FTC Finalizes Settlement with Data Broker Agency Charged Privacy Pledges Were Deceptive

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has accepted a final settlement with an online data broker that charged consumers $10 based on the false promise that it could “lock their records” so that others could not see or buy them. The FTC charged that its claims were deceptive and violated federal law. The settlement, first announced September 22, 2010, requires that the broker, US Search, refund the fees it charged to nearly 5,000 consumers, and it bars misrepresentations about the effectiveness of any service that claims to remove information about consumers from the broker’s website.

The Commission vote to accept the settlement as final was 5-0, with Commissioner Julie Brill issuing a separate concurring statement. In her concurring statement, Commissioner Brill said industry should consider providing consumers with meaningful notice about information brokers’ practices, a reasonable means to access and correct consumers’ information, and a reasonable mechanism to opt out of these databases.

Public comments on this order can be found here.

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1877-FTC-HELP.

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