CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - How much is your life worth? 19-year-old Colby James says, without him knowing it, the value put on his was $10,000. All because of a piece of jewelry he bought at a well-know retailer.
He bought a ring for his girlfriend at Kay Jewelers. He did it on store credit.
"Yeah, little did I know," said James.
The part he says he didn't know, is the financing, for the $300 dollar ring, came with a $10,000 life insurance policy. The sole beneficiary listed was Kay Jewelers.
"If you borrowed money from me, I could not get a life insurance policy on you without you acknowledging it, giving me permission to make myself the beneficiary of that policy," said James's mother Jennifer Williams. "Just none of it made sense to me."
The law requires a creditor to disclose such a policy. The borrower has to sign off on what amounts to a credit, life insurance policy.
WBTV's sister station, WMC in Memphis, Tennessee sent a producer with a hidden camera, to the very store in East Memphis where Colby bought his ring. The producer asked about options to buy with credit. The life insurance was never mentioned. Later, when asked about the policy in Colby James's name the salesperson said he had purchased Kay Jewelers' credit payment protection plan. A brochure indicates it includes "life benefits" to pay off the account if something happens to the borrower.
The company's corporate spokesperson said, "Kay Jewelers offers a number of products related to its proprietary credit program. Each product complies with applicable laws...on a state-by-state basis."
"She didn't mention (the life insurance)," said James.
James insists the salesperson never offered the payment plan brochure and didn't mention the insurance policy. Certified fraud examiner Kevin Snider says, if true, that would violate privacy laws. You can't share personal information with an insurance company without permission.
"Having your Social Security number, date of birth, your home address, work address, any other information that would be disclosed out there, without authorization or consent, when all you're doing is buying some jewelry is ridiculous," said Snider.
Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau in Charlotte says the privacy laws are the same here in the Carolinas.
He says you have to be told about policies like this and you have to agree to them.
Bartholomy says lots of creditors offer similar policies, so its is a good reminder to read the fine print to make sure you understand exactly what you are signing up for.
He also says it is important to remember you cannot be denied credit for opting out of the credit protection and the life insurance policy would be closed once the balance of the credit is paid off.