Aaron's Inc. Sued Over Computer Spyware Allegations

I have been following the news about the lawsuit involving National retailer Aaron’s Inc. and its franchisees who allegedly used spyware to secretly monitor “rent-to-own” computer customers’ private and personal electronic communications in violation of federal privacy and technology laws. I returned again and again to webcamlawsuit.com to see if there were any updates. Imagine my surprise when one day the website was no longer live. What had happened? Apparently the site's domain had expired and the original owners did not renew it. Time passed and one day I was surprised to discover the domain was available for purchase. I decided to buy it with the goal of recreating as much of its original content as possible from its archived pages. I did not want someone else to purchase the domain and re-purpose the site for something that had nothing in common with the original website

I find it ironic that I work as part of a team that does custom software development for companies and organizations with higher-than-usual security and privacy concerns such as in the field of medicine. I do a lot of custom software development for my company's clients with my specialty as one of the company's certified Salesforce consultants. One of the most exciting areas is happening in applied healthcare data analytics. What is known in the medical scene as "Big Data Healthcare" is going to revolutionize the entire healthcare industry because access to a larger quantity of personal healthcare data plus an improved ability to analyze these data sets can influence how consumers shop for healthcare, how healthcare is delivered, and even the kind of care and medicine consumers receive. Although the use of healthcare big data to improve patient care and healthcare deliverables is still in its inception, companies in the health field marketplace are clamoring for custom software. Salesforce recognized the need and the now have a Salesforce Health Cloud platform. It certainly has made my job easier. Security and privcy issues have always been paramount in the health care market. Imagine if a medical facility had spyware on its computors such as is alleged in this lawsuit? Here I am creating code to protect privacy whereas national retailer Aaron’s Inc. and its franchisees allegedly used spyware to violate an individual's privacy.

I believe the original information regarding this lawsuit is important enough to repost as much of it as possible. The large class action lawsuit is still winding its way through the courts. Companies like Aaron’s Inc. and its franchisees should be held accountable for their actions.

How does it feel to have a stranger in your house spying on your every move from a hidden camera on your computer?

If You Have An Aaron's, Inc Computer
Contact Us Now For A Free Case Evaluation

Don't laugh. It's no joke. Aaron's, Inc has rented thousands of rent-to-own computers throughout the U.S. equipped with tracking software and HIDDEN CAMERAS! What an incredible breach of trust and invasion of your privacy. It's against the law. It's certainly grounds for a lawsuit. If you have an Aaron's, Inc computer, they know what you're looking at on the Internet. They even know what you look like. Because they can photograph you in the privacy of your home. And we think other companies that rent computers may have the same device installed on their rent-to-own computers, so we'll be glad to hear from anyone who rents a computer and is concerned that it may have spying software and hardware installed on it. Unbelievable!


  • Your trust has been broken.
  • You didn't sign up to be spied upon.
  • And you may deserve compensation.

The law firms of Jamieson & Robinson, Herman Gerel, The Spence Law Firm, and Levin, Fishbein, Sedran and Berman have joined to form one of the largest plaintiff's lawyer groups in the nation, specifically to hold Aaron's, Inc accountable for violating your privacy.  We're going to do everything humanly possible to get you the compensation you deserve.  And give you back your privacy.


  • Is Aaron's, Inc able to take a picture of me with the camera mounted on my computer?
  • Yes.  The device they installed on many computers can remotely activate the webcam, allowing Aaron's, Inc to take a picture of you and anyone near your computer, even your children.
  • What about my private webcam images?
  • Yes.  They would be able to intercept private webcam images.
  • I pay my bills on my computer.  Could they have captured my private banking information?
  • Unfortunately, yes.  The software they installed on many of the computers they retailed is capable of capturing screen shots and all key stroke information on your computer.
  • Can they legally spy on me and my private information without telling me?
  • No.  They should have disclosed to consumers that the computers they were paying for were loaded with spy cameras and spy software.
  • Isn't what they did against the law?
  • Yes.  It is a "common law invasion of privacy" and a violation of Federal Law, and it certainly is grounds for a civil lawsuit.
  • How do I find out if they're watching me?
  • Call us now at 1-800-791-7599.  We can help you figure out if they've been spying on you.
  • This really makes me mad.  What can I do?
  • Call or email us now.  1-800-791-7599.  If Aaron's, Inc has been spying on you, we can demand compensation for this amazingly brazen breech of privacy.

The NEWS RE: Brian Byrd and Crystal Byrd, et al., v. Aaron’s Inc., et al. Lawsuit


According to Jamieson & Robinson and Co-Counsel

CASPER, Wyo., May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- National retailer Aaron’s Inc. and its franchisees use spyware to secretly monitor “rent-to-own” computer customers’ private and personal electronic communications in violation of federal privacy and technology laws, a Wyoming couple alleged today in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Brian Byrd and Crystal Byrd, of Casper, Wyo., allege the “rent-to-own” laptop computer they paid off ahead of schedule in October 2010 was mistakenly listed in default by Aaron’s. The lawsuit asserts that an Aaron’s representative wrongly appeared at the Byrd’s home on Dec. 22, 2010 to repossess the computer and showed the family an unauthorized web-camera image of Brian Byrd using the computer at home. A subsequent investigation by local law enforcement confirmed the electronic surveillance by Aaron’s management, the lawsuit alleges.

The Byrds are represented by Jamieson & Robinson, LLC, of Casper, Wyo.; HermanGerel LLP, of Atlanta; The Spence Law Firm, of Jackson, Wyo.; and Levin, Fishbein, Sedran and Berman, of Philadelphia.

The defendants include Aaron’s Inc., of Atlanta, Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Aaron’s Sales and leasing; and DesignerWare, LLC, of North East, Pa.

According to the Complaint, “It has been the practice and policy of the Aaron’s Defendants to conceal from their customers their ability to remotely access, intercept and monitor customers’ private, personal electronic communications, information, screen shots, keystrokes or images captured on webcams and to further disclose to consumers exactly the kinds of private information and images that can be and were routinely collected, transmitted and stored.”

The legal team for the Byrds will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to obtain injunctive relief and damages for affected Aaron’s customers who have rented, leased, or leased >with an option to buy, personal computers and/ or laptop computers.

The case is “Brian Byrd and Crystal Byrd, et al., v. Aaron’s Inc., et al.,” Civil No. [xxxxxxx] in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Consumers seeking more information about the litigation may call 800-791-7599 or send an email to inquiries@hermangerel.com. The web site for the lawsuit is at www.webcamlawsuit.com.

Attorney Contacts: John H. Robinson, Jamieson & Robinson, 307-235-3575; and Christopher V. Tisi, Herman Gerel LLP, 404-880-9500.

Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Jamieson & Robinson LLC, 281-

703-6000, info@powersmediaworks.com

Jamieson & Robinson
Herman Gerel, LLP
The Spence Law Firm 
Levin, Fishbein, Sedran and Berman

The content on this page was taken from the archived version of the site capturedon May 15, 2011 as well as other sources.

UPDATE on the Lawsuits

The FTC said Aaron’s “knowingly played a direct and vital role in its franchisees’ installation and use of software” to secretly collect data from customers. The company which is one of the nation’s largest rental businesses with 1,880 locations in 48 states not only stored the captured data on its servers,but also shared the collected information with franchisees.

Aaron’s settled with the FTC on October 22, 2013 without admitting or denying the allegations.

The FTC settlement comes as Aaron’s lawyers continue to defend the company against at least four class-action lawsuits over the spying. These class action lawsuits involve thousands of plaintiffs. One of the biggest suits, involving at least 900 plaintiffs is Byrd vs. Aaron’s Inc. The lawyers for the plaintiffs claim that hundreds of thousands of screen shots, logins, images, and computer serial numbers were illegally obtained between 2008 and 2011 and that Aaron’s was heavily involved with Aspen Way’s use of the spying software.  Not only did Aaron’s trained Aspen Way’s staff to use PC Rental Agent, they actively promoted the program, allowing Aspen Way to use Aaron’s intranet to access the spyware. Arron’s laywers are saying that the software was included on laptops and desktops so Aaron’s and its franchisees could recover unreturned computer equipment. It was not meant for spying.

Although the FTC agreement prevents Aaron’s from using information it obtained for any type of debt, money or property collection, it did not include any monetary damages. However, according to  a FTC spokesman, if there are violations following the settlement, it could cost the company up to $16,000 per infraction.

Aaron’s may have settled with the FTC on charges that it knowingly spied on customers, but there are still four class-action lawsuits, involving thousands of plaintiffs, which have not yet been resolved as of October 2013.

In June 2015 a Georgia federal judge allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed against the furniture rental company Aaron’s Inc. of using rental computers to secretly survey users without their knowledge.

The case is “Brian Byrd and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania "abused its discretion" in February 2014 when it ruled against class certification for the claims of Crystal and Brian Byrd, of Casper, Wyo., and other affected consumers. As of April 2015, the case is "Crystal Byrd, et al., v. Aaron's Inc., et al.," No. 14-3050 will go forward because of a federal appellate court's ruling.


More Background On This Case

Aaron's Inc., a national rent-to-own retailer, has been involved in several legal controversies over its use of spyware on rented computers. These computers, rented out to customers, allegedly had software installed that could track keystrokes, capture screenshots, and even take webcam photos without the customer's consent or knowledge.

A major case against Aaron's Inc. began when a couple, Brian and Crystal Byrd, discovered they were being monitored after an Aaron’s representative showed them a webcam photo taken without their consent. This discovery led to a lawsuit accusing Aaron’s and its franchisee, Aspen Way Enterprises, of spying on customers. The court found that Aspen Way did use the software to track down lost or stolen computers, but it was also used to collect other information, which was deemed an "unreasonable intrusion" into customers' privacy.

The case has seen various legal developments over the years. In 2013, Aaron's settled charges with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), agreeing to stop using monitoring technology without consumer consent. This settlement did not involve an admission of guilt but prohibited Aaron's from using the software to collect data surreptitiously​.

Further legal challenges include a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of nearly 50,000 U.S. customers, suggesting widespread privacy violations. Additionally, in California, Aaron's reached a $28.4 million settlement to resolve allegations of violating consumer protection and privacy laws, including the unauthorized installation of spyware on rental laptops, which triggered penalties and restitution for affected consumers​.

Despite various court rulings and settlements, the legal battles have highlighted significant concerns regarding privacy, consumer rights, and the responsibilities of rental companies in handling technology that can intrude into private lives. These cases serve as a critical reminder of the importance of transparency and consumer consent in the use of monitoring technologies.


Press & Media Coverage

The legal issues surrounding Aaron's Inc. and its use of spyware on rental computers have garnered significant press and media coverage over the years. Here’s an overview of how the story has been reported:

  1. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Settlement: In 2013, Aaron’s settled with the FTC, which was widely reported in national news outlets. This coverage highlighted the agreement that prohibited Aaron's from using monitoring technology without consumer consent, emphasizing the implications for privacy and consumer protection. This was reported as a critical development in safeguarding consumer rights against unauthorized surveillance technologies​.

  2. Continued Legal Battles: Media outlets like Top Class Actions and PogoWasRight.org have provided detailed coverage on the ongoing class action lawsuits, discussing various legal proceedings and court decisions. These reports have delved into the legal arguments, the roles of different defendants, and the implications of the courts' rulings, which have sometimes allowed the lawsuits to proceed despite numerous legal challenges. These updates have kept the public informed about the status of the lawsuits and the broader legal standards concerning privacy.

  3. Local and National News: Local news sources, particularly in states where significant court decisions or settlements occurred, such as California and Georgia, have followed the story closely. For instance, the $28.4 million settlement with the state of California was covered by local news channels, discussing both the privacy violations and the financial impacts on Aaron's business practices. This settlement was significant enough to draw attention to the need for stricter oversight of rental purchase agreements and consumer electronics privacy​​.

  4. Legal and Consumer Advocacy Discussions: Platforms like the ABA Journal have explored the broader legal and ethical questions raised by the Aaron's cases. These discussions often consider the balance between business interests and consumer rights, highlighting how such cases shape legal precedents in consumer privacy law​​.

The coverage has not only informed the public but also influenced consumer perceptions of privacy, leading to a greater awareness of the rights consumers have regarding the electronic devices they rent or purchase.


Cultural & Social Significance

The Aaron's Inc. spyware scandal has significant cultural and social implications, reflecting broader concerns about privacy, technology, and consumer rights that resonate deeply in today's digital society. Here’s a deeper look into its cultural and social significance:

  1. Privacy Concerns in the Digital Age: The case highlighted the vulnerabilities consumers face in the digital era, where personal information can be accessed and misused by corporations. This scandal underscored the need for greater transparency and consumer protections, particularly regarding the use of technology that can invade personal privacy. It serves as a cautionary tale about the potential for technology to be used in ways that infringe on individual rights, amplifying ongoing societal debates about privacy versus security.

  2. Consumer Trust and Corporate Responsibility: The backlash against Aaron’s Inc. illustrates the crucial role of trust in consumer-business relationships. The revelation that a trusted business was monitoring customers without their knowledge damaged public trust not only in Aaron's but in the rent-to-own industry as a whole. This case has forced companies to reconsider their practices and emphasize ethical behavior and compliance with privacy laws as core components of their business models.

  3. Legal and Ethical Discussions: The incident spurred discussions in legal and ethical spheres about the boundaries of corporate surveillance. It brought attention to the legal frameworks governing consumer privacy and how they are enforced, influencing legal scholars and policymakers. The discussions often focus on the balance between leveraging technology for business operations and respecting consumer privacy rights, contributing to broader dialogues about updating privacy laws to better address modern technological capabilities.

  4. Public Awareness and Advocacy: The widespread media coverage and the subsequent public outcry raised awareness about consumer rights and the importance of informed consent when it comes to privacy. It has empowered consumers to demand more control over their personal data and fostered a more informed public that is wary of privacy terms in service agreements. This has also energized advocacy groups to push for stronger consumer protection laws and better enforcement against privacy infringements.

  5. Impact on Business Practices: The scandal has led to a reevaluation of business practices across industries, particularly those involving rental and leasing services where companies provide physical products that have the capability to monitor user behavior. Businesses are now more cautious about the privacy implications of their technologies, and many have implemented stricter privacy controls and clearer disclosures to avoid similar backlashes.

In summary, the Aaron’s Inc. case has left a lasting impact on society by highlighting the importance of privacy, trust, and ethical conduct in the digital age. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges and responsibilities facing businesses and regulators in ensuring that technology serves to enhance, rather than compromise, the rights of individuals.