SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, July 31, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced the filing of a civil false advertising case against Angie’s List, Inc. for making false and misleading statements on its website and in television ads in violation of California law.

“We embrace innovative businesses, but it is imperative that consumers are not misled,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “It is a matter of public safety that consumers are provided accurate information, especially when they are deciding who to let into their homes.”

The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court notes, “Beginning on an unknown date that occurred on or after June 2013 and continuing within the period of the respective statues of limitations for the claims in this lawsuit and through today, Angie’s List has made false and misleading representations on its website that are likely to deceive consumers into believing Angie’s List has background-checked the people coming into their homes.”

According to the complaint, Angie’s List indicates statements on its site, smartphone app, and TV ads that are misleading to consumers into believing that Angie’s List has background-checked the people coming into their homes. That is not accurate, and the company only background-checks the “principal/owner or relevant manager” of some businesses even though it tells consumers viewing it’s “how-it-works” webpage that, “Our Angie’s List Super Service Award winning providers, as well as all advertising companies, have been background checked.” Angie’s List’s television ad informs consumers, “Annual background checks, another reason to get Angie’s List for your home.”

Nothing on the company’s homepage corrects the misleading message that Angie’s List background-checks the people coming into consumers’ homes. None of the four “Frequently Asked Questions” listed prominently at the bottom of the “how-it-works” webpage even discussed background checks.

The suit is seeking a permanent injunction requiring Angie’s List to stop violating California law. It seeks civil penalties for these unlawful business acts and practices, and restitution.