Experian fined $650K over sales emails

A subsidiary of credit monitoring company Experian has been slapped with a fine and an injunction for sending sales emails to customers that they couldn’t opt out of.

Experian Consumer Services was fined $650,000 by the Federal Trade Commission, which also imposed a permanent injunction on it for sending millions of unsolicited emails to customers who created free Experian accounts to control third-party access to their credit reports.

Credit freezing is a popular service with people afraid that cybercriminals and other fraudsters might try to impersonate them to take out loans in their names, leaving them saddled with debts they didn’t ask for.

The emails asked customers to confirm whether a car that Experian had associated with the user’s account was theirs, offered a service aimed at boosting the user’s credit score, and advertised a free scan of the dark web.

“The emails did not give the recipients notice that they could opt-out of future such emails or provide any opt-out mechanism,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the ruling. “The complaint alleges that these emails implied that they contained important information about the recipient’s account, even though they were commercial in nature.”

The government took action after receiving consumer complaints that the emails contained no opt-out mechanism. The injunction means that Experian Consumer Services must always enclose an unsubscribe option in any sales-related emails it sends out from now on.

“The stipulated order, entered by the federal district court yesterday, enjoins Experian from sending commercial emails that do not provide notice that the recipient may opt-out of receiving such emails in the future or an opt-out mechanism,” said the DoJ.

The ruling will be embarrassing for Experian’s parent company, also called Experian, which is often a go-to for companies who have been compromised in data breaches such as the MOVEit hack. Its credit monitoring and analysis services are typically offered by way of compensation to victims in such cases.

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