FTC: Experian spammed consumers without giving them an exit

"Important information" was marketing material and didn't have an unsubscribe option

Being spammed is annoying enough but it's worse when there appears to be no way out. That's the condition faced by consumers who signed up for access to their Experian credit information, the Federal Trade Commission alleges.

The company is being required to pay $650,000 to settle the charges.

In a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, the agency says that Experian, also known as ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., spammed consumers with marketing offers after they signed up for an account with the company in order to manage their Experian credit report information.

In the emails, the company failed to provide clear and conspicuous notice of consumers’ ability to opt out of receiving additional marketing messages and a mechanism for doing so, in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, according to the complaint.

“Signing up for a membership doesn’t mean you’re signing up for unwanted email, especially when all you’re trying to do is freeze your credit to protect your identity,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “You always have the right to unsubscribe from marketing messages, and the FTC takes enforcing that right seriously.”

"Dark Web" scan

The complaint charges that consumers who signed up for credit information soon found themselves getting emails for other Experian products, including a service that supposedly boosts credit scores and another that offers a free "Dark Web" scan.

The problem with the emails was that they did not contain an unsubscribe link, as required by the CAN-SPAM Act.

Experian includes a notice at the bottom of these emails informing recipients that they are receiving the messages because they “contain important information about your account.” Contrary to Experian’s claims, however, the complaint charges that the emails are not related to consumers’ accounts and instead market or promote products and services. Therefore, the emails must provide consumers with a way to unsubscribe from receiving future messages.