A national company has reached an agreement with Iowa and 35 other states to stop offering teachers gift cards as an incentive to have students fill out surveys. Bill Brauch of the Attorney General’s Office says Educational Research Center of America, has approved the agreement to settle a lawsuit.
Brauch says the company is one of several that collect information from students and then turn around and sell the information. The can sell the information to colleges, or to credit card companies, or companies selling magazine subscriptions.
Brauch says the states brought the lawsuit to gain more accountability from the company. He says the companies don’t collect financial information such as Social Security numbers, but he says they feel if the students want to receive solicitations, that should be a know choice on their part. Brauch says part of the settlement requires the company to be clear that students don’t have to complete the forms.
Brauch says it ensures that parents get advanced notice, and they can let the child refuse to fill out the survey. Brauch says they can’t release the exact number of Iowa students who may’ve filled out the surveys.
He says they have some information on Iowa students, but the agreement with the company requires them to keep it confidential. Brauch says nationwide there are thousands of students who fill out such surveys.
The New Jersey-based company did not admit to any wrongdoing, but did agree to pay the states $200,000 for the costs to investigate the case.