An Alberta man says he "feels duped" after spending nearly $3,600 on a program to boost his credit.

Charlton Budd, an ironworker, said his credit suffered after a break-up and bankruptcy, so he signed up for a program he found online from the Calgary-based company Credit Slab.

Budd said he paid $500 to sign up and agreed to pay $30 per week for three years, which he believed would boost his credit rating. He also expected to get a cash loan.

Budd said he never got any cash and that his credit didn’t improve. He ended up owing $3,600 because of it.

“I was duped by flashy websites,” he said. “I wish I would’ve done more due diligence, definitely.”

Credit Slab’s website promises a tablet and credit boosting program for a $599, plus weekly payments of $49.

The FAQ section says the loans are “100 per cent real” but emphasizes that clients do not get to keep the money.

The interest rate charged on the money is listed at 29.9 per cent.

Calgary police are investigating two complaints similar to Budd’s and the Better Business Bureau said they have heard from several people who felt misled by Credit Slab.

Founder Sheldon Wolf defends his product. He said there have been just a handful of complaints but thousands of satisfied customers.

“I would suggest that more people complain about cold popcorn in a movie theatre than our product,” he said. “The only time it doesn’t work is if a customer stops paying.”

Wolf said the loan is essentially a paper loan, paid back through his company, allowing the client to restore their credit.

“I don’t think that people deserve to have perfect credit,” Wolf added. “If you want to have good credit, it’s something you have to earn.”

Wolf said the interest rates are justified. “It’s significant and it has to be,” he said. “Keep in mind we are dealing with people who are typically high-risk.”

Credit expert Jeffrey Schwartz said there is “no magic” to re-building credit scores. “You are going to have to make payments (and) you are going to have to make payments on time.”

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada explains that credit scores can be damaged by many things, including late payments, missed payments and bankruptcy.

It lists five ways Canadians can rebuild their credit scores:

  1. Apply for a secured credit card.
  2. Make at least the minimum payment by the due date.
  3. Do not apply for too many credit and loan products.
  4. Review your statements.
  5. Check your credit report.

The agency also points out that Canadians can order free copies of their credit reports from either the credit rating agencies Equifax or TransUnion.

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Chris Epp