SEATTLE – Washington state consumers are eligible for refunds as part of a settlement reached between the Florida Attorney General’s Office and Email Discount Network (EDN). Email Discount Network, located in Florida, charged more than 250,000 consumers nationwide a monthly fee for shopping coupons and discounts the company advertised on the Internet.
An investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division found consumers were unaware they were being charged this monthly fee on their phone bills. The state filed a civil lawsuit against the company last September, claiming EDN failed to clearly disclose that the offers for savings were not free. Additionally, it was not made clear that customers who submitted personal information to the company would be charged unless they contacted EDN to cancel their subscriptions.
Under the settlement, EDN must refund customers who submit valid claims to the company. Restitution is expected to exceed $1 million. EDN will also prominently disclose the monthly fee when it advertises on the Internet, as well as a consumer’s obligation to cancel services to avoid being charged.
The case was one of many recent investigations by the Florida Attorney General’s Office into a practice known as "cramming," in which companies place unauthorized charges on phone bills. Washington consumers can reduce their risk of becoming cramming victims by following the tips below.
Under the settlement agreement, EDN must notify eligible customers by e-mail that they are entitled to a refund. Washington residents who believe they are eligible for a refund should monitor their e-mail for a message from EDN.
The message includes a claim form and instructs consumers to provide their name, telephone number billed by EDN, mailing address and the number of months of service for which they seek a refund. Completed forms should be mailed to EDN: 1844 Nob Hill Road, #142, Plantation, FL, 33322, Attn: Consumer Refund Manager. Consumers must submit forms within 60 days of receipt.
Customers should also check their phone bills to see if they have a charge from EDN. If you do not receive an e-mail but believe you are eligible for a refund, call EDN’s customer service line at 1-800-730-8199.
Important warning for consumers: Con artists have sent letters to Washington residents informing them that they have received payments from a lawsuit settlement. The mailings often include counterfeit checks. You should be especially suspicious of letters and phone calls originating from outside the United States in which you are asked to provide money or personal information. If you receive a legitimate email from EDN, you will not be asked to provide an account number and should only mail your information to the company address above.
Tips to Avoid “Cramming”
- Carefully monitor your monthly phone and credit card bills. Contact your phone or credit card company if you spot unexplained charges.
- Read the fine print on contest forms and sweepstakes entries (especially forms you fill out on a Web site). The fine print on contest entries sometimes states that by completing the form, you agree to purchase a service and authorize the charge.
- Be wary of telemarketing calls offering "free" or "trial" services. By verbally agreeing to the terms or simply clicking on a “continue” button, you may unknowingly be enrolled in a costly program. Request information in writing prior to any approval. If you are receiving unwanted telemarketing calls, request to be placed on the caller’s "Do Not Call" list. You can also add your number to the federal Do Not Call list by calling 1-888-382-1222 or registering online at https://www.donotcall.gov.
- Be cautious when calling unfamiliar 800 numbers. Be especially wary if you're told to enter codes, leave your name, or answer "yes" to prompts. Cramming can occur when you call an 800 number advertised as a free chat line, psychic line or adult entertainment service and a recording prompts you to give your name and to say "I want the service.” The phone number from which you called is captured and billed.
- Ask your phone company to block 900 numbers or charges from third parties.
A copy of Florida’s settlement with EDN is available here.
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Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, Washington Attorney General’s Office, (206) 464-6432