Privacy

Computer-Rental Companies Spied on Customers

They logged keystrokes, took photos and harvested log-ins

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Eight companies accused of spying on consumers via rented computers have agreed to settle charges that they broke the law and engaged in unfair business practices, the Federal Trade Commission announced.

The rent-to-own companies are accused of using a program called "Detective Mode" that pinpointed the whereabouts of computers via geolocation tracking software if consumers were late on payments.

The software also was used to log key strokes, capture screen shots and take photos with the webcam, and it displayed a fake software registration screen ostensibly from Microsoft or Yahoo that tricked customers into providing their personal contact information, according to an FTC statement released today.