I've been in finance for over three decades and I've read thousands of credit reports.
Here's my observations and advice:
1. STOP wasting your time with that karma nonsense. It's a rabbit hole that, in my professional experience, does very little to assist consumers with valid credit guidance.
2. Credit scoring and credit reports are "organic" to a certain extent: many moving parts shifting each month. That's why the "karma" advice and others like it can't work correctly all the time, or in the long term.
3. Credit scores update once a month. Period. Not daily, not weekly, not based on activity. Creditors choose to provide reporting information to the THREE credit bureaus (Trans-Union, Equifax and Experian). The accuracy of that information can often be questionable.
4. No consumer anywhere can obtain the same credit scores that we use in the financial services field. We use "CLASSIC" FICO scores. Even should you obtain your score from the FICO website, it's not a CLASSIC score. I've seen differences of as much as 100 points in either direction between the consumer-access credit scores and CLASSIC scores.
5. Financing decisions are made using CLASSIC FICO scores by pretty much every credit-decision maker everywhere.
6. The creditor you mention in your article is neither attempting to defraud you nor prevent your obtaining credit if you are creditworthy. With the credit score they gave you, you are not creditworthy by their standards. (FYI: You're entitled to a free Trans-Union credit report due to the credit denial; get it. You'll see what's really going on with your credit report)
7. Creditors of all sorts (mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.) have varying criteria from one creditor to the next to determine creditworthiness.
8. I'd guess with your score being below 600, but not below 570 that your credit history reflects some derogatory accounts, but does not feature enough current, active "good" credit to counter-balance the older derogatory. My guess is based on reading thousands of credit reports. In other words, chances are pretty good I'm correct in my assessment.
9. IF my analysis in #8 is correct, you should immediately begin adding some value to your credit history. Become an Authorized user on a family member's good-performing credit account. Open a secured credit card with a bank that reports to the credit bureaus (not all do!). Open an account with an online catalogue company like Fingerhut; you're very likely to be approved because they want you to buy their merchandise.
(Visit www.consumer-action.org for great, legitimate, free advice on all things credit related)
10. NEVER ever ever ever ever ever ever EVER pay anyone to repair/restore/add trades to your credit report. I've met too many people over my career who have done that only for me to tell them months later how terrible their credit is and, no, I cannot approve them for a mortgage to buy a house. They respond with the kind of outrage you express in your article. Those credit "repair" people are scams, IMHO. I don't care if they now appear as "legitimate" on the FTC website: I haven't seen a single case where those types of services assisted a consumer in the long term. And credit is LONG TERM.
As for people offering to add trades to your report: dunno, but that sounds incredibly fraudulent to me.
Wishing you the best! Hope this helps.