Rather than attracting the luck of the Irish on this St. Patty’s Day, it looks like ValueClick has fallen prey to Murphy’s Law. The firm already garnered unwelcome headlines when it announced its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission a month ago, an agreement to cough up $2.9 million for allegedly violating the CAN-SPAM and FTC Acts.
The FTC has provided more detail on what ValueClick was charged with, and what the firm has agreed to. “According to the FTC’s press release, “ValueClick subsidiary Hi-Speed Media used deceptive e-mails, banner ads, and pop-ups to drive consumers to its Web sites.” Like other recent settlements with the FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the offers promoted free items like plasma TVs that ended up costing consumers who “were led through a maze of expensive and burdensome third-party offers – including car loans and satellite television subscriptions – which they were required to ‘participate in’ at their own expense, in order to receive the promised ‘free’ merchandise.”
Perhaps more damaging, the commission alleged Hi-Speed Media and ValueClick subsidiary E-Babylon “failed to secure consumers’ sensitive financial information, despite their claims to do so.”
The company now must disclose the true costs of “free” offers and can no longer make false claims about security of consumer data collected on e-commerce sites.
ValueClick originally announced the settlement February 13 in conjunction with its Q4 2007 earnings report. The firm recorded the $2.9 million charge related to the settlement in that quarter.
According to the FTC, it’s the heftiest settlement based on the CAN-SPAM legislation. The agency voted 5-0 to approve the final order.
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