US credit reporter Experian has agreed to pay a $650,000 fine for violating US Spam email laws.
The company agreed to the settlement in order to end claims that it was in violation of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, better known as CAN-SPAM ACT (Americans love abbreviations.)
The DOJ charged Experian with sending users unwanted emails about their credit report. While Experian's primary business is credit score monitoring, the company makes money with a number of premium services.
According to the DOJ, Experian violated the CAN-SPAM law by sending unwanted emails and not properly notifying recipients that they were getting an advertisement for a commercial service. Recipients were offered, among other things, credit score reporting services and dark web monitoring.
All of this, allegedly, was conducted without letting the email recipients know they could opt out of the mailing list and rid themselves of future emails.
In particular, the DOJ took issue with Experian offering to freeze a person's credit and then using the information gathered in that process to send them solicitations for other services.
"The complaint asserts that Experian sent its account holders millions of commercial emails promoting additional Experian services," the department said.
"These emails asked the consumer to confirm whether a car that Experian had associated with the user’s account was theirs, offered a service aimed at boosting the user’s credit score, and advertised a free scan of the dark web. The emails did not give the recipients notice that they could opt-out of future such emails or provide any opt-out mechanism."
To settle the matter, Experian agreed to pay a $650,000 civil penalty as well as agree to additional fines should the company find itself violating the CAN-SPAM Act in the future by sending unsolicited emails.
"It is critical that consumers have the ability to opt-out of unwanted commercial emails, and such emails should not be misleading in any way,” Central California US District Attorney Martin Astrada said in announcing the fine.
"This permanent injunction and civil penalty will provide relief to consumers and help to prevent future violations of the CAN-SPAM Act."
The order is stipulated and currently awaiting a judge's approval.