PhotoIf you are or were a California resident who signed a lease with Aaron Rents in the last four years, you might be one of the 100,000 or so customers legally entitled to a refund.

Aaron's has agreed to pay $3.4 million in fines and $25 million in refunds to settle claims that it violated California privacy and consumer-protection laws.

However, the company has denied any wrongdoing in the matter. When ConsumerAffairs asked Aaron's for comment, Director of Public Relations Garet Hayes sent us the following statement:

“Neither Aaron's, Inc. nor any of its California franchisees admit any wrongdoing or liability as part of this settlement.  Aaron's, Inc. and its franchisees are committed to ensuring that our business practices in California and everywhere meet or exceed both legal requirements and the expectations of our customers.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in an Oct. 13 press release that the company violated the state's Karnette Rental-Purchase Act by  “charging improper late fees, overcharging customers who paid off contracts early, and omitting important contract disclosures.” Harris also said that “Aaron's concealed its illegal privacy and business practices from customers in a deceptive attempt to avoid California's robust consumer protection laws and increase its profits. This settlement provides millions of dollars in restitution to consumers and requires Aaron's to make significant changes to its business practices.”

What to do

If you think you are eligible for part of this settlement refund, you can submit a claim at Aaron's webpage, or call 877-449-8548. The settlement applies to California customers who signed lease agreements between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2014.

This isn't the first time Aaron's been in legal trouble for allegedly spying on its customers. Last October, the company settled with the Federal Trade Commission over claims that it basically spied on everybody who bought or rented a computer from them, by loading the computers with spyware that surreptitiously tracked users’ locations and watched them through webcams – even people engaged in intimate activities. The computers also contained keylogging software that recorded users’ login credentials for email accounts and financial and social media sites, according to the FTC.

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