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Lead Generator that Deceptively Solicited Loan Applications from Millions of Consumers and Indiscriminately Shared Sensitive Info Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million FTC Penalty

FTC Finalizes Order with Mortgage Analytics Firm, Requiring it to Strengthen Security Safeguards, Increase Oversight of Vendors
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A leading generation company that has collected sensitive information from millions of consumers under the guise of linking them to lenders will pay $1.5 million in civil penalties and face restrictions on its operations as a result of a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission.

FTC Complaint It claims that since at least 2012, ITMedia Solutions LLC and a number of its affiliates, owners, and officers have operated hundreds of websites designed to entice consumers to share their most sensitive financial information — including Social Security numbers and bank account information. According to the complaint, the defendants sold that information to marketing companies and others without regard to how the information was used.

“ITMedia tricked millions of people into giving up sensitive financial information and then sold it to companies that were not making loans,” said Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Consumer Protection. “The company’s extraction and misuse of this data violated the law in a number of ways.”

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants — who used cashadvance.com, personalloans.com, badcreditloans.com and similarly named websites — promised consumers that their information would be shared with “…our network of trusted lenders…” or “.. .are shared only with qualified lenders.” Some sites promised that loans were available to people with poor credit history without credit score requirements.

In its complaint, the FTC claims that 84 percent of loan applications collected through these sites since January 2016 were not sold to lenders, but instead posted to a range of marketers, debt forgiveness and credit repair sellers, and businesses. that will resell consumers. information without regard to how the information is used. According to the complaint, in many cases, ITMedia was unaware of the purpose for which the company was purchasing consumer data, or sometimes even the physical location of the company.

ITMedia sold consumer information to a group of companies sued by the Federal Trade Commission last year for marketing payday loan products that charged consumers tens of millions of dollars in excess fees.

The complaint states that the harm to consumers from the “indiscriminate” sale of consumer data from ITMedia has been significant, putting them at risk of identity theft and fraud.

In addition to misleading consumers and selling their data without permission, the complaint alleges that ITMedia violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by illegally obtaining the credit scores of consumers who provided information and reselling it. The FCRA limits the purposes for which companies can obtain credit scores, and using scores to reach potential customers in the market is not an permitted purpose.

The defendants agreed to settle the charges against them from the Federal Trade Commission, and in addition to the civil penalty, the proposed settlement order would prevent defendants from making misleading statements to consumers, including how their personal information was used. The order would also prohibit defendants from selling personal information to consumers outside of a limited set of circumstances, and would require them to screen recipients of that information.

The complaint alleges that ITMedia Solutions LLC and a number of related companies, along with Michael Ambrose, Daniel Negari, Jason Ramin, Grant Carpenter, Anisha Hancock, and Sioni Kaofusi, violated FTC and FCRA law.

The commission voted to authorize the employees to file the complaint, and stipulated the final decision 4-0. Commissioner Kristen S. Wilson issued a statement agreeing. The FTC has filed the complaint and the final injunction/injunction In the US District Court for the Central District of California.

note: The Commission submits a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the defendants are in violation or about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that the case is in the public interest. Final orders provided for shall have the force of law when approved and signed by a district judge.

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