Boise resident William Dougall says he’s not fanatic about watching or renting videos, but he does enjoy picking up a video now and then.
“I always pay cash,” he says of the rentals. “I can’t see using a card for a $2 rental.”
He was a member of the new defunct Hollywood Video, a video rental store that fell by the wayside about three years ago because of the changing market.
Since that time, the company’s past due accounts were sold to a collection agency in Texas.
Former Hollywood Video customers throughout the region are receiving collection calls and notices from Universal Fidelity LP regarding past-due movie rentals and fees associated with unreturned movies.
“I was astounded that I would be getting a bill,” Dougall says. “I went through the list, and could remember the movies, but had returned them all, on time!”
Dougall’s bill lists DVD rentals dating back to 2009. Other complaints BBB has heard say the fees are excessive and the debts are unfounded. Some former customers fear that false information may be submitted to a credit reporting bureau and may affect their credit rating.
In a 2011 settlement, similar allegations were brought against National Credit Solutions (NCS) and Credit Control Services, collection agencies which were initially contracted by Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery after the companies filed bankruptcy in 2010.
While collection companies are within their legal rights to collect legitimate debts, Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region urges consumers to pause before paying:
Get proof of balances due to unreturned movies or unpaid late fees.
Request written proof of debts:
By law, collection agencies must provide validation notices within five days of contacting consumers about debts.
If calls inaccurately claim unreturned rentals: Video stores often do not provide return receipts, so write down all of the details: movie names, video store locations and return dates.
If old late fees were already paid: Try to locate documentation such as receipts, old check records, and credit card or bank statements.
· Contest invalid debts: Contact any involved parties to clear up discrepancies. Contact the location: If it is a closed branch or franchise, try contacting the corporate headquarters to find out if they can address account problems. Be prepared to provide all relevant information. Consumers with complaints on Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery can email email@example.com.
· Communicate with debt collectors: Write letters to collection agencies; dispute charges, state your case and include supporting documentation. Send letters via certified mail with return receipts.
· Check credit reports: Visit annualcreditreport.com to review credit reports on a yearly basis. Dispute false debts with the three major credit bureaus.
If issues are not resolved, file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov, Better Business Bureau at bbb.org, and the state Attorney General's office. Visit BBB's site for more tips on debt collectors.
Details on the reverse side of the Universal Fidelity Confidential Message details procedures individuals must follow to protest or dispute the charges.