Well, it’s official. The Washington Attorney General is one of the first government entities to do more than yell about post transaction marketing scams like the ones we’ve been writing about at Intelius for years now.
A Consent Decree filed in the King County Superior Court in Washington requires the payment of $1.3 million in fines by Intelius. And they’re also restricted from engaging in some types of post transaction marketing, particularly where the consumer’s credit card is automatically being charged for services without them re-entering their payment information.
Intelius is also being required to offer refunds to some Washington residents who’ve been scammed. Those consumers will be sent a postcard stating that they may be entitled to a refund.
In a press conference Attorney General Rob McKenna stated that 19,000 Washington consumers signed up for the useless services between July 2007 and July 2008, and just one of those consumers was able to successfully get a refund. Up to 80% of consumers viewing the offers signed up, accidentally or not, and were charged for the service. They were then charged an upfront fee, typically $10, and a variable monthly fee, typically $20/month.
We did a visual walk through of just how these scams work here. We’ll upload the Consent Decree shortly.
Update: The documents: