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Santa Monica firm to pay $1.5 million for illegally obtaining financial data from millions of consumers – Daily News

Santa Monica firm to pay $1.5 million for illegally obtaining financial data from millions of consumers – Daily News
Written by Publishing Team

The Santa Monica company, which allegedly lured millions of consumers into providing sensitive information under the pretext of linking them to lenders, will pay $1.5 million in civil fines imposed by the Federal Trade Commission.

Lead generation company ITMedia Solutions LLC will also face restrictions on its sale and use of consumer data as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission last week.

Officials at ITMedia and its affiliates in Nevada and Utah include defendants in the lawsuit Michael Ambrose, Daniel Negari, Jason Ramin, Grant Carpenter, Anisha Hancock and Sioni Kaufusi.

ITMedia representatives did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Since December 2012, ITMedia has operated at least 200 websites that post ads targeting consumers seeking online payday loans, consumers with poor credit, consumers seeking personal loans and installment loans of up to $35,000. According to the lawsuit.

Websites used by ITMedia and its affiliates to target consumers include cashadvance.com, personalloans.com, badcreditloans.com, and other similar names. The websites report that they have found loans for consumers who complete an online form by providing Social Security numbers and bank accounts that the company describes as a loan application or application.

To convince consumers to complete applications, ITMedia websites promise to only share sensitive information with their network of trusted lending partners and financial service providers for loan purposes.

But in reality, ITMedia and the other defendants sold consumer information to marketing and other companies without regard to how the information was used, according to the lawsuit.

“ITMedia deceived millions of people into giving away sensitive financial information and then sold it to non-credit companies,” Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “The company’s extraction and misuse of this data violated the law in a number of ways.”

Since January 2016, about 84% of loan applications collected through ITMedia sites have not been sold to lenders, but are instead disseminated to marketing, debt relief and credit repair companies that will resell consumer information, the lawsuit says.

“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,” the FTC said.

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 also alleges that ITMedia violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by illegally obtaining and reselling customers’ credit scores, putting them at risk of identity theft and other fraudulent activities.

The defendants agreed to pay $1.5 million in civil fines to settle the FTC’s charges against them.

The proposed settlement order prohibits defendants from making misleading statements to consumers regarding how personal information is used.

They are also prohibited from selling consumers’ personal information outside of a limited set of circumstances and are required to screen recipients of that information.

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