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September 19, 2014

Iowans Receiving Buying Club Refunds

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(DES MOINES, Iowa) The Consumer Protection Division assures consumers receiving State of Iowa refund checks that the mailings are legitimate and come from a $40 million fund tied to three separate buying club cases.

Late last week the office, through a settlement administrator, began the two-month process of mailing approximately 374,000 checks owed to Iowa consumers.  Since Iowans began receiving payments, some recipients have contacted the Consumer Protection Division and Iowa Department of Administrative Services to verify that the payments are legitimate.

The refunds are part of the Attorney General’s years-long effort to enforce Iowa’s buying club laws and return illegally collected payments to Iowa consumers.  The refund checks generally range from $6-$40, though some will be substantially higher.

“We applaud Iowans who are skeptical about a check that just shows up in the mail,” Attorney General Tom Miller said.  “In this case we can assure people that this is a legitimate refund distribution and is not a scam.”  Miller added that refund mailings do not seek to collect personal information.  “We are not sending out emails or calling Iowans and asking them to verify any personal information tied to these refunds.”

Each green refund check is labeled as a “State of Iowa Warrant” drawn from the state treasury, and is signed by the director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.  The warrant includes the official State of Iowa seal.

Consumers receiving checks were first notified in early July of the partial refunds for buying club membership fees.

Refunds Tied to Buying Clubs
The refunds include restitution from three companies:  Vertrue Inc. and Affinion Group Inc., both of Connecticut, and Stonebridge Benefit Services Inc., of Texas.  All three companies sold buying club memberships to Iowans who were generally unaware of monthly buying club membership charges.

Attorney General Tom Miller alleged that all three companies violated Iowa consumer fraud laws.  Miller prevailed in a lawsuit against Vertrue, which later declared bankruptcy, and the state collected $32.6 million of a $40 million judgment.  Miller reached settlements with Affinion and Stonebridge, which both denied wrongdoing but agreed to pay refunds to Iowans.

Consumers with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the refund administrator directly, which is handling all refund inquiries:

Phone: 1-866-989-8782
Email: info@iowabuyersclubrefunds.com
Mail: Iowa Buyers Club Refunds
P.O. Box 1923
Faribault, MN 55021-1944

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