US financial information group Experian has settled charges that it deceived consumers into signing up to a credit monitoring service.
UK-owned Experian lured people into signing up to the service by offering them free credit reports, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said.
Consumers were not adequately informed that they would be tied into the credit monitoring service, the FTC said.
They faced a $79.95 charge if they did not cancel the service within 30 days.
The FTC said Experian had agreed to refund consumers and would return some $950,000 (£528,318) in gains.
It said the company had used TV, radio, e-mail and internet advertisements promising free credit reports and extra free trials of a credit monitoring service.
Under the settlement, Experian was barred from making misleading claims about “free” offers and ordered to better explain the terms of its offers.
“It’s unfair and deceptive to promise consumers something for free and then trick them into paying for products they didn’t want in the first place,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Experian is owned by British retail and financial services group GUS.