Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald:
Spying complaint against Aaron’s settled with FTC
ATLANTA — Atlanta-based Aaron’s settled on Tuesday charges by the Federal Trade Commission that the rent-to-own giant’s computers contained software that allowed it to collect unauthorized information from customers.
The FTC said Aaron’s — one of the nation’s biggest rental businesses with 1,880 locations in 48 states — “knowingly played a direct and vital role in its franchisees’ installation and use of software” to secretly collect data from customers. The company also stored the captured data on its servers and shared collected information with franchisees.
In the settlement agreement, Aaron’s did not admit or deny the allegations.
The settlement comes as Aaron’s fights at least four class-action lawsuits over the spying, with plaintiffs numbering in the thousands. One of the biggest suits, Byrd vs. Aaron’s Inc., involves at least 900 plaintiffs and claims that hundreds of thousands of images, screen shots, logins, and computer serial numbers were illegally obtained between 2008 and 2011.
The FTC focused on Aaron’s after investigating Designerware LLC, a Pennsylvania company that provided Aaron’s software, called PC Rental Agent. The software was included on laptops and desktops so Aaron’s and its franchisees could recover unreturned computer equipment.
Which I’m sure is a common problem, rent-to-own joints having to repo the shit for non-payment. Better computers than beds and couches, because God knows what happens on rent-to-own-procured couches and beds.
As part of the settlement, Aaron’s is prohibited from using monitoring technology except to provide technical support requested by a customer and has been ordered to delete or destroy information it improperly collected.
“Technical support requested by a customer.” Knowing rent-to-own joint clientele, they’ll call tech support and ask something like, “Uh uh uh this herr ‘puter done be telling me to press any key. Where da any key be at?”
I don’t get the point of why Aaron’s did this. What kind of data did they expect to mine? Hell, anything you need or want to know about the typical person who rents-to-own a computer at Aaron’s, you can find out by reading the crime blotter, or reading Tweets and Facebook chats written in Ebonics.
Maybe Aaron’s was worried that their customers were cheating on them with Rent-a-Center.