SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – Intelius, an online “information commerce” company, enrolled thousands of visitors in programs that charge monthly fees without their knowledge, the customers say in a federal class action. By the end of 2007, more than $15 million of Intelius’ revenue was from fees it got through the programs, the class claims.
Intelius offers background checks, reverse phone lookups, people searches, social net searches, and other information services. It has established relationships with MSN, Yahoo! and other huge internet portals, according to the complaint.
Class members claim that when they paid for a specific service from Intelius, the company enrolled them into “Adaptive Programs,” without their knowledge.
Intelius then gave their payment information to co-defendants Adaptive Marketing, which paid Intelius “Bounty Fees” for enrolling as many people as possible, the complaint states.
Customers’ bills showed multiple charges of more than $19 a month for programs they didn’t order and don’t want, the class claims. The programs at issue include “Identity Protection,” and “ValueMax.”
The Washington State Attorney General has received more than 120 complaints against Intelius alleging deceptive trade, according to the complaint, and the Better Business Bureau more than 800 complaints.
The customers also say they were not permitted to deal with Intelius directly to terminate their unwanted “memberships.”
The class seeks damages for deceptive trade, false advertising, breach of financial privacy and conversion. The are represented by William Restis with Finkelstein & Krink of San Diego.