May 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica’s MyLife.com To Pay $800K In Penalties, $250K In Customer Refunds:

Local social media website MyLife.com has agreed to a court judgment under which it will pay $800,000 in penalties, plus $250,000 in refunds to customers, according to the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.

The City Attorney’s office said the company will also be subject to a permanent injunction that prohibits false advertising and unauthorized credit card charges.

The case is believed to be the first major prosecution of an online business for violating California’s automatic-renewal law.

The case grew out of a joint investigation by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“Consumers online should be extremely careful with two things: their personal information and their credit cards,” said Adam Radinsky, Santa Monica’s Chief Deputy of Consumer Protection. “Consumers should be especially alert to automatic renewals whenever they make an online payment for any service or membership. If a company doesn’t make you explicitly consent to the program, it may be illegal.”

Investigators found that MyLife was tricking consumers into giving the company their personal identifying information, and later their money, through false and misleading ads.

The tactics included:

— Getting consumers to give their personal information, by promising that they would learn who was searching for them, for free. In fact, consumers had to pay for that service.

— Using blurred photos to look like they were supposed to be actual people who were searching for the consumer, when they were not.

— Advertising a low monthly rate, then charging consumers’ credit cards for a full year’s membership.

— Re-charging consumers’ credit cards automatically, each year, without disclosing that they would do so – and without getting consumers’ affirmative consent as required by law.

Under the permanent court injunction, MyLife is prohibited from:

1. Charging consumers’ credit cards under an automatic renewal, without first giving clear notice and getting explicit consent from the consumer;

2. Promising any free service if consumers must pay money to get it;

3. Ignoring a consumer’s request to cancel his or her membership;

4. Showing photos of people to get consumers to sign up, unless the photos actually depict the people being referred to; and

5. Taking payment for a membership longer than one month, unless all terms of the deal are clearly and conspicuously displayed in close proximity to the payment button.

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office said a new California law requires all businesses to get explicit consent from consumers before automatically renewing their credit card payments. The terms of any auto-renew agreement must also be clearly and prominently stated.

The company was founded in 2002 under the name Reunion.com, by Jeffrey Tinsley. It started primarily as a people-search tool and made its money by charging for paid memberships. With the rise of Facebook and other social media sites – which provide more information, free of charge – MyLife’s paid people search feature became increasingly outdated and hard to sell. MyLife later launched a “Who’s Searching For You” feature, again for a fee, which claimed to tell members who was searching for them online.

The company originally came under scrutiny for its practice of “contact scraping,” where the company sent automated emails to all address-book contacts of each person who signed up for its services – without the knowledge of that person. So each member’s friends and family would receive an email, falsely telling them that the member wanted them to sign up too. The Los Angeles Times ran an exposé of the company in 2008 (when it was still known as Reunion.com) which described its questionable practices at the time.

The final court judgment was just entered in the Santa Monica courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The Mirror has contacted MyLife for comment regarding the outcome of the City Attorney office’s investigation.

in News
Related Posts

Seller of Bel Air Mansion Furious After Property Flops at Auction

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Mansion on Sarbonne Road in Bel Air fails to meet $50 million reserve price By Sam Catanzaro The seller of...

Environmental Review Begins for West Los Angeles Civic Center Redevelopment

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

The West LA Commons set to bring 926 units of housing and 36,569 square feet of retail to Santa Monica...

Is Santa Monica’s Most Expensive Property Still a Bargain?

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

22,640 square-foot property on market for $69 million By Dolores Quintana The most expensive property in Santa Monica has been...

Must-Watch ‘Disruptive’ Appliance Experience Store Opens in West Los Angeles, Hosts Grand Opening in June

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Howard’s West Los Angeles Experience Center opening at 900 La Brea Boulevard  By Susan Payne West Los Angeles is home...

Marina Del Rey Family Searches for Missing 29-Year-Old Son With Autism

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

J​​eremy Hansbrough missigns cine May 16 By Sam Catanzaro A Marina del Rey family is searching for their 29-year-old son...

Santa Monica Pier to Feature High-Flying Waving American Flag on  Ferris Wheel During Memorial Day Weekend

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris wheel will feature a high-flying 130-feet tall, animated waving American flag throughout...

Message From Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community Members, Sadly, we have learned of another horrific school shooting, this time in the...

Three Juveniles in Hosptial Following Overdose in Santa Monica

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Two females in critical but stable condition, third victim “alert and recovering” By Sam Catanzaro Three juveniles suffered an overdose...

John Adams Middle School Student Selected to Perform at Carnegie Hall

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

JAMS Student Grayson Fitzgerald named junior finalist for the 2022 middle school honors performance series at Carnegie Hall By Staff...

SMC Student Film “The War Within” Accepted into 2022 American Pavilion at Cannes

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s...

Santa Monica City Council Looks to Shorten Meetings

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Council to consider changes at Tuesday meeting By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica lawmakers are considering taking steps to shorten City...

Landmark Theater Official Closes on Pico

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Pico Boulevard location closes Sunday By Sam Catanzaro The Landmark Theater on Pico Boulevard in Westwood has officially closed.  The...

Road Closures Expected During Demolition Of Parking Structure Three: Santa Monica Beat – May 23rd, 2022

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Free Donuts At Randy’s Donuts For National Doughnut Day* Road Closures Expected...

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...