ST. PAUL - Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch filed a lawsuit against Fleet Mortgage Inc. on Thursday that claims the company actively participated in deceptive telemarketing programs aimed at its own customers.

The suit charges that the FleetBoston Financial Corp. unit shared its customers' home mortgage account numbers, contact numbers, and other personal information with telemarketing companies.

The telemarketers sold membership organizations that purportedly offered discounts on and coupons for services ranging from car maintenance to legal fees, the suit charges. It also says Fleet and its business partners, the telemarketing firms, led consumers to believe that they were agreeing to free trials in a membership club.

Instead, according to the complaint, "Fleet bills the customer's mortgage account for the club unless the customer affirmatively acts to cancel within 30 days." The charges appear without any written consent from the homeowner, Mr. Hatch added, and Fleet retains a percentage of the sales as profits.

Mr. Hatch said the arrangement violates the company's own privacy policy, which states: "We recognize that one of our most important assets is our customers' trust. … We share the minimum amount of information necessary for that company to offer its product or service."

The suit, which was filed in Hennepin County District Court, seeks an injunction, restitution to consumers, and other forms of relief under Minnesota consumer protection laws.

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