UPDATE: A new class action settlement has been reached resolving additional allegations against Intelius. If you were charged for monthly membership services after purchasing an Intelius product, you may be eligible to claim $300 in cash and vouchers. The deadline to file a claim is November 11, 2013. See if you qualify now.
Bellevue, Washington-based Intelius has been ordered to pay $1.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit involving allegations of deceptive marketing tactics. If you received unauthorized charges as a result of an online transaction with Intelius, you can submit a claim for a refund of those charges.
The Intelius class action lawsuit settlement is part of a broader effort by the Washington Attorney General’s Office to crack down on “post-transaction marketing tactics,” which trick consumers who are signing up for online services into signing up for additional services that tack on additional charges without their knowledge.
“Post-transaction marketing plunges you into an online labyrinth where the only way out is to click and click and click. One wrong turn and you’re enrolled in a membership program that costs you $20 or more each month. And you’ll never know until you scrutinize your credit card bill,” said Washington AG Rob McKenna in an announcement about the settlement.
During its two-year investigation, the Washington AG’s Office received more than 400 complaints about Intelius, which provides online public records services such as background checks, people search and identity-theft protection. The majority of the complaints were from consumers who unwittingly signed up for the Identity Protect service offered by third-party marketing company Adaptive and were not allowed by Intelius to get a refund for the unwanted service.
According to the class action lawsuit, Intelius transmitted its customers’ credit or debit card information to Adaptive Marketing after they made a transaction, and then lured the customers into clicking on additional pop-up windows that appeared to be offers from Intelius. Instead, the customers were unwittingly signing up for services from Adaptive, which used the Intelius customer’s bank information to charge them a monthly fee without their knowledge or consent.
The lawsuit estimates approximately 19,000 Washington consumers were enrolled in an Adaptive membership program during a transaction with Intelius from July 2007 to July 2008, and that Intelius earned more than $35 million from its partnership with Adaptive between 2007 and 2008. Intelius began its own membership program in April 2008 called Identity Protect, which also tricked customers into unwittingly signing up for the service. The lawsuit claims Intelius made it extremely difficult to cancel this service and failed to issue full refunds — and sometimes any refund — to customers who requested one.
As part of the class action lawsuit settlement, Intelius must sign a consent decree barring it from engaging in deceptive marketing tactics. It must also send a postcard and email message to all Washington consumers who were enrolled in Identity Protect before August 12, 2009 that explains the settlement and how they can claim a refund. Consumers who receive a postcard or email from Intelius must submit their information at www.inteliusrefundprogram.com by November 8, 2010 in order to claim their refund.
View all: Class Action Lawsuit and Settlement News