Bryan Cohen Oct. 11, 2013, 6:56pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced a $30 million national settlement Thursday with the Connecticut-based Affinion to resolve allegations it misled consumers into signing up and paying for discount clubs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Affinion, and its subsidiaries, Webloyalty and Trilegiant, will pay more than $30 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia and make changes to provide clear and conspicuous information to consumers after enrollment. Affinion will now give consumers periodic reminders of their enrollment and make changes to its cancellation practices.

Affinion and its subsidiaries run multiple discount clubs and membership programs that offer various services, including discounted travel, roadside assistance and credit monitoring. Affinion charges a monthly fee to consumers for the services, which continues until consumers cancel the programs affirmatively.

Consumers in the settling states alleged that Affinion charged them for services without the authorization or knowledge of the consumers. Furthermore, the consumers alleged that once they learned they were being charged, they had difficulty canceling or getting a refund. Some consumers alleged they were confused about who Affinion was because the offers looked like they came from Affinion's marketing partners.

The settling states alleged that two marketing practices of Affinion, live checks and online data pass offers, were particularly deceptive.

In a live check solicitation, consumers were sent an offer that appeared to be a check via direct mail. When consumers deposited the checks, they unknowingly authorized Affinion to enroll them in monthly billed membership programs.

In the online data pass offer, consumers received an Affinion offer immediately after an online purchase from a retailer. Affinion allegedly enrolled and billed consumers after receiving account information from its marketing partners.

Under the terms of the agreement, both practices are now prohibited.

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Alabama Attorney General
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