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From Home Furnishing Business

SEI/Aaron's Settles Computer Monitoring Suit

Rent-to-own retailer SEI/Aaron's  (NYSE:AAN) has agreed to settle with the Vermont Attorney General for $45,000 to the state of Vermont and $2,000 to each of three consumers whose consumers were remotely monitored for online activity.

According to the case, between late 2010 and early 2012, the Aaron's arranged to have a software program called Detective Mode remotely activated on some of the computers, to log key strokes and generate screen captures of Web sites visited. The main purpose of Detective Mode was to allow the company to recover laptop computers that were reported lost or stolen.

However, the Attorney General alleges that SEI/Aaron’s also used Detective Mode to help collect overdue payments on laptop computers, which invaded consumers’ privacy in violation of the Vermont Consumer Protection Act.

"The settlement reflects my commitment to protecting the privacy rights of Vermont consumers, and to enforcing our consumer laws to achieve that goal,” said William Sorrell, Vermont's Attorney General.

Under the settlement agreement, Arron's will pay the $45,000 in civil penalties and costs. The $2,000 will be paid to each of the three consumers with laptops where Detective Mode was activated and the company could not document that the activation was because of a reported loss or theft.

SEI/Aaron’s also agreed not to use, in response to delinquent payments or in connection with debt collection, any software that tracks, captures, monitors or records keystrokes, e-mail, screen shots, Web sites visited, or any other activity on a leased computer.

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