In an effort to protect consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing three of the nation’s biggest online marketers for misleading consumers about their services, a consumer protection watchdog group said on Monday.
Attorneys General from states across the country filed a complaint with the agency, seeking class action status in the case.
The Consumer Financial Fraud Enforcement Bureau has said it’s investigating the complaint as well.
“The Consumer Federal Trade Commission is investigating and will continue to vigorously pursue any and all claims of wrongdoing that may arise from the conduct,” the agency said in a statement.
The FTC alleges that the companies falsely advertised their services as free, even though they charged customers an annual fee to access and use the service, and falsely claimed they could protect consumers from fraud, identity theft, identity breaches and other fraud.
The companies include Bank of America, Paypal, Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover.
The complaint is similar to one filed by the Justice Department last month against several of the online service providers in a separate consumer protection case.
The FTC filed a similar complaint in January with the Consumer Products and Services Alliance, accusing the online companies of marketing their products as “free” and claiming they could reduce consumer debt.
The Justice Department alleges the online services are often marketed to consumers who may have trouble paying bills, are unable to get a loan, or are in arrears on their mortgage payments.
The agencies complaint seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting the companies from using misleading terms and promoting their services to consumers.