Lockyer wins settlement in rent-to-own case

Legal News Line Nov. 28, 2006, 5:49am

SAN FRANCISCO--Rent-A-Center (RAC) will pay more than $7 million in restitution to thousands of California customers to settle a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The company also agreed to reform its business practices. Lockyer accused RAC, the nation's largest rent-to-own company, of failing to disclose the full costs of its programs and of "deceptive advertising" in marketing memberships in its 'Preferred Customer Club'. In particular, the suit cited false claims of extended warranties, insurance and service contracts, as well as not disclosing additional charges to qualify for a program. Lockyer estimates that restitution to all pf RAC's California customers who bought or rented from them after Nov. 1, 2004 will total more than $7 million. RAC must also deposit another $7 million, representing undistributed restitution from an earlier private lawsuit against the company, into a special consumer protection fund. The fund will be used to "protect California consumers in areas of consumer lending and finance, debt collection and the sale and lease of consumer goods and services. Under the settlement RAC also will pay $750,000 in civil penalties.

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