Customers are on the lookout for amazing deals from online discount retailer Temu. Nevertheless, a class-action lawsuit alleges that Temu is receiving significant benefits, while shoppers are frequently unaware of the company’s data collection and sharing practices.
The complaint was filed in Illinois in November by the Hagens Berman law firm on behalf of seven named plaintiffs from Illinois, California, Massachusetts, and Virginia, as well as other individuals in similar situations.
The lawsuit claims that Temu is infringing on its customers’s privacy rights by gathering personal information and employing questionable methods to obtain that data.
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that various experts, including their own independent experts, have thoroughly examined the Temu app. According to their findings, the app contains features that are specifically designed to carry out harmful activities, such as spreading malware and spyware on users’ devices. Additionally, they have determined that Temu has provided misleading information to users regarding the way it handles their data.
“It seems to be intentional,” remarked Jeannie Evans, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. In the complaint, Evans expressed concern over Temu’s excessive requests for permissions, stating that they were unnecessary for an online shopping app.
The complaint states that the permissions granted involve access to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network information, as well as biometric data such as fingerprints.
In September 2023, another class-action lawsuit was filed in New York State on behalf of plaintiff Eric Hu and others. The lawsuit alleges that Temu collected customers’ private information and failed to maintain its security.
The lawsuit filed by Hu v. Temu et al. claims that the defendant did not meet security standards, and as a result, customers’ financial information was compromised. It is alleged that the defendant prioritized cost-cutting over implementing adequate security measures that could have prevented or minimized the breach.
Many customers have reported to the Better Business Bureau about their credit card and bank information being sold or leaked after using those accounts on Temu, according to the complaint.
Concerns from Our Valued Customers
Miguel Koenig, hailing from Michigan, is not affiliated with either of the class-action lawsuits. However, he did make contact following the two investigators’ coverage of a Better Business Bureau (BBB) advisory regarding Temu in September 2023.
During that period, the BBB reported that Temu, a Chinese company, was alerting shoppers about customer complaints and privacy concerns. In the company’s first 14 months of operation, the BBB had received a total of 900 complaints.
Koenig mentioned that he downloaded the Temu app, created an account, and shared his bank routing information to facilitate future purchases. According to him, this would eliminate the need to repeatedly enter debit card details.
He purchased multiple items for approximately $45.
Later, he mentioned that he observed something out of the ordinary. He presented the email he had sent to Temu regarding the unexpected charges that appeared on his bank account.
“There were approximately 17 different charges, totaling around $2,300, that were unaccounted for,” Koenig stated.
According to him, he vigorously contested those charges with his bank.
Koenig also expressed frustration with the overwhelming number of emails received from various sources, unrelated to Temu, regarding credit offers.
“I mean, every day I receive a letter saying, ‘You just got approved,’ and I never signed up for anything,” he stated.
According to attorney Jeannie Evans, these issues are quite common.
“We have spoken with numerous members of the Temu platform, and we have received similar reports,” Evans stated.
In the class-action lawsuit, Evans’ firm explains their perspective on customer issues that may arise when shoppers download the app
In particular, Evans pointed out the potential risks associated with this technology. He highlighted the possibility of unauthorized access to the camera and microphone on a user’s phone, which could potentially collect sensitive biometric information such as face images and voice prints.
Response from Temu
Temu launched in September 2022 and invested heavily in advertising during this year’s Super Bowl. It is affiliated with PDD Holdings.
“We strongly reject the accusations and are fully committed to vigorously defending ourselves against these baseless lawsuits. The complaints echo a report released by a short-seller named Grizzly Research, which seems to have the clear motive of spreading misinformation in order to manipulate Temu’s stock price. The report even includes a disclaimer stating that its contents are not statements of fact.
“Rest assured, we prioritize the privacy and security of our customers’ data. It is our commitment to never sell any customer data to third parties.”