Experian has been handed a fine of $650,000 by the Federal Trade Commission due to its engagement in sending unsolicited product and marketing messages to its customers.
According to a formal complaint submitted by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, Experian Consumer Services (ECS), based in California and also recognized as ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., was found guilty of inundating consumers with promotional offers after they registered for an account to oversee their credit report data. The complaint contends that the emails sent by the company lacked a clear mechanism for recipients to opt out, thereby violating the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.
Samuel Levine, the head of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, emphasizes that enrolling for a membership should not imply an agreement to receive unwelcome emails, especially when the primary intention is to safeguard one's identity through freezing their credit. Levine stresses that individuals always retain the right to decline marketing communications, and the FTC is dedicated to upholding this right.
Individuals who sought to implement measures like freezing their Experian credit information or managing it online were required to establish an ECS account. The complaint contends that subsequent to this, consumers began to receive emails endorsing Experian’s array of products and services, including Experian Boost, which outlines methods to enhance credit scores, and a "Dark Web" scan that is provided for free. However, these emails lacked a means for recipients to unsubscribe and halt the inflow of additional promotional emails.
Experian appended a notification at the bottom of these emails, asserting that the content was vital information concerning the recipient's account. In contradiction to Experian’s assertions, the complaint alleges that these emails were unrelated to the account and instead were aimed at marketing and endorsing products and services.
The penalty of $650,000 is not the only measure taken; a proposed decree also compels ECS to desist from dispatching marketing emails that do not furnish an avenue to opt out from receiving such communications. The approval of a federal court is mandatory for this decree to become enforceable.