Rent-A-Center Consumer Fraud & Harassment Issues Nationwide
Regulations are in place precisely so that consumers are protected from harassment from various industries. However, when it comes to the rent-to-own industry, things can get tricky: companies will sometimes try to operate outside of consumer protection laws.
One such issue was recently highlighted in an article by NerdWallet, highlighting the many headaches brought about by Rent-A-Center around the country, including here in Florida.
How It Works
The company works by renting out household goods such as washers and dryers, TVs, couches, etc. weekly or monthly, supposedly allowing customers to terminate their leases at any time and return the goods; or otherwise continue to pay until they officially own the items. It has more than 2,400 stores, many of them located near military bases and low-income neighborhoods. The company does not require a credit check.
Another option with the company is for other companies like Acceptance Now to buy it for the consumer and lease it back to them, which them relieves the actual furniture store that it originated from any associated disputes.
As the largest rent-to-own merchandise company, thousands of people do business with Rent-A-Center every year, but now many of them are suffering because of various harassment issues, including customers who have paid what they owe but still had black marks on their credit reports. They’ve been pursued by debt collectors after settling their rental accounts, with one consumer even having her front door kicked in after falling behind on making payments on a laptop. Essentially, even one missed or late payment—even if it is late by a few hours or a day—can trigger an extremely aggressive response or a series of record-keeping mistakes that can cause a lifetime of headaches. Once many customers catch up, their accounts are not properly credited, in spite of their many attempts to contact both the company and credit bureaus. Company representatives will reportedly show up at the customer’s house, leave threatening notes, and tell customers that they will pursue theft charges.
Many are now not only filing complaints with federal and state consumer protection watchdog agencies, but also lawsuits to try and recover wrecked credit scores and finances due to the company’s activities. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were close to 3,000 complaints filed about Rent-A-Center and Acceptance Now just between January 2016 and June 2017. All first attempted, unsuccessfully, to get Rent-A-Center to correct its records.
Debt Collector, Shareholder & State Litigation
Even some of the debt collectors who took over Rent-A-Center’s past due accounts are having to take legal action against the company because they found that a third of the consumers paid off their accounts. However, the company’s documents fail to reflect the actual payments. Rent-A-Center’s own shareholders filed a lawsuit against the company months ago due to shoddy record-keeping.
The state of Washington even filed a lawsuit against the company in 2009, citing abusive collection practices and other illegal activity.
Let Us Help You Today
There are other serious issues with rent-to-own companies like this, especially when you look at the pricing of the goods: for example, while one item might sell for $150 on the market, it ends up costing more than five times that amount (or $780) if purchased via a one-year contract from Rent-A-Center.
You are protected from illegal and unfair practices, and have the right to not only file a complaint with the Florida Bureau of Insurance Fraud if you are a victim of them, but also litigation to recover your finances and credit.
At Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A., our attorneys have a combined record of over 130 years of protecting consumers in commercial litigation and consumer fraud issues. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help. You can also find out more about our team of experienced attorneys by visiting our website.