More than a dozen state attorneys general announced a $34.2 million settlement with Harris Jewelers for targeting military service members nationwide with dishonest sales and financing tactics.
The jewelry retailer had also targeted those stationed in San Diego. The announcement comes during Military Consumer Protection Month.
As a part of the settlement agreement, Harris Jewelers will be required to write off $21.3 million in consumer debt nationwide, including more than $800,000 in debt owed by Californians, and provide nearly $12.9 million in consumer refunds, including more than $700,000 to service members in California.
“We recognize that while our military service members devote their lives to protecting our country, there are still some who see them as financial targets to be exploited,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Today’s settlement should serve as a warning to any businesses thinking of engaging in shady practices to make an extra buck: We will not stand idly by. The California Department of Justice is committed to protecting the service members they work day in and day out to protect all of us.”
The nationwide retailer sold military-themed gifts, jewelry, and watches. According to Bonta’s office, the retailer would target active duty service members with the sales pitch that purchasing from them on credit, regardless of their credit history, or subsequent payments, improves service members’ credit scores.
Bonta’s office noted that the nationwide jeweler utilized unfair and deceptive sales practices in connection with its jewelry protection plan. The retailer also failed to include disclosures in its advertisements and retail installment sales contracts as required under the Truth in Lending Act and Military Lending Act.
The company will be required to vacate judgments against 112 consumers, which totaled more than $115,000 while deleting any negative credit entries reported to consumer reporting agencies. Harris Jewelers will be banned from the future marketing or sale of related products.