DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Attorney General's Office says hundreds of thousands of Iowans tricked into signing up for free trial offers for buying clubs will get a refund. They had a certain amount of time to cancel the membership or their credit card would be charged. Many of the victims wound up paying for something they didn’t know they had and didn’t want.
"I do feel like I've been duped all right," says Richard Schulz of Des Moines.
State prosecutors went after three law-breaking companies and now 400,000 Iowans are entitled to refunds. After a more than ten-year legal battle, the state received a settlement from the three companies totaling $40 million. The Attorney General’s Office says Vertrue, Affinion, and Stonebridge violated the state’s Buying Club and Consumer Fraud laws. They first started investigating these fraudulent practices about 11 years ago.
Attorney General Tom Miller says his office is holding these deceptive companies accountable. The settlement also sends a message that there are consequences to tricking Iowans.
"If you come in and trick Iowans out of a small amount of money that adds up to a large amount of money, it's not going to work in the end. That kind of just deterrence and that kind of justice to take that money back from those people who tricked Iowans, I think that is really important," Attorney General Tom Miller.
Iowans who unknowingly signed up for memberships should receive a postcard from the Attorney General’s Office. Most refund checks will be for $6 to $40. You can find more information at www.IowaBuyersClubRefunds.com.