I received a notice (dated January 24th) of an alleged "debt," related to the now-bankrupt Hollywood Video company. The "notice" does not detail what the charges might be for, but does display a "current balance." I never got a notice from the actual Hollywood Video company about any unpaid charges previous to this notice. Because the store location I used to use has been gone for a year or more, this made me exceedingly suspicious.
This is a scam.
These are con artists, who have developed a clever psychological scam. They prey upon the worries of persons who value their credit history. We all do these days. But they ask for a relatively small payment, often negotiating the amount down when you call them, and they know that the video rental business typically offered no proof to customers that rented items had been returned.
They want you to 1) doubt your memory about returned videos and games, 2) want to "make it all go away," 3) see it as a relatively small amount of cash that you might as well just pay and be done with it.
Don't let them take advantage of you.
By conning thousands of people out of small sums, these criminals are laughing all the way to the bank. Think about how much money they can make if thousands of folks pay them fifty dollars every day. Most of us have to go to work each day and would rather not, and these jerks are happily stealing thousands and thousands of dollars every day by making you think they can hurt your credit history with their spurious "collection efforts."
DO send then a certified letter asking for:
-- Verification of the alleged “debt”
-- Further information about the nature of the alleged “debt”
-- The calculations used to arrive at the amount they are attempting to “collect”
-- Copies of any contracts or documents which form a basis for the alleged “debt”
-- The address of, and any contact information available for the original “creditor.”
You have the right to do so under federal law.
Don't give in. We're all busy, but take the time to dispute this alleged "debt." Report them to the Better Business Bureau, the FTC, and your state's Attorney General.
This is clearly fraud, and is also a form of identity theft. They got their hands on Hollywood Video's customer database, and they're going to town with it. Take a stand. These are con artists. Don't give them a cent. Don't let them laugh at how stupid we all are.