ValueClick settles with Federal Trade Commission

Another company has settled charges today with the Federal Trade Commission over violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, netting the FTC another $2.9 million in civil penalties. Online advertiser ValueClick and its subsidiaries were charged with using deceptive e-mails, banner ads, and pop-ups to drive traffic, as well as a failure to secure customers’ financial information. The settlement is the largest in CAN-SPAM’s five-year history, says the FTC, and bars the companies from any further violations.

ValueClick and subsidiary Hi-Speed Media’s e-mails and online banners promised free gifts like iPods, gift cards, PS3s, laptops, and plasma TVs, among other things. But when unsuspecting users clicked through, they were greeted with a number of third-party offers that they were required to sign up for before receiving their “free” gifts. It was ValueClick’s failure to disclose that users must first sign up for other offers (ones that cost them money) before collecting the prize that was a violation of the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act and the FTC Act. (link)

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