SEATTLE — The Washington State Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has filed suit against an Ohio-based Internet business for failing to disclose its service charge and not fully refunding customers.
“Whether deceptive businesses have a store front or are online, if you don’t play by the rules, my office will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “The Attorney General’s Office is filing a lawsuit against change-my-address.com to protect Washington consumers.”
Change-my-address.com has consumer complaints across the country
Form Giant, LLC, also known as ‘change-my-address.com’ offers online change-of-address services.
The Ohio Better Business Bureau has had more than 500 complaints from consumers across the country about change-my-address.com, including complaints from Washington consumers.
Overview of the alleged scheme
Consumers searching for change of address services often find the defendants’ web advertisement at the top of search engine results. The AGO investigation learned that, in many cases, the consumer believed this was the official site for the United States Postal Service (USPS) change of address service.
Once at change-my-address.com, the consumer filled out the appropriate address and forwarding information and clicked on the ‘continue’ button to complete the transaction. He or she was taken to the page requesting payment information.
During the period of February 2013 to at least July 24, 2013, the defendants programmed the payment information page so when it loaded onto the consumer’s computer screen, it automatically jumped down to the middle of the page where the credit card information was requested, and obscured the pricing information.
The defendants allegedly obscured the top of the payment page, which if manually scrolled to the top stated, “To prevent fraudulent address changes and to cover the cost of processing and handling, you authorize us to charge your credit or debit card a one-time $19.95 fee.”
They furthered their scheme by creating the impression that the cost of services would be limited to the $1 charge assessed by the USPS for address changes.
In addition, the business refused to refund the full amount charged when consumers sought refunds.
Washington state files Consumer Protection Act lawsuit
The AGO has filed a Consumer Protection Act lawsuit against the defendants, including the business’s president, Matthew Riley, in King County Superior Court.
The complaint can be found, here.
The AGO is requesting civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation, and restitution for all consumers harmed.
Senior Counsel Paula Selis heads up the Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit that investigated the case.
Ohio is also filing a similar lawsuit.
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