Porn Site Operator Settles With FTC

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Voice Media Inc., which operates several porn Web sites, settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it placed unauthorized charges on the credit cards of consumers who signed up for "free trial" offers.


Voice Media agreed not to bill consumers after a free trial expires without having first "clearly and conspicuously posted notice of the expiration of the offer or provided access to such information by means of clear and conspicuous hyperlink on ... log-in page," according to the FTC agreement reached May 30.


Voice Media, Carson City, NV, came under fire for ads on two of its adult sites urging consumers to participate in one-week free membership to the sites and submit their credit card numbers. The corresponding registration form notified consumers that the one-week membership is free but that, if they chose to remain a member beyond the trial, the membership would automatically renew at $34.95 per month until it was canceled.


However, Voice Media immediately charged consumers' credit or debit cards for a month's membership fee, even when they had canceled the free trial within seven days, according to the FTC.


The settlement mandates that Voice Media cannot request credit card information -- except when verifying users' age -- without giving consumers clear, conspicuous information about membership costs and the length of free trials.


Voice Media can post the complete terms of its offers on a separate Web page, as long as consumers can obtain access to the page through a direct link.


Voice Media executives were unavailable for comment.


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