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Intelius Accused of Defamation|Through Bad ‘Date Check’ App

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A class action accuses Intelius, a software and "information commerce" company, of publishing false criminal records through its Date Check smart phone app. Paul Geller claims Date Check defamed him by reporting he has "18 criminal records," though his only legal infraction was a traffic ticket that was dismissed after traffic school. What's more, Geller says, Date Check spits out different records on different smart phones, and has an incentive to publish incorrect information, as it charges money for a supposedly more thorough check.

Intelius claims that its Date Check app allows users to check a person's criminal record by entering their name, phone number or email address.

But Geller, as class representative, says Intelius "published false, salacious, and/or misleading statements indicating that plaintiff and the class members had criminal records when they did not."

And the result comes up differently, depending on the smart phone, according to the Superior Court complaint.

"Intelius markets the Date Check app as a software tool to 'instantly check for criminal convictions and sex offenses,'" Geller says. Citing information from Intelius' website, the complaint states that Intelius pushes its Date Check app so people can check out the people they date.

"Today's dating scene it tough to navigate, which is why Intelius developed Date Check, a free mobile app that deciphers fact from fiction in the palm of your hand," the complaint states, attributing the citation to the intelius.com web site, on Jan. 21. Still quoting from the website, the complaint continues: "Simply enter a name, phone number or email address and instantly get accurate and comprehensive results. With features like Sleaze Detector, Compatibility, $$$, Interests and Living Situation, you can be in the know on the go. 'Look up before you hook up.'"

Geller claims that he used the app on his Android smart phone on Dec. 20, 2010, and was misinformed that he had 16 criminal records.

When he checked again on Jan. 17, he says, "this time the app reported that he had '18 criminal records.'"

But "in reality, plaintiff has no criminal records," Geller says. "Mr. Geller had one traffic infraction in 2002 which was dismissed after he attended traffic school.

"Intelius knows that Mr. Geller and numerous others in its system do not have criminal records, and yet it reports the contrary. When Mr. Geller's phone number is entered into the Date Check app on an iPhone, the system indicated that he had '2 Infraction Records,' '0 Felony Records,' '0 Misdemeanor Records,' '0 Violation Records,' and '0 Traffic Records.'"

Intelius markets itself as an "information commerce company," according to the complaint. Geller says Intelius has "an incentive for allowing false information about persons' criminal records in its database(s). In order for a person to determine exactly what the 'criminal records' are they may run a more comprehensive search. However, Intelius charges between $14.95 and $19.95 for such a search. Based on information and belief, a large number of persons who run the Date Check app on a person and see that the person has a criminal record, then also pay Intelius to see the content of that record.

"Moreover, the purchased report oftentimes contains different information than reported on the Date Check app. For instance, the paid-for report on plaintiff, which cost $14.95, showed that he had no criminal records and only a single traffic ticket."

Geller seeks an injunction and punitive damages for defamation, consumer law violations and unfair business practices.

His lead attorney is David Parisi with Parisi & Havens of Sherman Oaks.

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