Expansive jewelry retailer agrees to $11 million in fines from consumer agency, NY state

An Ohio-based jewelry retailer – which includes among its name brands some of the most well-known stores across the nation – has agreed to a $10 million civil money penalty to federal authorities and a $1 million penalty to New York state for opening credit-card accounts without customer consent and other actions, the federal consumer financial watchdog said Wednesday.

In a release, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the state of New York said they had settled claims against Sterling Jewelers, Inc., of Akron, Ohio, for a variety of charges, including: opening store credit-card accounts without customer consent; enrolling customers in payment-protection insurance without their consent; and misrepresenting to consumers the financing terms associated with the credit-card accounts.

CFPB said it also found that Sterling violated the Truth in Lending Act by signing up customers for credit-card accounts without having received an oral or written request or application from them. Additionally, New York state found that the retailer violated provisions of state law.

The agency and the state said that, in addition to the total $11 million in penalties, the company has agreed to injunctive relief to stop the “continuation of the claimed illegal conduct.”

Based in Akron, Ohio, Sterling is a wholly owned subsidiary of Signet Jewelers Limited, the largest specialty-jewelry retailer in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, CFPB said. The company operates more than 1,500 jewelry stores across the country, the consumer agency said, under several names including: Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria of Jewelry, JB Robinson Jewelers, Marks & Morgan Jewelers, Belden Jewelers, Goodman Jewelers, LeRoy’s Jewelers, Osterman Jewelers, Rogers Jewelers, Shaw’s Jewelers, and Weisfield Jewelers.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Settles Claims with Sterling Jewelers, Inc.