HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that, as part of a multistate agreement, he’s secured a settlement that recovers $34.2 million for 46,000 service members and veterans nationwide who were deceived by Harris Jewelry. The jewelry company used deceptive marketing tactics to lure active-duty service members into a financing program, falsely claiming that doing so would improve their credit scores. In reality, service members were tricked into taking out high-interest loans for thousands of dollars on overpriced, poor quality jewelry. According to the agreement negotiated by 18 states and the FTC, Harris Jewelry must stop collecting debt from the service members they deceived and take appropriate action to correct their poor credit scores. July is Military Consumer Month and with Friday’s agreement, at least 87 service members in Pennsylvania who borrowed more than $100,000 will receive restitution.
“Harris Jewelry preyed on active service members and veterans,” said AG Shapiro. “The people who willingly place themselves in harm’s way in order to protect our freedoms deserve better. With [this] agreement we’ve reduced the crushing debt Harris Jewelry placed on our service members and veterans and won them their hard earned money back. Let this be a warning to other companies, anyone who tries to scam our heroes who serve will have to answer to me.”
A multistate investigation found that Harris Jewelry violated the FTC Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Military Lending Act, the Holder Rule; and state laws in connection with jewelry sales and financing to members of the military.
Harris Jewelry made false or unsubstantiated claims that financing jewelry purchases through the company would result in higher credit scores. They misrepresented their protection plan and failed to include written disclosures in its retail installment contracts as required by the Truth in Lending Act and the Military Lending Act.
Harris Jewelry also offered service members protection plans on the jewelry, which they claimed was optional, but was added to nearly all eligible transactions without the consumer’s consent. The costs of the protection plans ranged from $39.99 to $349.99 and in some cases, exceeded the wholesale cost Harris paid for the item.
Eligible service members and veterans will receive an email and letter in the mail notifying them of Friday’s agreement and if they qualify for restitution.
Joining Attorney General Josh Shapiro in Friday’s agreement which was led by New York and the FTC are the attorney generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.
Pennsylvania service members and veterans who believe they may have been scammed should reach out to the Office of Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Affairs Office by emailing [email protected] or calling 717-783-1944.
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