Hollywood Video had 3 million people who owed them money when they, and their parent company, Movie Gallery, went bankrupt. But it was reported on Wednesday that more people might be being targeted for unpaid fees--and even fees that might not be owed to the company.
Based upon an NBC News report, the debt collection companies now tasked with getting those unpaid fees are hell-bent on collecting every penny--even from some people who say they don't owe a dime to the company.
And that's just plain criminal in the kind of economic climate in which Americans face at present.
The Rhode Island attorney general's office says a quarter of a billion dollars in fees is what is driving the strong-arm collection efforts being alleged.
And one of the collection companies gaining specific negative attention is National Credit Solutions, based in Oklahoma. NCS can boast being the first company to catch the Better Business Bureau's eye when it came to the video fee matter.
Complaints of "ruthlessness" started arriving in relation to the bankrupt company's owed fees, which prompted investigation by the BBB and drew the attention of 50 state attorney generals. And that eventually led to the emergence of a different collection company: Universal Fidelity.
UF promised 50 state attorney generals that they wouldn't be involved in bullying or threatening anyone who owed money to the bankrupt company, and would instead offer a different alternative to NCS.
They made that promise to help appease the government officials on the heels of the negative NCS collection efforts. But now NBC says growing complaints hint that UF might not be much better than NCS about reigning in the harassing and threatening collection efforts.
In fact, NBC undertook an investigation into the allegations of bullying that continue to surface about the collection companies for the video company. And that investigation has revealed that fresh complaints are emerging about harassment despite the promise by Universal Fidelity to not indulge in such activity.
Universal Fidelity's President, Paul Farinacci, says "We are not in business to harass, harangue or threaten people." But with more and more complaints coming into the BBB of harassment by Universal Fidelity and other collectors for Hollywood Video, like West Bay Acquisition, appear to be proving otherwise according to Bill Smith of the St. Louis BBB office.