Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell reached a settlement on Tuesday with J.C. Penney Co. and a company that sells discount membership programs following allegations that the two businesses violated the state's 2012 Discount Membership Program Act.
J.C. Penney allegedly gave Texas-based Stonebridge Benefit Services Inc. full credit card numbers for its cardholders without their knowledge. Consumers then were billed for charges for membership programs, such as Savings Solutions, Savings2Go, Perfect Home, LeisurePlus, MotorPlus, Fun Family, Everyday Bargains and BackPorch.
Under the Vermont Discount Membership Act, consumers must verify their credit card information to companies so they know what they're signing up for. The law also says that consumers must be reminded for what they're paying for and aren't charged over 18 consecutive months without having to sign up again for a membership.
“The act provides our citizens with some of the strongest protections in the nation against a type of marketing that poses a risk to consumers of not knowing they are being billed, or for how long," Sorrell said.
As part of the settlement agreement, both companies will comply with Vermont law and Stonebridge will pay more than $400,000 in restitution to consumers in the state.