Attorney General Charlie Crist News Release
December 12, 2006
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Crist Announces Settlement Agreement with AOL
TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that his office has reached an agreement with America Online, resolving consumer complaints about billing issues and membership charges. In addition to making consumer restitution, the company has agreed to forgive consumer debts stemming from the issues involved in Crist’s investigation.
Crist’s Economic Crimes Division began investigating the internet provider in September 2005 after receiving more than 1,000 consumer complaints. The investigation focused on several areas, including consumer complaints that cancellation requests were not honored, former accounts were reactivated without consumers’ authorization, charges were imposed for “spin-off accounts,” and consumers were being mistakenly billed for AOL services on their phone bills. AOL assisted investigators in identifying numerous consumers who were harmed by these practices.
“Consumers should not have to keep looking over their shoulders to make sure mega-corporations aren’t trying to take advantage of them,” said Crist. “This agreement is an important step toward protecting our citizens from consumer fraud.”
Under the agreement, AOL will pay consumer restitution or otherwise forgive outstanding balances to consumers identified during the course of this investigation as having been potentially affected by AOL consultant misconduct, as well as to consumers who have filed complaints with the Florida Attorney General’s Office prior to or during the investigation. In addition to providing restitution to these consumers, AOL has agreed to provide refunds, credits and debt forgiveness to all eligible Florida consumers who file a complaint with the company. Consumers are also encouraged to file claims with Crist’s office, and can obtain a claim form by clicking on the AOL Settlement icon on the Attorney General’s website at www.myfloridalegal.com.
A copy of the AOL agreement is available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JFAO-6WDR4G/$file/AOL_settlement.pdf
The consumer claims form is available at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JFAO-6WDR44/$file/AOL_Complaint_Form.pdf