FTC Wins $5.2 Million Judgment against Defendants Who Tricked Consumers with Ads for Non-existent Rental Properties and ‘Free’ Credit Reports

FTC Wins $5.2 Million Judgment against Defendants Who Tricked Consumers with Ads for Non-existent Rental Properties and ‘Free’ Credit Reports

Money will be returned to consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 9, 2018) – (RealEstateRama) — A federal judge has ordered Credit Bureau Center, LLC and its owner, Michael Brown, to pay more than $5.2 million to return to consumers, to resolve FTC charges that they deceived people with fake rental property ads and deceptive promises of “free” credit reports, and then tricked them into enrolling into a costly monthly credit monitoring service.

FTC

Brown and his company, formerly known as MyScore LLC, and their co-defendants placed Craigslist ads for rental properties that did not exist or that they had no right to offer for rent. They impersonated property owners and offered property tours if consumers would first obtain credit reports and scores from their websites. These sites claimed to provide “free” credit reports and scores, but then enrolled consumers in a credit monitoring service with monthly charges of $29.94. Many people did not realize they were enrolled until they noticed unexpected charges on their bank or credit card statements, sometimes after several billing cycles.

At the FTC’s request, a federal court halted the scheme during litigation. In October 2017, the FTC obtained a court order that required Brown’s co-defendants Danny Pierce and Andrew Lloyd to pay a total of $762,000 to resolve the charges against them.

The order announced today grants the FTC’s motion for summary judgment and enters a final judgment and order against Brown and his company, finding they violated the FTC Act, the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Free Annual File Disclosures Rule.

As part of the $5.2 million judgment, the court entered a permanent injunction that bans Brown and his company from selling any credit monitoring service with a negative option feature, and from misrepresenting material facts about any product or service. The order also specifies how they must monitor their affiliate marketers in the future. For example, they must require certain information from affiliates, including their name and location, and advance copies of all marketing materials. They also must investigate any complaints about affiliate marketers and end the affiliation if they find practices the order prohibits.

The order requires Brown and his company to make certain disclosures when selling any product or service with a negative option feature, and when offering free credit reports. It also bars them from using billing information to obtain payments from consumers without first obtaining their express informed consent.

In addition, the order prohibits Brown and his company from profiting from consumers’ personal information obtained as part of the scheme and failing to dispose of it properly.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook(link is external), follow us on Twitter(link is external), read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

FTC Obtains Court Order against Deceptive Marketers Who Tricked Consumers with Ads for Non-existent Rental Properties and ‘Free’ Credit Reports

CONTACT INFORMATION

CONTACT FOR CONSUMERS:
Consumer Response Center
877-382-4357

CONTACT FOR NEWS MEDIA:
">Frank Dorman(link sends e-mail)
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

STAFF CONTACTS:
Guy G. Ward
FTC Midwest Region
312-960-5612

Samuel A.A. Levine
Bureau of Consumer Protection
312-960-5634

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Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American. It is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy.

The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers’ interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.

Contact:

202-326-3224
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

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