Sioux Falls, SD
Often times consumers will check their credit reports when they want to buy a car, or take out a mortgage. It’s not something they think about when they rent a movie, but that’s coming back to haunt some South Dakotans.
The Hollywood Video store is now closed. You can't rent videos from them anymore but if you did in the past, you need to check your credit score, of all things. A national credit collections company is in trouble with the state's attorney general's office.
National Credit Solutions or NCS is now trying to collect possible late fees and other account balances for the bankrupt Hollywood Video or Movie Gallery stores. Several South Dakotans have complained to the attorney general's office saying they don't have a past due account. And they're finding out when they least expect it.
"They don't have any idea until they go to buy a car or home or financial institution that their credit rating isn't what they expect," Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General said.
Jackley says in some cases, a three dollar movie rental is coming back on credit reports as several hundred dollars in bad debt. But before a consumer gets a negative report, he says they should have been contacted several times.
"The concern is not providing notice that debt is due or that a negative report is being place on their credit report," Jackley said.
The AG's office in Montana has already sued NCS for unfair and deceptive debt collection practices. Jackley has negotiated with the company for South Dakotans.
"We are hoping that the temporary agreement to remove the negative indicators will stand and we don't have to further address these issues,” Jackley said.
Jamie Watson, a general manager at NCS, says her company is quote, "just doing its job," and that it "doesn't mean to cause harm to any South Dakotans". Watson says NCS agreed to the temporary removal as a courtesy to Jackley's office for reaching out to them.
NCS has agreed to the temporary removal of the negative report, but it is only temporary. The company tells the attorney general's office it might return the negative report and still try to collect the debt in the future.
If you're a past Hollywood Video or Movie Gallery customer, the AG's office says it's a good idea to pull a copy of your credit report to see if there's a notice of delinquent payment in your file.
You can do that by going to annualcreditreport.com. This is a free service once a year.
For those who still find a problem on their credit report from National Credit Solutions, you are advised to send them a certified letter asking for validation of the debt.
If you are unable to resolve the issue with the collection agency, and still believe you don't owe this debt, you can contact the South Dakota Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.