ICFE eNEWS #07-03 - February 26nd 2007
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ConsumerInfo.com (a/k/a Experian Consumer Direct) Settles FTC Charges
FTC Alleges Ads For "Free" Credit Report Violate Federal Court Order

ConsumerInfo.com, doing business as Experian Consumer Direct, will pay $300,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that ads for its "free credit report" offer failed to disclose adequately that consumers who signed up would be automatically enrolled in a credit- monitoring program and charged $79.95. The FTC alleged that the failure to clearly disclose the enrollment and charges violated a previous settlement.

In August 2005, ConsumerInfo.com, paid $950,000 to settle FTC charges that it deceptively marketed "free credit reports." According to the FTC, Consumerinfo offered consumers a free copy of their credit report and added that they would provide "30 FREE days of Credit Check Monitoring." The FTC alleged that Consumerinfo's advertising and Web sites failed to explain adequately that after the free trial period for the credit-monitoring service expired, consumers automatically would be charged a $79.95 annual membership, unless they notified the defendant within 30 days to cancel the service. Consumerinfo billed the credit cards that it had told consumers were "required only to establish your account" and, in some cases, automatically renewed memberships by re-billing consumers without notice. In addition to the $950,000 payment, the settlement required Consumerinfo to pay redress to deceived consumers, barred deceptive and misleading claims about "free" offers, and required clear and conspicuous disclosure of terms and conditions of any "free"offer.

The FTC alleges that ConsumerInfo.com ran ads after the settlement that violated the disclosure requirement. The settlement requires Consumerinfo to give up $300,000 in ill-gotten gains, and bars it from misrepresenting any affiliation with the annual credit report available to consumers under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The stipulated judgment and order named ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., doing business as Experian Consumer Direct, Qspace, Inc., and Iplace, Inc.

The Commission vote to accept the supplemental stipulated judgment and order was 5-0. It was filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.

NOTE: Stipulated judgments and orders for permanent injunction and monetary relief are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Stipulated judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.

Copies of the legal documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's Web site at FTC.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business Practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at FTC.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2181

STAFF CONTACT:

Malini Mithal,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2972

(FTC File No. X05 0065)
(Civil Action No. CV SACV05-801 AHS (MGx))



 

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

 
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