probable cause to believe that the entire operation of Defendants' telemarketing business was an elaborate scheme designed to defraud customers. That scheme encompassed various federal and state criminal offenses, including various types of fraud, forgery, passing bad checks, theft, and multiple violations of Ohio 's credit services act, Chapter 4712, Ohio Revised Code. These offenses were committed via telephone solicitation and electronic funds transfers. In relation to those criminal offenses, the search warrant described the items to be seized as follows: 
All personal property on premises described in III. b. including, but not limited to the following: 
1. All corporate, partnership or proprietorship records; 
2. All customer files and records; 
3. All employee or independent contractor records; 
4. All bank or other financial institution records; 
5. All telephone records and equipment; 
6. All training manuals, instructions, policy statements, and phone scripts; 
7. All computer equipment; 
8. All records regarding other business entities or individuals with whom business transactions occurred; 
9. All electric or electronic equipment; 
10. All office furniture and equipment; and 
11. All records regarding advertising, promotional, sales or soliciting activities.
The warrant is broad in the sense that it authorized police to seize "all records" relating to the operation of Defendants' telemarketing business. However, because that entire business operation appeared to be an elaborate scheme designed to defraud, we conclude that all business related books, records, and equipment constituted evidence and instrumentalities of that fraud which police could properly seize. United States v. Offices Known as 50 State Distributing Co. (9th Cir.1983), 708 F.2d 1371. Moreover, given the particular nature of the crimes under investigation and the manner in which they were alleged to be committed, the items to be seized were clearly related to Defendants' suspected criminal behavior. Those items were described with as much specificity as was reasonable, given that law enforcement investigators had not yet examined the documents or "pieced together" the many transactions which reveal the fraudulent scheme.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error VIII and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error VI are overruled. 
TRIAL ERRORS
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A MISTRIAL, AS THE INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, WHILE TESTIFYING FOR THE PROSECUTION, IRRETRIEVABLY PREJUDICED APPELLANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.
Defendants John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error V, and Todd Schlosser at Assignment of Error IV argue that the trial court erred in failing to grant their request for a mistrial based upon misconduct by the chief investigator for the prosecutor's office, Don Otto, who testified on behalf of the State. Specifically, Defendants complain that Don Otto repeatedly volunteered highly prejudicial information not responsive to the questions he was asked.
*4 Generally, the conduct of the prosecutor at trial cannot be grounds for error unless that conduct deprived defendant of a fair trial. State v. Apanovitch (1987), 33 Ohio St.3d 19. Moreover, the decision whether to grant a mistrial is a matter resting within the sound discretion of the trial court. That decision will not be reversed on appeal absent a showing that the trial court abused its discretion. State v. Reynolds (1988), 49 Ohio App.3d 27. An abuse of discretion connotes more than a mere error of law or an error in judgment. It implies an arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable attitude on the part of the court. State v. Adams (1980), 62 Ohio St.2d 151.
Defendants cite several instances of alleged misconduct by Don Otto. For example, on direct examination: 
Q. Did you have an occasion to investigate activities down at 8153 Garnet Drive in the recent past? 
A. Yes, I did. 
Q. Could you tell us approximately when that came to your attention? 
A. Starting around September of 1993, I started receiving telephone calls from individuals wanting to report a possible telemarketing scam at that location on Garnet Road . 
(T. 160).
Defendants failed to object to the above testimony by Otto. Their failure to object constitutes a waiver of any error, unless that error rises to the level of "plain error" under Crim.R. 52(B). State v. Wickline (1990), 50 Ohio St.3d 114. We cannot say that but for the above statement by Don Otto that these Defendants would have been acquitted. We see no plain error. State v. Long (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 91.
Another instance where Defendants allege misconduct: 
Q. The people that you were getting calls from, who were they? 
A. I was getting calls from both employees who were working at 8153 Garnet Drive and also from victims throughout the United States who were wanting to file a criminal complaint about being scammed. 
MR. ARNTZ: Your Honor, I'll object. It's not responsive to the question. It also relies on hearsay. 
MR. SKINNER: Simply being offered to explain why the witness did what he did. 
THE COURT: Read the question, Mary, please. 
(The pending question was read.) 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection. 
A. BY THE WITNESS: They were from people--victims residing all over the United States who had been telemarketed by this company and who were wanting to file complaints thinking that they had been scammed. 
(T. 160-161).
We cannot agree with Defendants' assertion that Otto's answers to the questions were not responsive, particularly when viewed in the context of the previous questions. The prosecutor questioned Otto about how his investigation began and, more specifically, who called Otto by phone. Otto's reply was responsive to the question asked and did not deprive these Defendants of a fair trial. Further, we agree with the trial court that Otto's testimony was offered to explain the subsequent investigative actions which this witness took, not for the truth of the matter asserted therein. Therefore, it was not hearsay. Evid.R. 801(C); State v. Thomas (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 223.
*5 Another instance where Defendants also allege misconduct by this witness in the following colloquy: 
Q. BY MR. SKINNER: Did you have contact from any people who had worked there? 
A. Yes, I did. 
MR. ARNTZ: Your Honor, again, I'll object because the form of the question asks for responses if that's the truth of the matter. And hearsay is just the opposite. He doesn't know whether those persons worked there unless he knows of his own personal knowledge. Again, he's relying on hearsay in his response. 
THE COURT: He is not repeating what somebody else said outside the courtroom for the truth of the content. So it's not hearsay. Court would overrule the objection. 
(T. 161-162).
As the trial court correctly observed, absent an out of court statement by someone offered for the truth of the matter asserted therein, there is no hearsay. Evid.R. 801(C).
Another instance of alleged misconduct during direct examination of this witness is the following: 
Q. Basically, what information did you receive from the people who called you to report whatever contact they had had? 
MR. ARNTZ: Objection, form of the question. And, again, it asks for hearsay. 
MR. SKINNER: I believe it's 801-C, your Honor. 
THE COURT: I think you're right. 
Court would overrule the objection. No statements have been offered. 
MR. SKINNER: Thank you. 
(T. 165).
The prosecutor asked the witness to relate what information he possessed as a result of talking with people who had called him, not to relate the contents of any out of court statements made to him by people who had called him. In other words, the question did not ask the witness to repeat what someone else had said to him, and did not call for hearsay.
When the witness attempted to answer the above question, the following occurred: 
A. I learned from those individuals who contacted me that the common denominator was each one-- 
MR. ARNTZ: I would renew the objection because I believe now he's offering a statement by someone out of court for its truth. 
THE COURT: He is not quoting anybody that is being offered for the truth of the quotation. 
I suspect about the time we're all in the first grade the teacher tried to teach us two and two was four. We all know that. 
But when we say two and two is four we are not reciting hearsay. We're stating it from our own knowledge. 
That's what we're doing here. We learn things from other people, like, what time. The clock is telling us something. It's not hearsay. 
(T. 166).
The witness' answer was not hearsay because he related knowledge or information he had acquired, not an out of court statement made to him by someone else.
As a final instance of alleged misconduct during direct examination of this witness, Defendants point to the following: 
Q. All right. During your contacts with the people who reported as having been employed there, did you learn anything from them that enabled you to do anything further? 
*6 A. Lisa Sword provided me with a telephone script that was used--that she used and was used by the telemarketers at 8153 Garnet Drive to contact particular customers. 
Through that telephone script, I learned information on Family Consumers Union that enabled me to investigate that particular company with the assistance of the FBI and the attorney generals' office and the BBBs in Virginia Beach , Virginia . 
And I learned of an investigation into that company, subpoenas that had been issued that had not been responded to and ... 
MR. ARNTZ: Your Honor, simply for the record, can I have a continuing objection to that kind of response which I believe is hearsay? 
THE COURT: I think I would encourage you to make specific objections. The Court would overrule the objection if that was one. 
(T.168-169).
The prosecutor asked the witness to relate what information he had acquired and which he then used as a basis for further investigation. The witness was not asked to relate, and did not relate, statements made to him by other people. The witness' answer was not hearsay.
Defendants allege that the improper conduct by this prosecution witness became more egregious during his cross-examination. For example: 
Q. Who worked longer in these offices, Bill or Ann? 
A. In these specific offices, Bill--initially, he was a roommate of Todd's. And he was hired, I believe, around 1991. 
Ann, I believe, was hired in to work at Adamas Mortgage, which was a satellite office. 
Again, you're going way back into old cases that I don't know whether-- 
Q. We're going back at least five years when Ann began working with these folks. 
A. I conducted a search warrant with the FBI and IRS here in 1990 involving their investigation. 
Q. That would be four years ago? 
A. And she was not there. She was not in that main office with them. She was a secretary for a company called Adamas Mortgage which is what the utilities were listed through. 
Q. Well, let me see if we can get together here. 
A. I would say-- 
Q. During what number of years did Ann Gould work with-- 
A. Around '90. 
Q. About four years? 
A. Yeah--yes. 
Q. Much longer than Bill Nicoll worked with these people? 
A. Not much longer. But to an extent. 
Q. To an extent. Okay. 
(T. 292-293). 
Q. Okay. Let's go to Exhibit 15 there beside you. 
A. Okay. 
Q. This is the diagram, of course, of the two floors of the building we've been talking about; is that right? 
A. Yes. 
MR. ARNTZ: Now, as I understand it, this is an enlargement or a blowup of a sketch that you made of the floor plan in that building. 
A. Yes. 
Q. And up here we have the lower floor, and at the bottom we have the upper floor. 
A. That is right. 
Q. Okay. And how may times have you been in the place? 
A. I arrested and prosecuted a previous telemarketing operation there, was in there several times during that investigation with the suspect who--sold the building to Mr. Schlosser. 
*7 Q. Do you know what number of times you were in that building? 
A. I've been in that building several times. I was in that building to serve subpoenas for requests of records prior to the search warrant ever taking place. 

I've been in that building countless times for both Mike Schlosser, Todd Schlosser, Mike Smith. 
Q. So you know that building pretty well. 
A. Yes. 
(T. 295-296). 
Q. Also, we saw depicted on the video--you described a number of rooms where things were sort of scattered around and a mess. Do you remember that? 
A. Yeah, I sure do. 
Q. All right. Now one of those rooms was the one you marked travel and vacation; is that right? 
A. Yes. 
Q. So, if I put "mess" under there, that would be an accurate description of the condition of that room? 
A. That's right. 
Q. Where were the other rooms where things are littered on the floor and laying around? 
A. Upstairs. The other end of the building, south end of the building. Rooms 204 and 205. There was everything scattered on the floor from pornography to--to-- 
Q. Just about everything? 
A. You name it. If it was involved in the telemarketing business, it was there. 
(T. 299-300).
In each of the above instances, Defendants waived any error in the admission of the testimony by failing to move to strike the objectionable parts of it. Wickine, supra. Furthermore, in view of the substantial evidence presented by the State in this case, we see no "plain error" in this witness' answers to the above questions, some of which were broad and open ended.
Later, during a recess in the cross-examination of this witness, although Defendants had not posited any objections to this witness' answers to their questions, the following took place: 
MR. ARNTZ: Your Honor, we have a matter to put on the record before the jury comes back. 
We want to bring to the Court's attention that during my cross-examination of this witness earlier today the witness would respond with a lot of information which was not, first of all, pertinent to my question, and, second of all, pertinent to the indictment. 
One prime example being when I asked whether one of the rooms in the office was a mess and the witness not only agreed that it was a mess but went on to describe pornography, as he called it, that was in the office. 
Furthermore, at various points this witness would make reference to other and earlier investigations of these defendants that have nothing to do with the time frame or the subject matter for which they have been indicted. 
So, when he makes reference to, for instance, travel packages and the years 1989 and 1990, those matters are separate and apart from the investigation which has to do with the indictment for which they're being tried today. 
And we think the repeated references by this witness to extraneous matters and other alleged offenses that are not charged are prejudicial and would at some point call for a mistrial in the case. 
*8 So we would like the Court to caution the witness to confine his answers to the question asked and also to the subject matter of this indictment. And I'll do my best to ask as narrow a question as I can. 
THE COURT: Well, one of the problems: Have you ever been in the building before? Yes, several times on investigations. 
And so--that--your narrowing the question may help. 
If you would, please, good witness. 
THE WITNESS: I'll do my best. 
THE COURT: Don't cause us a mistrial --- 
THE WITNESS: I'll do my best. 
THE COURT:--or do something that might cause counsel to move for a mistrial. 
MR. GUNNOE: For the record, Mike Schlosser will be joining in the motion that was made by Mr. Arntz. 
(T. 306-308).
Subsequently, during further cross-examination of this witness, this exchange took place: 
Q. Now, last week you spoke to a Dick Thompson, didn't you? 
A. Yes. 
Q. And did you speak to Dick at his home or his office? 
A. At his office. 
Q. And that would be at 2224 Woodman Drive ? 
A. That's correct, yes. 
Q. And that would be an Allstate Insurance Company office. 
A. That's correct. 
Q. And you went and spoke to Dick Thompson last week because he was one of the persons who was listed as a possible witness for the defendants in this trial. 
A. That's correct. 
Q. And you found in talking to Dick that he had been social friends with Todd and his father back many years; isn't that true? 
A. Yes. 
Q. And do you remember what kinds of things you told Dick about Todd and his dad when you talked to him last week? 
A. I remember very specifically one thing that concerned me greatly. I went in there--which is standard on a defense witness list, I was requested by the prosecutor to talk to him, find out what information he had. 
When I went in to do that, he immediately said, "You've got some kids that go to school" and said where they went to school. I was immediately alarmed because an associate of Mr. Schlosser at gunpoint told me my children had been threatened in this case. Yes, I was very concerned, really. 
Q. I think my question was: Do you remember what you told him about Todd and his father? Wasn't that the question I asked you? 
A. I asked him very specifically why my children--why the topic of my children came up, why he had been discussing my children with Mike Schlosser. 
Q. Well, let me refresh your recollection. Did you in fact tell Mr. Thompson that Todd and his father were bad people and that you were going to do whatever you had to do to get them? 
A. Absolutely not. 
Q. Nothing even close to that; is that right? 
A. No. I could explain exactly what took place. 
Q. My question is: Did you tell him anything close to that? 
A. No. He asked me for a response about them, if I could explain. I explained exactly what he asked me, and I responded to his question. 
Q. Well, you know that repeating what he said to you would be hearsay. 
*9 A. Well, I could tell you what-- 
Q. I'm asking you whether you told him in substance or paraphrasing that you were going to do whatever you could to get Todd and his dad. 
A. I did not say that. Absolutely not. 
Q. Okay. Thank you. 
MR. ARNTZ: May we approach a moment. 
(T. 344-347).
Based upon the above testimony by Don Otto, Defendants moved for a mistrial: 
MR. ARNTZ: We will move for a mistrial at this time for the reason that the witness was asked to--specifically what he told Mr. Thompson. 
And in response the witness went off on a tangent quoting Mr. Thompson about threats to children and furthermore went on to allege that some associates of our clients had made further threats at another time. 
That answer was in no way responsive to the specific question asked of the witness, and it is a repetition of this behavior of answering the question in such a way that it contains prejudicial and irrelevant information. We think there's no way to cure that at this point. 
MR. LIPTOCK: We concur in the motion. 
MR. ARNTZ: The record ought to reflect the court has previously cautioned the witness not to do that sort of thing. 
(T. 347).
The trial court overruled Defendants' mistrial request and cautioned the jury as follows: 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection for mistrial, and I will instruct the jury to disregard the last few answers involving questions about children. 
(Sidebar concluded.) 
THE COURT: The Court would instruct the jury to disregard the last few statements by the witness that involved statements about children and treat them as though you had never heard them. 
(T. 348).
This witness' response to the question, "what did you tell Dick Thompson about these defendants," was unresponsive and inflammatory in nature. Nevertheless, the focus of our review must be the overall fairness of the trial, and not the culpability of the prosecutor. In light of the other evidence presented and the trial court's curative instruction to the jury to disregard the improper portion of the answer, which we must presume the jurors followed, we cannot say that the witness' conduct deprived these Defendants of a fair trial. State v. Ferguson (1983), 5 Ohio St.3d 160. Accordingly, we cannot conclude that the trial court abused its discretion, in other words that it exhibited an arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable attitude in denying Defendants' request for a mistrial. State v. Adams , supra.
Immediately after the trial court instructed the jury to disregard Don Otto's statements about perceived threats to his children, the prosecutor asked Otto on redirect to repeat the entire conversation he had with Dick Thompson. Defendants objected, claiming that the question called for hearsay and, in any event, was not relevant. The trial court overruled Defendants' objection, noting that the evidence was not offered for the truth of the matter concerned and therefore was not hearsay. Don Otto then related to the jury his conversation with Dick Thompson, including this: 
*10 

A. I went to see Mr. Thompson because he was listed on a defense witness list on this case. 
When I went in, I introduced myself to him. He says, "Oh, yeah, I know you," and acted--knew things about me. He knew the area I was from and told me, again, about my children. 
And, obviously--he had, through a family acquaintance, apparently--my children, as I came to question him further about that because--I won't get into things in this hearing, but I was very concerned about that. 
(T. 350).
At the conclusion of Don Otto's testimony, Defendants renewed their motion for a mistrial because this witness had once again referred to what he perceived as threats to his children. The trial court once again overruled the mistrial request, this time with no additional cautionary instructions to the jury. (T. 363-364).
The State argues that Defendants "opened the door" to testimony by this witness about his conversation with Dick Thompson when they questioned him about that conversation on cross-examination. While we agree that the questions may have opened the door to further inquiry into that area, we nevertheless note that even relevant evidence must be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. Evid.R. 403(A).
Having instructed the jury to disregard Otto's statements about what he perceived to be threats against his children by Dick Thompson, the trial court should not have permitted any further reference to that particular aspect of Otto's conversation with Thompson. However, when viewed in the context of the totality of the evidence as well as the trial court's earlier cautionary instructions to the jurors, we cannot say that the statements of this witness concerning threats to his children was so prejudicial as to deny these Defendants a fair trial. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's request for a mistrial.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error V and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error IV are overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING REPEATEDLY APPELLANT'S OBJECTIONS TO IRRELEVANT AND IMPROPERLY PREJUDICIAL MATTER PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION.
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VI and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error V, complain of several instances in which the trial court overruled their objections to certain evidence.
A trial court has broad discretion in the admission or exclusion of evidence and its decision in that regard will not be disturbed on appeal unless the court has clearly abused its discretion and the defendant has been materially prejudiced thereby. State v. Lowe (1994), 69 Ohio St.3d 527. An abuse of discretion is more than a mere error of law or an error in judgment. It implies an arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable attitude on the part of the trial court. State v. Adams , supra.
Lisa Sword, one of Defendants' former telemarketing employees, testified on behalf of the State. During her testimony the following took place: 
*11 Q. Okay. Now, you previously testified that you left FCU in less than a week. Would you tell us why you left FCU? 
A. Because I just suspected something wasn't right from the beginning. I couldn't get a W-2 filled out. They wouldn't give me anything like that. I never filled out an application. And when I asked about those things I was put off. You know, I never could get an answer. 
And I went home from work, probably on about the third day, and saw them on TV on the news busting the same thing in Columbus . 
MR. LIPSTOCK: Objection. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: Your Honor, goes to the reason why she did what she did. I think it's relevant. 
MR. ARNTZ: I join in the objection. It would be inappropriate for her to discuss something she saw. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: Your Honor, again, I would state-- 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection. 
Q. BY MR. LIPOWICZ: You may go ahead and continue. 
A. I was watching the news, and I saw them raid a similar scam. It showed the same exact script. It told about the catalog and the Visas. And so then, you know, I was pretty sure that I was involved in the same thing. 
So I quit. I called Ann the next morning and quit. 
(T. 102-104).
This testimony by Lisa Sword was not offered to prove the substance of its contents, that a similar telemarketing scheme was in fact operating in Columbus , or that the police there raided it, or even that the witness in fact saw a television news report about it. Rather, this evidence was offered for its effect on the listener, to explain why the witness quit her telemarketing job with these Defendants after just one week. Such evidence is not hearsay. Evid.R. 801(C); Weissenberger, Ohio Evidence, Section 801.7 We see no error, much less an abuse of discretion, in the admission of this evidence.
Defendants also complain about the testimony of another of Defendants' former employees, Scott Stalnaker. Stalnaker testified about why he quit working for the Defendants, including his concerns that he might be involved in some type of telemarketing fraud, the reasons behind those concerns, and what actions he took because of them. During that testimony, this exchange took place: 
Q. Okay. Now, when you talked--after you talked to Mr. Otto, did you quit the company? 
A. I called in sick that night, and I quit the next day. 
Q. All right. Did you take any steps with regard to this job after you quit the company? 
A. Yes. I showed up the day I quit with two friends of mine and two Montgomery County sheriff's officers. 
Q. Why did you bring the sheriff's deputies with you? 
MR. ARNTZ: I'll object to this again. It's not relevant to the charge in the indictment against my client. It's outside the scope, and it's prejudicial. It's not relevant. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: Your Honor, this is--goes to what he did in terms of subsequent action with regard to his--his involvement with this business. 
THE COURT: Would counsel involved in this one please approach the bench. 
*12 (Discussion off the record among the Court, Mr. Arntz, and Mr. Lipowicz.) 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection. 
Q. BY MR. LIPOWICZ: Mr. Stalnaker, why did you go over to the business that day? 
A. To get as much of my--the money that he owed me as possible. 
Q. And when you say "he," who are you referring to? 
A. Mike Schlosser. 
MR. LIPSTOCK: Objection, your Honor. 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection. 
Q. BY MR. LIPOWICZ: And did Mike Schlosser give you any money that day? 
A. He gave me part of it. He said the rest would be mailed. But I never received the rest of my payroll. 
Q. And did he give you cash or some other medium? 
A. Cash. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: I have no further questions. 
(T. 140-141).
Prior to giving this testimony, Stalnaker had testified, without objection, about problems he encountered in being paid by these Defendants in a timely fashion, and the fact that one of his paychecks he received had bounced. Such testimony was clearly relevant to explain the reasons for his concerns about the legitimacy of Defendants' telemarketing operation. Even assuming, however, that Stalnaker's specific testimony about taking two deputy sheriffs with him in order to get his paycheck after he quit was not relevant to the specific charges in this case, in the context of this record as a whole such testimony was not so prejudicial as to deny these Defendants a fair trial. In other words, even if the admission of this particular testimony was error, it does not rise to the level of an abuse of discretion.
Defendants next complain about the following testimony of one of the victims, Marjorie Pack: 
Q. BY MR. LIPOWICZ: Let me just ask you, ma'am: When you talked to the second man on the phone, did you tell him it was okay to take money out of your checking account? 
A. Yes, I did. 
Q. Okay. Now, Ms. Pack, after you did that, did you start to have second thoughts about it? 
A. Yes, I did. In fact, I went to my bank and withdraw almost all of the money out of my checking account and put in into my savings so that he couldn't get my money. 
Q. So, in other words, you pulled money out of your checking account so it wouldn't cover the hundred and 49.50? 
A. Yes, I did. 
Q. Okay. Now, just so you can explain to us why you did this, tell us--you know, what made you do this. 
A. Because I heard on the news where a man was talking about-- 
MR. LIPSTOCK: Objection, your Honor. We have hearsay again. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: Your Honor, this is not hearsay. It's being offered, again, to show or explain why she did what she did and not for the truth of what she heard. 
THE COURT: Court would overrule the objection. 
MR. ARNTZ: Your Honor, may the record reflect the same objection to the accuracy of anything in the media. 
THE COURT: The Court would overrule the objection. 
You may answer the question. 
A. BY THE WITNESS: I was listening to the news. And they were interviewing a man that had said something about someone calling him. And what caught my attention was when he said that he had a $5,000 credit limit. 
*13 So I went in and sat down and listened to him. And what he was saying was the same thing that had been said to me. So I realized that something was wrong somewhere. 
So that's when I went down and took the money out of my checking account and put it into my savings so they would not get my money. 
(T. 693-695).
The testimony was not offered for its truth, to prove that the witness saw a television news report about a man who had been solicited for a credit card in the same way she was. The testimony was offered for its effect on the witness, to explain why she took the actions she did in withdrawing all of her money from her checking account. The relevance of that fact to the charges to be determined may be slight, but as evidence it does not constitute hearsay.
Lawrence McNew, a fraud analyst for D.P. & L., testified at trial on behalf of the State. McNew identified various business records which indicate that the utility service at 8153 Garnet Drive was in the name of "Adamas Mortgage, attention Michael Schlosser, president". During McNew's testimony about those business records and the payment history for utility service at that address, this exchange took place: 
Q. Okay. How about the next remark? 
A. Remark number three. Indicated that on January 21st a collection letter was rendered to the address 8153 Garnet Drive with a due date to avoid disconnect of January 26th. 
MR. ARNTZ: Excuse me, your Honor, I would object to any further testimony along this line for a couple reasons. 
First, I don't see that it has any relevance to the charges against my client or indeed to the charges against the codefendant. I don't know why this is relevant to anything at all. It's interesting, but it's not relevant. 
(T. 712-713).
The State replied that the testimony by McNew about the payment history for the utility service at 8153 Garnet Drive was relevant to establish in whose name that service was listed, and that it was also relevant to the charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity because it demonstrated that John Schlosser conducted or participated in the affairs of an enterprise at that location. The trial court agreed with the State's position and overruled Defendants' objection. McNew testified further: 
Q. BY MR. LIPOWICZ: Now, Mr. McNew, if you would turn to the next page. 
And could you tell us what that is. 
A. It's a continuation of the remarks screen. The last remark noted January 6th of '94, indicating that the bill that was due January 6th of '94, which was mailed to 8153 Garnet Drive , was received back to DP & L in our returned mail marked "moved and left no forwarding address." 
Q. All right. Thank you, Mr. McNew. 
(T. 716).
We agree with the trial court that McNew's testimony was relevant. R.C. 2923.32(A)(1); R.C. 2323.31(C), Evid.R. 401. Defendants only objected on relevancy grounds, and did not ask the trial court to exclude this evidence under Evid.R. 403(A), because even though it was relevant its probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The error, if any, in admitting this evidence does not rise to the level of an abuse of discretion.
*14 Roger Engle, a security manager for Ameritech, testified at trial on behalf of the State that the phone service at 8153 Garnet Drive was in the name of Mike (John) Schlosser, doing business as Market Concepts. Engle also testified, without objection from Defendants, about business records which reflect the payment history on that account and the existence of delinquent bills and late payments. After the State had completed its direct examination of Roger Engle, the following transpired: 
MR. ARNTZ: I would move to strike this gentleman's entire testimony. I don't think any part of it was relative to the charges against my client. Furthermore, it included a lot of prejudicial information about unpaid bills and that sort of thing. 
MR. LIPOWICZ: Well, your Honor-- 
THE COURT: I didn't hear any objection while it was going on. The Court would overrule the motion to strike. It shows we have--using telephones that are unlisted, no one can get back to. Has a tendency to show that. Let the jury decide what it shows. 
(T. 803-804).
As the trial court correctly observed, Defendants failed to make a timely objection to Engle's testimony. Moreover, that testimony was relevant to prove Defendant John Schlosser's connection with activities that occurred at 8153 Garnet Drive , which included participation in the affairs of an enterprise for purposes of the R.I.C.O. charge. Even assuming, however, that the specific portion of Engle's testimony about delinquent phone bills was subject to an Evid.R. 403(A) objection because its probative value was substantially outweighed by unfair prejudicial effect, in view of this record as a whole we cannot say that the admission of this evidence transcends an error of law and rises to the level of an abuse of discretion.
At the commencement of the testimony by Ann Gould, a former employee of Defendants who had worked in the offices at 8153 Garnet Drive, Defendants attempted, unsuccessfully, to preclude the witness from testifying about portions of her cooperation agreement with the prosecutor's office: 
MR. ARNTZ: We would make a motion in limine at this time that the witness not be permitted to testify as to paragraph E-4 of her agreement to cooperate. That paragraph discusses her willingness to take and pass a polygraph examination. We believe any reference to a polygraph whatsoever would be wrongful and prejudicial. 
MR. SKINNER: Just part of the agreement, you know. 
THE COURT: Evidence of the results of polygraph examinations are not admissible. 
MR. SKINNER: No, there isn't going to be any evidence about that. 
THE COURT: That's not what this is about. 
MR. SKINNER: No. 
THE COURT: She just agreed to take it, whatever the results you got. 
Court would overrule the motion. It's part of the contract. 
Q. BY MR. SKINNER: Are you familiar with that document, Miss Gould? 
A. Yes, I am. 
Q. Okay. And is that a document that signed by you? 
*15 A. Yes, sir. 
Q. It has your signature on it? 
A. Yes, it does. 
Q. Any other signatures? 
A. My attorney, Dennis Gump; Don Otto; and Robert Skinner. 
Q. And is that an agreement in which you entered agreeing to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution? 
A. Yes, it is. 
(T. 877-878).
Subsequently, the trial court admitted Gould's cooperation agreement, refusing to delete the paragraph referencing Gould's willingness to take a polygraph examination. (T. 1025).
Ann Gould's cooperation agreement with the State, and a similar agreement with another former employee of these Defendants, William Nicolls, had been previously been identified at trial by prosecution witness Don Otto, without any objection from Defendants. Ann Gould did not testify that she took a polygraph test or that she had agreed to take a polygraph test, much less what results were obtained. Inasmuch as no results of any polygraph test were admitted during trial or even proffered, the standards set forth by the Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Souel (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 123, for the admission of such evidence were not applicable in this situation. We see no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in admitting evidence which reflected a witness' mere willingness to take such an examination.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error VI and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error V are overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S OBJECTIONS TO THE JURY INSTRUCTIONS IMPOSING STRICT LIABILITY.
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error XI and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error IX argue that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that because all of the charged offenses, with the exception of engaging in fraudulent acts in the sale of credit services in violation of R.C. 4712.07(L), impose strict liability, no culpable mental state was required for commission of them.
Defendants were charged with the following offenses: 
No person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise shall conduct or participate in, directly or indirectly, the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of corrupt activity or the collection of an unlawful debt. 
Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, R.C. 2923.32(A)(1). 
* * *
No credit services organization shall fail to comply with division (A) of this section.
Failure to register as a credit services organization, R.C. 4712.02(J)(1). 
* * *
No credit services organization, salesperson, agent, or representative of a credit services organization, or independent contractor that sells or attempts to sell the services of a credit services organization shall do any of the following: 
Charge or receive directly or indirectly from a buyer money or other consideration readily convertible into money until all services the organization has agreed to perform for the buyer are completed within the time periods described in division (A)(3) of section 4712.05 of the Revised Code. 
*16 Charging an advanced fee for credit services, R.C. 4712.07(A). 
* * *
R.C. 2901.21(B) provides: 
When the section defining an offense does not specify any degree of culpability, and plainly indicates a purpose to impose strict criminal liability for the conduct described in such section, then culpability is not required for a person to be guilty of the offense. When the section neither specifies culpability nor plainly indicates a purpose to impose strict liability, recklessness is sufficient culpability to commit the offense.
Prior to the court's charge to the jury, defendants argued that because those offenses neither specify any degree of culpability nor plainly indicate a purpose to impose strict liability, the trial court should instruct the jury on "recklessness" as the applicable culpable mental state. R.C. 2901.21(B). The trial court instructed the jury, however, over Defendant's objection, that those offenses impose strict liability and thus no culpable mental state was required for their commission. (T. 1112).
This court has held that the "pattern of corrupt activity" element in R.C. 2923.32(A)(1) has a mens rea component, which is recklessness. State v. Burkett (1993), 89 Ohio App.3d 214; State v. Hughes (March 13, 1992), Miami App. No. 90-CA-54, unreported. Therefore, we find that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury that R.C. 2923.32(A)(1) is a strict liability offense and that it could find Defendant John Schlosser guilty on the count charged absent a finding that he acted with any culpable mental state. His conviction for that offense will be reversed.
We find that our judgment is in conflict with that of several other courts of appeals, which have held that R.C. 2923.32(A)(1) is a strict liability offense for which no proof of a culpable mental state is required. State v. Haddix (1994), 93 Ohio App.3d 470. State v. Rick (1995), 103 Ohio App.3d 388. We would, therefore, entertain a motion to certify the conflict to the Supreme Court of Ohio for its resolution.
With respect to the offenses of failing to register as a credit services organization, R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), and charging an advance fee for credit services, R.C. 4712.07(A), those offenses constitute violations of Ohio's credit services act, which consists primarily of regulations designed to protect consumers in their business dealings with those who sell credit services. Licensing and regulatory provisions such as these which invoke the State's police power and protect the public health, safety, and well-being, typically involve acts which are mala prohibita, and are enforced irrespective of guilty intent. Middletown v. Campbell (1990), 69 Ohio App.3d 411; Morissette v. United States (1952), 342 U.S. 246. In State v. Buehler Food Markets (1989), 50 Ohio App.3d 29, the court observed: 
The more serious the consequences are to the public, the more likely the legislature meant to impose liability without fault. For example, the offenses created primarily for the purpose of singling out individual wrongdoers for punishment and correction are the ones commonly requiring mens rea. Police offenses, merely regulatory in nature, are frequently enforced irrespective of any guilty intent. Sayre, Public Welfare Offenses (1933), 33 Colum.L.Rev. 55, 72. Regulations passed for the safety, health, or well-being of the community, such as those preventing the giving of short weight in the sale of ice or meat, are included in this category. Id, at 73, 87; see, also Morisette v. United States (1952), 342 U.S. 246, 262, fn. 20, 72 S.Ct. 240, 249, fn 20, 96 L.Ed. 288. 
*17 Id. at 30. 
When a statute is designed for the protection and general welfare of the public, it must be considered in light of its overall purpose, the business to which it relates, and the potential evil which it is designed to prevent. Fogt v. Ohio State Racing Comm. (1965), 3 Ohio App.2d 423, 32 O.O.2d 546, 210 N.E.2d 730. Therefore, where it would be almost impossible to prove guilty knowledge in cases of this kind and where requiring such evidence would eventually leave the public interest and welfare to the mercy of the unscrupulous, it is appropriate to apply strict liability. Holding otherwise would impede the statute's purpose. 
Id. at 31.
We conclude that R.C. 4712.02(J)(1) and R.C. 4712.07(A) fall into that category of public welfare offenses the purpose of which is to protect and promote the general welfare of the community, irrespective of the mental state of the Defendant. Strict liability is appropriate to effect the purpose of those statutes. The failure to specify any culpable mental state in these mala prohibita offenses, along with use of the format "no person shall ...," absent any reference to culpability, is clearly indicative of a legislative intent to impose strict liability. We see no error in the trial court's jury instructions imposing strict liability for these offenses.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error XI and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error IX are sustained with respect to their convictions for a violation of R.C. 2923.32(A)(1). They are otherwise overruled. 
POST TRIAL ERRORS
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN SENTENCING APPELLANT IN VIOLATION OF R.C 2929.41(E)(2)
Defendant John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VIII, argues that his aggregate minimum sentence of forty years violates R.C. 2929.41(E)(2), which provides: 
Consecutive terms of imprisonment imposed shall not exceed: 
An aggregate minimum term of fifteen years, plus the sum of all three-year terms of actual incarceration imposed pursuant to section 2929.71 of the Revised Code and the sum of all six-year terms of actual incarceration imposed pursuant to section 2929.72 of the Revised Code, when the consecutive terms imposed are for felonies other than aggravated murder or murder.
Where a trial court's sentence exceeds the aggregate minimum allowable for consecutive sentences, the judgment does not constitute reversible error because the terms of R.C. 2929.41(E)(2) are self-executing, automatically limiting the aggregate minimum sentence imposed to fifteen years. State v. Perkins (1994), 93 Ohio App.3d 672; State v. White (1985), 18 Ohio St.3d 340.
The assignment of error is overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN SENTENCING APPELLATE IN CLEAR DISREGARD OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF R.C. 2929.12 AND 2929.13.
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error IX and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VII, argue that the trial court neglected its duty to consider the statutory sentencing criteria set forth in R.C. 2929.12 and 2929.13 before imposing sentence in this case. As support for this argument, Defendants contend that in view of the relevant statutory factors which favor a shorter sentence in their cases, the sentences imposed are too harsh and unsupportable.
*18 Defendants do not argue that the sentences imposed on them by the trial court were not within permissible statutory limits. The sentences imposed by the trial court in this case were not only within allowable limits, but were not the maximum sentences which the trial court could have imposed. Under those circumstances, an appellate court should presume that the trial court considered the statutory sentencing criteria in the absence of an affirmative showing that it failed to do so. State v. Taylor (1992), 76 Ohio App.3d 835.
The record indicates that before imposing sentence the trial court stated that it had reviewed the presentence investigative report which had been prepared for each of these defendants. Such evidence is sufficient to satisfy the requirement that the trial court consider the statutory sentencing criteria before imposing sentence. State v. Turner (1987), 37 Ohio App.3d 38.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error IX and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error VII are overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ENTERING JUDGMENT AND IMPOSING CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES ON ALLIED OFFENSES OF SIMILAR IMPORT, THEREBY VIOLATING R.C. 2941.25
As to each and every one of the eleven victims in this case, each Defendant was convicted of three separate offenses, all a part of Ohio's credit services act, Chapter 4712 of the Ohio Revised Code. The three offenses were: (1) failing to register as a credit services organization in violation of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), (2) charging an advanced fee for credit services in violation of R.C. 4712.07(A), and (3) engaging in fraudulent acts in the sale of credit services in violation of R.C. 4712.07(L). John Schlosser, Assignment of Error X and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error VIII, argue that these three offenses constitute allied offenses of similar import which were not committed separately or with a separate animus as to each, and pursuant to R.C. 2941.25 they may be convicted of only of these offenses with respect to each victim.
R.C. 2941.25 provides: 
(A) Where the same conduct by defendant can be construed to constitute two or more allied offenses of similar import, the indictment or information may contain counts for all such offenses, but the defendant may be convicted of only one. 
(B) Where the defendant's conduct constitutes two or more offenses of dissimilar import, or where his conduct results in two or more offenses of the same or similar kind committed separately or with a separate animus as to each, the indictment or information may contain counts for all such 
offenses, and the defendant may be convicted of all of them.
In City of Newark v. Vazirani (1990), 48 Ohio St.3d 81, the Ohio Supreme Court stated: 
Under R.C. 2941.25, a two-tiered test must be undertaken to determine whether two or more crimes are allied offenses of similar import. In the first step, the elements of the two crimes are compared. If the elements of the offenses correspond to such a degree that the commission of one crime will result in the commission of the other, the crimes are allied offenses of similar import and the court must then proceed to the second step. In the second step, the defendant's conduct is reviewed to determine whether the defendant can be convicted of both offenses. If the court finds either that the crimes were committed separately or that there was a separate animus for each crime, the defendant may be convicted of both offenses. (State v. Blankenship (1988), 38 Ohio St.3d 116, 117, 526 N.E.2d 816, 817, approved and followed.) 
*19 Syllabus.
Accord: State v. Teets (March 23, 1993), Champaign App. No. 92CA6, unreported.
R.C. 4712.02(J)(1) provides: 
No credit services organization shall fail to comply with division (A) of this section. 
Division (A) of R.C. 4712.02 provides in relevant part: 
A credit services organization shall file a registration application with, and receive a certificate of registration from, the division of consumer finance before conducting business in this state ...
R.C. 4712.07(A) and (L) provide respectively: 
No credit services organization, salesperson, agent, or representative of a credit services organization, or independent contractor that sells or attempts to sell the services of a credit services organization shall do any of the following: 
(A) Charge or receive directly or indirectly from a buyer money or other consideration readily convertible into money until all services the organization has agreed to perform for the buyer are completed within the time periods described in division (A)(3) of section 4712.05 of the Revised Code. 
(L) Engage, directly or indirectly, in any fraudulent or deceptive act, practice or course of business in connection with the offer or sale of the services of a credit services organization.
In comparing the elements of the above three offenses, we conclude that those elements do not correspond to such a degree that commission of one of the offenses necessarily results in the commission of the others. In that regard we note that, for purposes of R.C. 4712.07(L), the fraudulent or deceptive acts involved in this case included the consistent failure to tell customers who were solicited that they were required to purchase merchandise from a catalogue to qualify a Visa or Mastercard, the failure to tell customers about any other requirements, and guarantees that the customer would receive a credit card upon payment of the applicable fee. The three credit services act offenses at issue in this case are not allied offenses of similar import, but rather are offenses of "dissimilar" import. Pursuant to R.C. 2941.25(B), defendants may be convicted and sentenced for all three of those offenses with respect to each victim.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error X and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error VIII are overruled. PC Weight/Sufficiency of the Evidence 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL, AS THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT APPELLANT WAS A CREDIT SERVICES ORGANIZATION, AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF ALL THE OFFENSES CHARGED IN THE INDICTMENT.
All of the statutes that John and Todd Schlosser were found guilty of violating, R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), R.C.4712.07(A), R.C. 4712.07(L), including the predicate offenses R.C. 4712.02(J)(1) that form the pattern of corrupt activity for purposes of the RICO charge, require that these Defendants were a "credit services organization" within the meaning of R.C. 4712.01(C)(1). John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error I and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error I, argue that the evidence failed to prove that they were a credit services organization and, therefore, the trial court should have granted their request for a Crim.R. 29 acquittal as to all of the offenses.
*20 R.C. 4712.01 provides: 
(C)(1) "Credit services organization" means any person that charges or receives directly from the buyer, money or other valuable consideration readily convertible into money, and that sells, provides, or performs, or represents that the person can or will sell, provide, or perform, any of the following services: 
(a) Improving a buyer's credit record, history, or rating; 
(b) Obtaining an extension of credit for a buyer; 
(c) Providing advice or assistance to a buyer in connection with division (c)(1)(a) or (b) of this section; 
(d) Removing adverse credit information that is accurate and not obsolete from the buyer's credit record, history, or rating; 
(e) Altering the buyer's identification to prevent the display of the buyer's credit record, history, or rating. (Emphasis ours.) 
(D) "Extension of Credit" means the right to defer payment of debt, or to incur debt and defer its payment, offered or granted primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. "Extension of credit" does not include a mortgage.
The monies that were withdrawn from customer's bank accounts as a result of the Defendant's solicitations were not withdrawn by them, but by the check processing firms they utilized. The Defendants argue that because they received no monies directly from their victims they do not satisfy the statutory definition of a credit services organization.
The fatal flaw in Defendants' argument is that under R.C. 4712.01(C)(1) a person who either charges the buyer money for an extension of credit or receives directly from the buyer money for that credit card meets the definition of "credit services organization." The evidence demonstrates that these Defendants directly charged the buyers money for a credit card through the check processing companies utilized by the them. Therefore, Defendants meet the definition of a "credit services organization" set out in R.C. 4712.01(C)(1).
In reviewing either the weight or sufficiency of the evidence supporting a criminal conviction, the same test is applied. Our function is to examine the evidence admitted at trial and to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Jenks (1991), 61 Ohio St.3d 259. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. On the trial of a case, either civil or criminal, the weight to be given the evidence and credibility of the witnesses are primarily for the trial court. State v. DeHass (1967), 10 Ohio St.2d 230.
Viewing the evidence and the reasonable inferences deducible therefrom in a light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found all of the elements of these offenses to have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. As the evidence was sufficient to prove that Defendants were operating their telemarketing business as a credit services organization and, therefore, to sustain their convictions for the offenses charged, the trial court correctly overruled Defendants' request for an acquittal. Crim.R. 29(A); State v. Bridgeman (1978), 55 Ohio St.2d 261.
*21 John Schlosser's Assignment of Error I and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error I are overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON THE COUNT OF ENGAGING IN A PATTERN OF CORRUPT ACTIVITY, AS THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTED, AT MOST, ONE INCIDENT OF CORRUPT ACTIVITY AS CHARGED IN THE INDICTMENT.
In order to convict these Defendants of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity the State was required to prove, among other things, the existence of a "pattern of corrupt activity," meaning "two or more incidents of corrupt activity." R.C. 2923.32(A)(1); R.C. 2923.31(E). The predicate offenses which the State relied upon as the corrupt activity were violations of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), the failure of these Defendants to register as a credit services organization, that is, to obtain a certificate of registration from the division of consumer finance before doing business in this state. Such certificates of registration must be acquired and renewed once per year, on or before April 30th. R.C. 4712.02(H).
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error II, argues that because the law requires him to obtain the necessary certificate of registration under R.C. 4712.02(A) only one time per year, he can only be convicted of violating that statutory requirement one time in any given one year period. Because all of the violations of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1) in this case occurred within a single one year period, after April 30, 1993 and before April 30, 1994, John Schlosser argues that the State only proved one incident of corrupt activity, not two or more incidents, and therefore there has been no proof of a "pattern" of corrupt activity and the trial court should have granted his request for an acquittal on the RICO charge. We disagree.
John Schlosser's argument would permit a person to violate the licensing requirements of R.C. 4712.02 on a regular and repeated basis, risking exposure to only one fourth degree felony. Circumvention of licensing and regulatory provisions such as those contained in Chapter 4712 of the Revised Code in that manner, is not what the General Assembly intended when it imposed an annual registration requirement.
R.C. 4712.02(A) requires credit services organizations to obtain the necessary certificate of registration before conducting business in this state. In the context of the particular facts of this case, we conclude that each and every telephone solicitation of the eleven different victims in this case, which occurred separately in time and place, constitutes a separate act of conducting business in this state. To the extent that each and every one of those eleven acts occurred at a time when these Defendants did not possess the certificate of registration required by R.C. 4712.02(A), each act of conducting business while unlicensed constituted a discrete violation of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1). Accordingly, the evidence presented established eleven separate violations of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), which is obviously sufficient to prove a pattern, "two or more incidents," of corrupt activity for purposes of the RICO charge. The trial court correctly denied John Schlosser's request for an acquittal as to that charge.
*22 

John Schlosser's Assignment of Error II is overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENTS OF ACQUITTAL ON TEN COUNTS OF FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A CREDIT SERVICES ORGANIZATION, AS THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTED, AT MOST, ONE COUNT.
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error III and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error II, argue that the trial court erred when it overruled their motions for a judgment for an acquittal on ten of the eleven counts involving violations of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1). This argument depends upon Defendants' reasoning in the preceding assignment of error, that they can only be convicted of one violation of this licensing statute per year. As we noted, the argument has no merit. Each act of solicitation of the eleven different victims in this case by these Defendants at a time when these Defendants did not possess the required certificate of registration, constitutes a separate, distinct violation of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1).
The evidence demonstrates that these Defendants solicited by telephone eleven different people for the purpose of selling them a VISA or Mastercard. These solicitations occurred at separate times. At no time did these Defendants ever possess the certificate of registration required by R.C. 4712.02(A). Thus, the evidence clearly establishes eleven separate violations of R.C. 4712.02(J)(1), and the trial court correctly overruled Defendants' request for an acquittal on ten of those counts.
John Schlosser's Assignment of Error III and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error II are overruled. 
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN OVERRULING APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL, AS THE EVIDENCE DID NOT ESTABLISH A PRECONDITION TO PROSECUTION, TO WIT: THE ISSUANCE OF A CEASE AND DESIST ORDER UNDER R.C. 4712.12(C).
John Schlosser, at Assignment of Error IV and Todd Schlosser, at Assignment of Error III, argue that the trial court should have granted their request for an acquittal on all of the charged offenses because issuance of a "cease and desist order" pursuant to R.C. 4712.12(C) is a prerequisite to criminal prosecution for violations of Chapter 4712 and no such order was issued in this case.
R.C. 4712.12 concerns the authority of the division of consumer finance to investigate alleged violations of Chapter 4712 of the Revised Code and obtain injunctive relief in order to curb such violations. The statute provides in part: 
(C) If the division of consumer finance determines that a person is engaged in, or is believed to be engaged in, activities that may constitute a violation of sections 4712.01 to 4712.14 of the Revised Code, the division may, after notice and a hearing conducted in accordance with Chapter 119 of the Revised Code, issue a cease and desist order. Such an order shall be enforceable in the court of common pleas.
R.C. 4712.99 specifies that violations of R.C. 4712.02 and R.C. 4712.07 constitute felonies of the fourth degree. There is no language in R.C. 4712.12 or elsewhere in Chapter 4712, nor have Defendants directed this court to any authority, which holds that the issuance of a cease and desist order is a precondition to criminal prosecution for violations of Chapter 4712.
*23 John Schlosser's Assignment of Error IV and Todd Schlosser's Assignment of Error III are overruled. 
Conclusion
The judgment of the trial court will be affirmed, except with respect to Defendant John Schlosser's conviction for a violation of R.C. 2923.32(A)(1), which will be reversed.

WOLFF and FAIN, JJ., concur.
Ohio App. 2 Dist.,1996. State v. Schlosser
Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1996 WL 280038 ( Ohio App. 2 Dist.)

For additional information about starting a credit repair company in [STATE] contact your state or an attorney.

Requirements for Surety Bond for Credit Repair Business in Ohio

A few states do require a surety bond. (At the time of this writing most states do not require a bond.) If your state does require a bond, you are required to secure you bond from your same state.

Bonds are a minimal expense (usually under a few hundred dollars) because you order them from a bond service and pay only a small fraction of the bond yourself. A Credit Repair Services Organization Bond protects you. For more information about Credit Repair Services Organization Bonds, contact BondsExpress.

If you get your bond through a bonds service, the amount you pay will generally be 2-3% of the total bond amount (this cost varies depending upon your credit).

Statute of Limitation on Debt in Ohio

Ohio credit repair businesses must be knowledgeable about the statute of limitation governing debt in Ohio because this will guide your business decisions and enable you to best help your clients. The statue of limitations essentially limits the time that a creditor can legally sue a consumer for payments for a debt. Statutes of Limitation (SOL) do vary by state and debt type. In general, it is usually between 3 to 6 years, but sometimes longer.

To learn more about the statute of limitation laws for your state, click here.

Ohio Credit Repair License

We’re not aware of a state requirement for a “credit repair license” to operate a credit repair business in Ohio. However, many find getting training and a certification useful because it:

  • Conveys competence to prospective clients
  • Helps gain the trust of clients
  • Arms you with the training and tools you need to help clients and build a recurring revenue model

The American Credit Repair Academy http://try.creditrepaircloud.com/academy/; offers training, resources, and credit repair certification

Market Potential for an Ohio Credit Repair Business

Market Temperature:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
icon-starting
Percentage Of Credit Reports That Have Errors

79%

icon-starting
Total Number of People Living In Ohio

11.61 million

icon-starting
Average Debt on Credit Report

$5,700

icon-starting
Percent of Population With Credit Scores Below 700

44.3%

icon-starting
Percent of home buyers getting a mortgage for their home purchase

88%

How to Profit with a Credit Repair Business in Ohio

1. Start

  • Get a powerful CRM that handles your business for you
  • Train and learn about the business
  • Create a professional website
  • Market your business to new clients

2. Run

Use software to automate the tasks of a credit repair business in Ohio:

  • Import clients’ credit reports
  • Generate dispute letters in seconds
  • Manage recurring payments and affiliate programs

3. Grow

  • Capture new lead and close more deals
  • Use the data you gather to scale your business
  • Automate more functions: signature capture, payment integrations, meeting scheduling, and more

All of this is available with Credit Repair Cloud

TRY IT FREE!

Frequently asked questions

Where in Ohio do I need to register my new credit repair business?
To get your new credit repair business started in Ohio, you can follow the Ohio Business Road Map, including how to register your business with the Ohio Secretary of State Department. In Ohio, you are also required to register with the Ohio Department of Commerce. To find the forms needed, click here and scroll halfway down the page to “credit services” or follow the Ohio Credit Services Organizations checklist. The forms include a general application, the required bond, and litigation disclosure.
Why should I start a credit repair business in Ohio?
Ohio provides credit repair business owners with online and in-person resources, such as an Ohio business registration guide and information on local trainings and events, both online and through multiple regional Small Business Development Centers across the state. The Ohio Secretary of State also provides helpful pages like their Ohio Business Profile to help you start your credit repair company.
What structure should my credit repair company have in Ohio?
What structure you choose for your Ohio credit repair company will depend upon what makes sense for your immediate and future goals. We suggest you consult with a lawyer and a tax accountant to be sure that you’re setting up your credit repair company for success. There are seven business structures to choose from in Ohio from sole proprietor to S Corp to LLC and your decision should take into account legal and financial factors.

What Other Credit Repair Businesses Say

ROB Y

Laredo, TX

We have a tax preparation business. My partner and I decided to branch out into credit repair. Credit Repair Cloud now helps us to build our customer base for the tax business. It is a wonderful tool for lead generation. Credit-Aid provides superior customer service. You have gained a customer for life!
testimonials-bob.jpg

MANAL MASSIS

Houston, TX

I love your system! This was the best investment ever and the customer service with Credit Repair Cloud is excellent. You have a very good team. I wish companies were just like you. I've tried everybody out there and your system is very powerful. Thank you for helping me. God bless you!
MANAL MASSIS

Join our next free training!

How to Quickly Start a Profitable Credit Repair Business

MINUTESSECONDS
secret1.png

Secret 1

How Credit Repair is the LOWEST COST & MOST PROFITABLE business you can launch. . .

Secret 2

How our step-by-step “Dispute Process Blueprint” gives you EASY Credit Repair Results without being a credit expert. . .

Secret 3

How our easy method gets you UNLIMITED Clients without paying for advertising. . .

Legal disclaimer: Our software products and resources offer credit information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However, we do not provide legal advice (i.e.; the application of the law to your individual circumstances). For legal advice, please consult an attorney, your city or your state.