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Settlement reached over discount club membership plans

Reported by: Mel Carlock
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Updated: 10/17/2013 11:34 am
JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) -- Mississippi and Alabama are among the states who reached a settlement over charges a Connecticut company misled consumers into signing up and paying for discount clubs and memberships

Attorney General Jim Hood says 46 other states and the District of Columbia have announced Affinion, and its subsidiaries Trilegiant and Webloyalty, will pay over $30 million to settle the allegations.

Consumers who received unauthorized charges for the programs can get a refund from a $19 million fund set up by Affinion.

Mississippi consumers who believe they were improperly charged by Affinion, Trilegiant, or Webloyalty can file consumer complaints with the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

Complaint forms may be obtained at www.agjimhood.com or by contacting the Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230 or 1-800-281-4418. The deadline to submit complaints to the Attorney General’s Office is February 14, 2014.

Affinion and its subsidiaries run multiple discount clubs and membership programs offering a variety of services such as credit monitoring, roadside assistance, and discounted travel.

The company used marketing partners and also marketed through direct mail, internet, telemarketing and face-to-face transactions.

Affinion charges a monthly fee to consumers for these services, which continues until the consumers affirmatively cancel.

Hood says some consumers complained Affinion charged them for services without consumers’ authorization or knowledge.

He says once consumers learned they were being charged, some further had trouble canceling or getting a refund.

Other consumers were confused about who Affinion even was because the offers looked like they came from Affinion’s marketing partners, which usually were banks or retailers with which the consumers did business.

Hood says the investigation uncovered several of Affinion’s marketing practices that misled consumers, including a lack of clear and conspicuous disclosure about Affinion’s identity, and the cost and ongoing nature of the charges.

Consumers checking their credit card and bank account statements should also be looking for the names of Affinion’s membership programs, as often that is how the company’s charges appear on their bills.

A complete list of Affinion’s membership programs may be obtained at www.agjimhood.com.
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