The Federal Trade Commission said this week it has reached a settlement with several rental companies on charges they secretly loaded software onto computers they rented out that let them to spy on customers.
The spyware let the rental companies track, shut down and recover the computers if customers fell behind on payments. But the FTC said the software did much more: It also illegally took pictures of computer screens, captured key strokes, stole email and social media passwords, collected confidential financial and medical records and even took intimate webcam photos.
The settlement was reached with seven companies including J.A.G. Rents LLC of Tampa, which served as a ColorTyme franchise, and the firm that licensed the software to the rent-to-own companies, DesignerWare LLC of Pennsylvania.
The owner of J.A.G. Rents could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
The settlement forbids the companies from illegally spying on customers and using their personal information to collect debts. The FTC is accepting public comments on the settlement until Oct. 25 at www.ftc.gov.