(The Center Square) — Georgia has joined a multistate settlement agreement that recovered $34.2 million for more than 46,000 service members and veterans nationwide, officials said.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission and 18 states, including Georgia, sued Hauppauge, New York-based Harris Jewelry, saying the company violated state and federal laws, such as the Truth in Lending Act and the Military Lending Act.
According to the lawsuit, Harris targets its “advertising, sales pitch, merchandise, pricing, and financing at active duty service members.” The lawsuit claimed that more than 90% of Harris’ sales “are to service members in credit transactions” that the company finances.
“We will not allow Georgia’s military families to be taken advantage of, and any company that seeks to do so will face the consequences,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in an announcement. “This settlement provides much-needed relief to the service men and women who fell victim to Harris Jewelry’s deceptive acts.”
According to a news release, the multistate settlement agreement requires Harris Jewelry to stop collecting more than $21.3 million in outstanding debt held by 13,426 servicemembers. Georgia officials said that includes more than $1.9 million in outstanding debt for 1,206 Georgia servicemembers.
In addition, Harris must provide nearly $12.9 million in refunds to 46,204 service members who bought protection plans, including more than $978,000 for 3,711 Georgia servicemembers. Harris Jewelry must also “vacate judgments” against 112 consumers exceeding $115,300 and delete “negative credit entries” reported to consumer reporting agencies.
According to its website, Harris closed its stores because of the COVID-19 pandemic.