Dayna DeHaven Sep. 9, 2014, 1:58pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and SEI/Aaron’s Inc., a leasing company, recently agreed to enter into a consumer protection settlement.

The settlement requires that the company pay $45,000 to the state of Vermont and $2,000 to each of the three Vermont consumers whose leased computers were allegedly remotely monitored for online activity, violating privacy rights of consumers through the Vermont Consumer Protection Act.

“(The settlement) reflects my commitment to protecting the privacy rights of Vermont consumers, and to enforcing our consumer laws to achieve that goal,” Sorrell said.

SEI/Aaron’s, which is a franchise of Aaron’s Inc., leases a variety of furniture, appliances and electronics. Between late 2010 and early 2012, the company allegedly remotely activated a software program called Detective Mode on some of the computers to log key strokes and generate screen captures of websites visited.

The company’s goal in using the program was to recover lost or stolen laptops, but it allegedly illegally used Detective Mode to help collect overdue payments on laptop computers. In these instances, SEI/Aaron’s could not document the software activation was in response from a reported loss or theft, Sorrell said.

In addition to restitution payments, the company agreed not to use any software in response to delinquent payments or in connection with debt collection.

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