Rent-to-own giant Aaron's is being sued in Georgia and California for allegedly spying on customers, court papers say.
Lawsuits have been filed recently that are similar to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2011 in Pennsylvania, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.
The lawsuits allege that Aaron's franchises installed software on laptops and computers it rented to help it recover equipment that might not be returned.
But customers say they were unaware the software existed and that it also allowed the company to steal private information, including passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers and personal documents, including, at times, intimate photographs.
The software was created by Designerware LLC, a company in Pennsylvania that has declared bankruptcy, the newspaper said.
Aaron's said it would "vigorously defend itself" from the allegations. The software had nothing to do with Aaron's, although it may have been installed at various independently owned franchise locations, the company said.
"Aaron's, Inc. respects our customers' privacy. Not one of our 1,300-plus company-operated stores has used PC Rental Agent or any other product developed by Designerware LLC," Aaron's said in a statement.
"The referenced Designerware emails were caused by actions taken by the certain franchisees, not Aaron's, Inc.," the statement said.
But attorney Maury Herman, who has filed several of the lawsuits, said that Aaron's management knew of the software installations and did nothing to stop it.
"Even if they felt there was a reason to activate (the software), it would be absolutely illegal because they never told their customers it existed," Herman said.