Keeping credit reporting firms, debt collectors honest
News from Los Angeles Times:

Pamela Johnson of Orange is one of many people who has recently received notices from a debt collector called West Bay Acquisitions over supposedly unreturned Hollywood Video DVDs.

The video-rental chain’s parent company, Hollywood Entertainment, was purchased by an outfit called Movie Gallery in 2005. Five years later, Movie Gallery went out of business, selling its portfolio of outstanding customer obligations to West Bay Acquisitions.

Johnson, 68, said she was “dumbfounded” to receive a notice the other day saying she owes $ 24.43 for several DVDs that she rented from Hollywood Video in 2009 and never returned.

“I’ve never kept any DVDs,” she said. “I never had any problem with Hollywood Video at all.”

However, she has no receipt from 2009 attesting to her video-rental honesty — who would? — so she isn’t sure how to keep the debt collector at bay, or whether her credit score could be harmed if she ignores West Bay’s claims.

As it stands, debt collectors are largely unregulated by the federal government. They fall mainly under the purview of states, which may or may not have the wherewithal to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.

But new rules proposed by the

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