A national home security company has been accused in a consumer fraud lawsuit of ripping off customers by providing false and misleading information about the company’s cancellation policies, Cook County,Illinois,State’s Attorney Anita Alvarezsaid.
CastleRock Security Inc., of Arlington Heights, Ill., is accused of violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act as well as the Automatic Contract Renewal Act. Also named in the lawsuit is Brian Johnson, president of the company.
The suit was filed on behalf of four former customers who were fraudulently billed by the company despite having cancelled their service contract.
“These individuals all believed they took the appropriate steps to cancel a service they no longer wanted,” said Alvarez. “Consumers should be aware that there are protections under the law that prevents them from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous practices.”
According to the lawsuit, CastleRockemployees are alleged to have routinely omitted or provided inaccurate information to consumers who called to cancel their service contracts causing them to incur thousands of dollars in unwanted charges and harassment from collection agencies.
Although automatic consumer contract renewals are allowed under Illinois law, a company is required to notify customers at least 60 days prior to expiration of the contract in order to provide the consumer with the opportunity to cancel the contract in writing or by telephone.
In the last three years, the Better Business Bureau has logged over 750 complaints from consumers nationwide in relation to the business practices of CastleRock Security.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, one of the victims was assured by a representative of the company that her service would be cancelled when her contract expired.
A few months later she received a bill from CastleRock and when she inquired was told that proper procedure to cancel her contract had not been followed and thus it had been automatically renewed for another year. When the victim refused to pay, the company sent her past due bills to a collection agency that continues to contact her to this day.
In another instance, a customer attempting to cancel her service was told that in order to cancel she was required to fax a letter to the company prior to the contract’s renewal date. A few months later the victim discovered that the company had deducted money from her checking account despiteherhaving faxed the proper cancellation letter.
When she called the company, another representative told her that the letter had to be received at least 30 days before the expiration of the contract and that her contract had been renewed for another year.
All of the victims represented in the lawsuit
had their bills referred to collection agencies that continue to
contact them to this day. The disputed charges were also referred
to credit reporting agencies.
In addition to seeking restitution for the victims, the lawsuit seeks to enjoin CastleRock Security from engaging in deceptive practices in the future. Consumers who believe that they may have been victimized by this company can contact the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit for assistance at (312) 603-8700.