NEW YORK – A marketing company has agreed to pay $8 million to settle allegations that it tricked Internet shoppers into signing up for discount clubs with hidden fees.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that Stamford, Conn.-based Affinion Group had also agreed to permanently suspend certain marketing programs he called “deceptive,” and which had been the subject of complaints nationwide.

Affinion said it would strive to ensure that its marketing material incorporates “clear, prominent and unambiguous terms.”

Internet discount clubs have come under fire from Congress and regulators in several states.

The basis for many of the complaints was a practice, suspended by Affinion in January, in which Internet shoppers were offered cash back on their purchases simply by clicking a box as they completed their transaction.

Many buyers didn’t notice disclosures warning them that accepting the offer enrolled them in a club with a monthly fee. The transaction was made even easier to miss because, until recently, some merchants would automatically forward customer credit card information to Affinion.


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