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The Bottom Line
 
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Hollywood Video Debt Collection

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:17 PM EDT
The chain may be history, but Hollywood Video is still having some people recollecting their rentals.
        
A new Bottom Line Alert, after a viewer tipped off CBS 6's Dori Marlin that another company is going after former customers of the stores, trying to collect on late fees that might not be legit.  This company would not be the first to do so.

Hollywood Video had several Capital Region locations, but filed for bankruptcy and closed its stores in 2010.

So when Donna Healy of Rexford got a letter in the mail in 2012, she knew that something didn't seem right.

"My first thought was, what the heck is this?" she tells Dori.  "Why did they take so long to contact me?"

The letter was from a company called Universal Fidelity LP, claiming to be a debt collector for Hollywood Video.  It stated she had an amount due of $19.16 on a DVD she'd rented in February of 2010.

"I know I returned this on time," Healy said, "this bill is not legitimate."

The letter offered ways to pay by phone, by mail, or online.

Healy called to say that she refused to pay, and after trying for awhile, she spoke to a woman who said the case would be closed.

Turns out though, Healy's not the only one being hit up by the company on behalf of Hollywood.

In an online search for Universal Fidelity, Dori found dozens upon dozens of complaints, just in the last few months.  All came from people saying they, too, received the letter - and found it either fraudulent or suspicious.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office confirms for Dori - they've received a number of complaints, as well.

But this actually is not the first time that his office has handled similar Hollywood Video complaints.

Last year, it was a different debt collector, doing the very same thing: going after former customers of the stores, claiming they owed late fees on videos they'd rented.

At the time, Tom Caifa of Latham found out the hard way about National Credit Solutions, when he tried to take out a loan.

"She said, 'You're in collections for something.'  And I was totally, besides being mortified, I was totally astonished," Caifa said.  "I just couldn't believe it.  So I looked at it, it said National Credit Solutions was looking for me for a late charge from Hollywood Video."

As a part of its settlement with National Credit Solutions, a spokesperson with the AG's office tells Dori, significant restrictions were placed on future debt collections on Hollywood Video accounts - but the settlement did not prohibit collection activity.

That means companies like it, or Univeral Fidelity, or any others - can continue to try to collect.

So if you do receive one of the letters, what's The Bottom Line?

Donna Healy offered this advice:  "Go with your gut.  Something doesn't look right, you don't recognize the company, you know in your heart that it's not owed - don't necessarily ignore it - but do your research."

The AG's office also tells Dori, if you've received such a letter about the Hollywood Video late fees, and you really don't think you owe anything, then you should file a complaint.  To do that, click here.

Hollywood Video Debt Collection


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