Historic photos and books sit on a desk in the sunlight - Ancestry.com

A new class action lawsuit accuses Ancestry.com of automatically renewing memberships without subscribers’ permission, in violation of California law.

The Ancestry.com class action lawsuit, which was removed to federal court this week, seeks more than $250 million in restitution for consumers.

Plaintiff Marta Carrera Chapple says she went to the Ancestry website in February to try to find information about her relatives.

According to Chapple’s complaint, she requested the site’s free trial offer, choosing the middle membership tier and entering her credit card details as required.



Chapple says she believed her credit card would be charged the monthly subscription amount of $39.99 when her 14-day free trial expired; such a transaction did indeed post Feb. 14.

However, Chapple claims that she was not aware when accepting the free trial that the defendants would enroll her in a subscription plan that automatically renewed from month to month.

The Ancestry website class action lawsuit states that additional charges of $39.99 were posted in both March and April. Chapple says if she had known the auto-renewal was going to be charged every month, she would not have submitted her credit card to begin with or, alternatively, would have canceled her Ancestry website membership in order to avoid the additional charges to her credit card. 

Consumers wishing to take advantage of Ancestry.com’s free trial offer first click a “start my free trial” button and select a membership tier, the class action lawsuit says. The site then invites the customer to click a button that says “Start FREE trial.” 

The consumer is then prompted to create an account, the Ancestry.com class action lawsuit says. That step is followed by a prompt to enter payment information, after which the consumer clicks a “Proceed to checkout” button. 



Once the payment information is submitted, the Ancestry website shows the customer an order summary and is asked to click an “Order now” button, after which the site displays a confirmation page, the class action lawsuit states. 

Family tree graphic - Ancestry.com

Chapple’s Ancestry.com class action lawsuit points out that other consumers have reported similar issues with Ancestry.com; “hundreds of customer complaints” have been posted on websites such as Yelp, the Better Business Bureau and ConsumerAffairs.

Many of the customer complaints cited in the lawsuit allege a similar experience to Chapple’s and say Ancestry.com has refused to issue refunds when the affected consumers have requested them. At least one customer claims to have canceled their membership during the trial period and is still been charged for months after the cancellation.

Another Ancestry website user said they had been charged an “annual service” fee without ever enrolling in a monthly membership plan; they had only used Ancestry.com’s DNA kit, the complaint says.



The Ancestry.com class action lawsuit claims the plaintiff suffered injury and lost money as a result of the defendant’s violations of California’s Automatic Renewal Law.

Therefore, the complaint says, “Plaintiff and Class members are entitled to restitution of all amounts that Defendants charged to Plaintiff’s and Class members’ credit cards, debit cards, or third-party payment accounts in connection with an automatic renewal membership program during the four years preceding the filing of this Complaint and continuing until Defendants’ statutory violations cease.”

Chapple’s class action lawsuit maintains that unless stopped by the Court, Ancestry.com will continue to represent that its “goods or services have characteristics that they do not have;” to advertise a product or service with the intent not to sell it as advertised; and to represent that a transaction involves rights or obligations it either does not have or that are legally prohibited. 

The defendant’s alleged failure to disclose the automatic renewal in a clear manner is injurious to consumers and is immoral, unethical and unscrupulous, the complaint says.

Chapple’s class action lawsuit proposes a Class including anyone in California who enrolled in an Ancestry.com membership program on or after Dec. 1, 2010, and was charged for the membership “within the applicable statute of limitations.” 

The plaintiff accuses Ancestry.com of violating the California Automatic Renewal Law, which is part of California’s False Advertising Law; the Consumers Legal Remedies Act; and the Unfair Competition Law.

The class action lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and court costs, restitution, pre-judgment interest and any other relief the Court deems appropriate.

Are you an Ancestry.com member? Did your membership automatically renew unexpectedly? Let us know in the comments.

The plaintiff is represented by James T. Hannink and Zach P. Dostart of Dostart Hannink & Coveney LLP. 

The Ancestry.com Auto-Renewal Class Action Lawsuit is Marta Carrera Chapple, et al. v. Ancestry.com Operations Inc., Case No. 3:20-cv-01456-LAB-DEB, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

We tell you about cash you can claim EVERY WEEK! Sign up for our free newsletter.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

97 Comments

  • Patrick Hanley September 20, 2020

    I am having problems with Ancestry’s Renewal/Upgrade/Pause procedures. They state if you do not continue the higher fees you will lose portions of your research. Now they tell me I have to cancel my account and start a new one to renew.

    I should not have to hire a lawyer to be an Ancestry member.

    Sign me up in this suit.

  • Amy Corley September 19, 2020

    Ancestry is a joke and seems to be a con artist I have been trying to login for 6 months and since I changed my phone number and the incompetent people can’t change the number told me to go to chat and waited 20 minutes and when I asked is anyone there they cut off my chat saying I was referred to corporate and I’m still not able to login. 😡

  • Lillian phaeton September 8, 2020

    OMG that happened to me and is still happening they’re still taking money out of my account help me I’d like to be added to this lawsuit

  • Mark September 2, 2020

    Free trial? I was charged 2 1/2 years – yes 30 months after I thought it was cancelled. Setup so Downs Syndrome “daughter” could find her missing father. Thought she cancelled it after no lucky within the correct period. My credit card was charge $35.00 a month for 30 months before I caught it. Seldom used card and I thought it was a netfilx or cable bill. Got a refund today of $35. when they cancelled it. Paid over $1050.00 at it wasnt used at all during the 2 1/2 years. Add me to the class action!

  • Teresa E Crosby August 27, 2020

    Yes they did. I took the free two weeks and did not expect them to automatically charge me at the end of it.

  • Amber Santos August 22, 2020

    Please add me

  • Alisa Jackson August 18, 2020

    Add me please. I signed up and paid for a 6mo. Membership. Itbauto renewed with no notice at a HIGHER rate! No recourse! No resolution! Out $149.00!!

  • Jim Hale August 14, 2020

    Yes, auto renewal and I had to call to get them to stop.

  • Maureen A. Anderton August 13, 2020

    Please add me, also.

  • Del Fowler August 12, 2020

    I also was renewed without my knowledge.. and they charge a full 6 month at one time. I sent and email and they never gave me my money back. I ended up deleting my profile completely because I was afraid they would get me again.

  • Linda Lee Brown August 7, 2020

    Please add me

  • Kathryn McGuire August 7, 2020

    I signed up for the free 14 day trial and after 2 days they charged me the $39.99 before my trial was even up i canceled right away and tje folloeing month was charged again!!!
    Add me!!

  • yvonne apelian August 6, 2020

    Please add me.

  • Jack Robinson August 6, 2020

    This is the most irritating thing I can think of right now, it happens way too often.

  • Polly Lever August 6, 2020

    Please add me. Thanks

  • carla casey August 6, 2020

    This has happened to me Many times.They even had been taking money from my boyfriends credit card without permission :-(

  • Stephanie Rice August 5, 2020

    Yes, I’d also like to be added.

  • Shari August 5, 2020

    Yes. Multiple times.

  • Rose M Parks August 5, 2020

    Yes this happened to me. Please add me.

  • Jacqueline Rosenberg August 5, 2020

    If anyone takes up this cause in NY, please add me! Not only did they continue billing me monthly fees after I cancelled that plan, but they charged it to a card to which they were only authorized to charge one annual membership!

  • Sandra Moran August 5, 2020

    Yep, happened to me. Husband signed up and it automatically renewed way after he lost interest in the site.

  • Patricia DeLancey August 5, 2020

    Yes. I was charges even tho the date on the card I used had expired…they still charged me. I could find no where on the site to opt out of auto renew. They USED to have that option!

  • Nikki Lally August 5, 2020

    Oh my gosh, yes. Please add me.

  • Jaqui Barney August 5, 2020

    Please include me, this has happened to me

  • Marietta Pugliese August 5, 2020

    I was charged, please add me.

  • carrie August 5, 2020

    this Happened to me add me please

  • PRAKASH C SHAH August 5, 2020

    Add me

  • Giovanni Stewart August 4, 2020

    Yes add myself

  • Bridget King August 4, 2020

    I was charged please add me.

  • Deborah Cunningham August 4, 2020

    Was charged even though I tried to cancel during the trial period. Please add me

  • Richie Suing August 4, 2020

    Yes I’am ancestry member but I don’t remember if auto renew. Not aware of it.

  • Angelia Wright August 4, 2020

    Happened to me. Pls add

  • Suzanne Porter August 4, 2020

    Happens every year

  • marc palmer August 4, 2020

    I also had this happen. I paid for a year as I figured that that was how long I needed it for to research my heritage. When that year passed, I thought that it was done. I had already gone on to a different site that was considerably cheaper and just as robust. Then I see a billing on my credit card for renew. I called and was told that I could opt out for the next year, but not for that year. I did that then have never been nor plan to go back.

  • Susan Leininger August 4, 2020

    I was charged for months without realizing that the payments were continuing. I was paying through my Apple account, and didn’t realize the charges went through like that. I though I had cancelled.

  • John Frasse August 4, 2020

    I joined up for the free trial and before I knew it I was being charged the whole amount. I called and cancelled but no refund was provided.

  • Katherine L Wrenfro August 4, 2020

    I am a victim of this with Ancestry, oh please add me!

  • Jennifer Rea Lilla August 4, 2020

    Add me

  • Tracy Kvies August 4, 2020

    Called to tell them to cancel but time consuming and not always done Please add me!

  • kenneth stolte August 4, 2020

    They always done this without notice

    • Celestine Roberson August 4, 2020

      ADD ME

    • Walter Montgomery August 4, 2020

      ADD ME

  • Bethany Ghiloni August 4, 2020

    Add

  • Gregory A. Maduros August 4, 2020

    I was automatically enrolled and found it out when I was checking my bank statement. I didn’t enroll in any free trials or subscriptions. I only did the initial DNA test which happened at least a year before.

    • Lydia G Flowers August 4, 2020

      Add me

  • Gil Roberts August 4, 2020

    yes, same issue

  • Donna Moore August 4, 2020

    They did this to me as well took awhle to get it changed. Add me please

  • Richard Wasner August 4, 2020

    yes that pulled that on me, too. Forced me to call them to rectify it.

  • MELINDA ASH August 4, 2020

    ADD ME

  • Elizabeth Raiford August 4, 2020

    Yes they did it to me to.
    I had to call them to get my money back

  • Rocquelle Gunter August 4, 2020

    I caught them but they tried. Add me.

  • CARL GUNTER August 4, 2020

    They tried to. Add me.

  • Joan Dorfman August 4, 2020

    Of course, they pulled this. Please add.

  • kimm miller August 4, 2020

    Please add me

  • Steven Copeland August 4, 2020

    Yes this happened to me please add me

  • Freda Covington August 4, 2020

    Yes, they did it to me and I told them they should have asked me. Please include me-Thanks.

  • alyssa c August 4, 2020

    same thing happened to me

  • SHANTI DAVIS August 4, 2020

    Please add me!! I’ve recently asked them to cancel my subscription multiple times, and they’ve still charged me.

  • Judith Doerges August 4, 2020

    Please add me.

  • Peter Duff August 4, 2020

    Please add me

  • Jocelaine Jean August 4, 2020

    Add me they did it to me and I threatened them and said I will tell my bank it’s fraud I thought it was only me and look at this can you imagine.Wow

  • JoAnne Jackson August 4, 2020

    Add me. Yes.

  • David J Ford August 4, 2020

    Add me

  • Cathy Goodman August 4, 2020

    Omg this JUST HAPPENED TO ME!!!
    Please add me

  • phelia m gaines August 4, 2020

    Hi my name is Phelia Gaines.

    And yes Ancestry has done that to me,

    A lot of times.

    So please ADD ME.

  • Holmes August 4, 2020

    Please add me

  • Stephanie Smith August 4, 2020

    Please add me

  • Nadine Dominguez August 4, 2020

    Please add me I tried the trial period and Ancestry charged me after the trial period with out notifications of my trial period was over. When I called to cancel they didn’t want to cancel and still charged me.

    They are a rip off.

  • Heather hannah August 4, 2020

    This happened to me too

  • Cathy Palmer August 4, 2020

    My 6 month subscription renewed on its own when I had gone through and completed the necessary steps to not have that happen.

  • Willie Stokes August 4, 2020

    Please add me

  • Pam grant August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • Melanie Pendleton August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • Donna Dunham August 4, 2020

    I subscribed for a year and was surprised to see the automatic renewal the next year on my bank statement.

  • Maria August 4, 2020

    Add me pls. This just happened to me this year.

  • Penny August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • Patricia Reid August 4, 2020

    Add me

  • RAQUEL LYONS August 4, 2020

    Add me to the list. Same thing happened to me.

  • Myrtle Bradley August 4, 2020

    I’m in Texas, they got me too. Plus they make it difficult to cancel.

  • Kimberly McCormack August 4, 2020

    Yes add me .I paid for one month then cancelled a few days later and they still charged my bank for another month after I cancelled it.

  • Latonia Mclaurine August 4, 2020

    I only signed up for trial and ended up with a annual subscription

  • James Higgins August 4, 2020

    Add me

  • Stanley Kubinski August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • joyce sarno August 4, 2020

    please add me. i was told that the renewal price was not refundable, but i could cancel at the end of the renewal. i argued that i was never informed of the renewal, i only found out when it showed on a credit card. i was denied a refund. i said my credit card would be asked to fight the charge and i would contact my attorney general about their unlawul practice. after a few calls, i finally got the charge removed from my credit card. had i not pushed the issue so defiantly, i would have not recieved that.

  • Monique Salerno August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • Donna Alvarez August 4, 2020

    ADD ME

  • Colleen Dalli August 4, 2020

    add me

  • Kelli Bartlett August 4, 2020

    Oh definitely add me. I had such a hard time canceling my membership and yet they still charged me several months afterwards. I spent hours of my time and lost a couple hundred dollars to these people. I wound up having to cancel my credit card and get a new one to get it to stop

  • Elizabeth Higbie August 4, 2020

    Add me please

  • Deidra Bryant August 3, 2020

    Add me please

  • Priscilla G August 3, 2020

    I was charged a renewal that I was not aware of either and was not reimbursed.

    Please add me.

  • David L. Santiago August 2, 2020

    Please add me

  • Rebecca Mead August 2, 2020

    My Ancestry membership Was automatically renewed at the highest tier without prior notice. In the past I have received emails notifying me when my subscription expired and alerting me to auto-renewal. Not this time. I wouldn’t have known had they not used an inactive credit card.

  • Diane August 2, 2020

    Not only do they automatically renew, they renew at the highest level. The Ancestry agent told me I had to cancel my membership on the date of my renewal, then start a new subscription at a lower level if I didn’t want the highest level of membership.

  • Amy Hood August 2, 2020

    I can provide screen shots and emails asking them to cancel

  • Harriett J Kahan August 1, 2020

    Keep me informed

  • WYLMARYE July 31, 2020

    Please add me

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts