Target 2 Consumer Alert: Hollywood Video Late Fees - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert: Hollywood Video Late Fees


They're not even in business any more, but people are getting letters saying they owe late fees to Hollywood Video.

Bills going out years after Hollywood Video went bankrupt? We learned about this from a Green Bay man who received a collection letter and called Target 2.

It's a bill Brad Hopp, a Brown County supervisor, could have just ignored.

"We opened up the mail to find out we were being told that we owed Hollywood Video 11 dollars and 33 cents."

The video rental giant filed bankruptcy in 2010. Stores closed.

Years later, former customers, like Hopp, are getting these letters, saying they're on the hook for late fees on movie rentals.

"Typically what will happen is a debt agency will buy back the debt that a company owes, and anything they can recover is theirs to keep. So, it is a business for people. So if you do owe it, it is something to pay attention to," US Postal Inspector Lori Groen explained.

Hopp says, "We're one of the group that says no, we do not owe this, and had it not been for the fact that we joined their membership -- and I'm adamant, I know we didn't have anything. We were current."

The debt collection agency that sent Hopp the letter is Westbay Acquisitions. According to its web site, "These accounts will not be reported to the credit bureaus."

That was part of a legal settlement last year by 50 state attorneys general who sought protection for three million Hollywood Video customers.

However, Groen says you still need to protect yourself.

"There are some people who've said their credit has been damaged by this. They were trying to buy cars or purchase other large purchases and this was on it. So you do have to pay attention," Groen said.

Hopp called the collection company.

"The response my wife had gotten from the company, Westbay Acquisitions, was, 'What's your account number? OK, it's disputed. Click.' I don't feel real comfortable with that," Hopp said.

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The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions tells Target 2 it has 32 complaints involving Hollywood Video collections -- the majority of them against the debt collector, Westbay Acquisitions.

"I would never ignore a debt collector's letter," Groen advised. "Dispute it in writing. Send it certified return receipt so you have proof you disputed it."

Following that advice, Hopp says he'll be sending his own letter.

"As a county supervisor I think it's very important that citizens know when stuff like this is going on so they can protect themselves," he said.

Another tip from the postal inspector: If you do call a debt collection company, take notes. Write down the name of the person you speak with, the time and date, and what was discussed. But still dispute the charge in writing.

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