Update: Aaron’s Rent-To-Own Chain to Pay $28.4 Million in Settlement Over Privacy, Consumer Protection
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission negotiated a settlement with Aaron’s Rent-To-Own concerning surveillance software that was installed on computers that consumers rented from them. The software, PC Rental Agent from DesignerWare, allowed access to personal e-mails, financial and medical data and webcam photos of partially undressed individuals, the FTC said.
Now, Aaron’s Rent-To-Own has negotiated a settlement with California over charges that it violated the state’s privacy and consumer protection laws. The privacy portion of the settlement is related to the surveillance software. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced in a statement:
In addition, the complaint alleges that Aaron’s violated California state privacy laws by permitting its franchised stores to install spyware on laptop computers rented to its customers. A feature in the spyware program called ‘Detective Mode’, which was installed without consumers’ consent or knowledge, allowed the Aaron’s franchisees to remotely monitor keystrokes, capture screenshots, track the physical location of consumers and even activate the rented computer’s webcam. The installation of this software without customer consent violated California law.
The statement also said:
The settlement requires Aaron’s to refund $25 million to California customers who signed lease agreements between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2014 and to pay $3.4 million in civil penalties and fees.
Approximately 100,000 California customers will be eligible for restitution. […]
Customers who are eligible for restitution will receive notice at their last known mailing address. Customers who believe they are eligible for restitution can also proactively submit a claim by visiting www.rent-to-own-settlement.com or calling 877-449-8548.
Copies of the complaint against Aaron’s Rent-To-Own and the stipulated judgment are available here.