Consumers get $20 million returned from credit scheme

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Federal trade Commission by Cliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3364917905)], via Flickr

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission will return almost $20 million to more than 145,000 consumers across the country who were victimized by One Technologies LP and its two partner companies, in an online scheme.

The scheme lured consumers with “free” access to their credit scores and then billed them a recurring $29.95 monthly fee for credit monitoring they never ordered.

“It’s our goal whenever possible to put money back in the hands of hard-working American consumers who have been victimized,” said Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are pleased to announce that $20 million in refunds are going to back to consumers this week.”

Fake sites

The FTC and the states of Illinois and Ohio secured the consumer redress as part of a settlement of charges against One Technologies in January 2014.

The defendants marketed their credit monitoring programs, MyCreditHealth and ScoreSense, through at least 50 websites, including FreeScore360.com, FreeScoreOnline.com and ScoreSense.com.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants bought advertising on search engines such as Google and Bing so that ads for their websites neared the top of search results when consumers looked for terms such as “free credit report.”

The most prominent ad stated, “View your latest Credit Scores from All 3 Bureaus in 60 seconds for $0!”

The FTC alleged that the defendants violated the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, which prohibits charging consumers for goods or services sold online via a negative option unless the seller clearly discloses all material terms before obtaining the consumer’s billing information.

And, must obtain the consumer’s express informed consent before making the charge, and provides a simple way to stop recurring charges.

They were also charged with violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Cash back

The amount of each check that will be mailed to affected consumers will vary based on how much each person lost. People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 60 days.

The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide account information to cash refund checks.

Tips

For consumers considering a credit report or credit score service, here are a few things to consider: To get a copy of your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

Other websites that claim to offer free credit reports, free credit scores, or free credit monitoring are not part of the free annual credit report program under federal law.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your credit report or credit scores, remember that many things that companies do for a fee, you can do yourself for free.

If you think you’ve been a victim of deceptive marketing, let us know.

Learn more about the refund program at ftc.gov/refunds or by calling the FTC’s refund administrator analytics at 844-828-4441.

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