SEATTLE, Wash. - Hundreds of thousands of consumers may have unknowingly enrolled in membership programs while using Web sites owned by Bellevue, Wash.-based Intelius. A two-year investigation by the Washington Attorney General’s Office alleges that Intelius received thousands of consumer complaints regarding unauthorized enrollment in the programs and that company management including CEO Naveen Jain knew about the complaints but chose to continue the deceptive and tremendously profitable marketing tactics.
“Intelius chose cash over candor,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “Despite a continuous stream of complaints from consumers about mysterious charges, despite a consultant’s belief that Intelius’ advertising practices were causing confusion and despite a recommendation from its own staff to make it easier for consumers to opt out of additional purchases, the company wouldn’t change course.”
McKenna said a $1.3 million settlement with Intelius will protect consumers. Filed today in King County Superior Court, the settlement doesn’t require the company to admit any wrongdoing, but significantly restricts its future advertising practices. Intelius will also provide refunds to Washington state residents who were enrolled in the company’s “Identity Protect” program but never used the service.