By Victor Ochieng
There are many people who have come out to report problems they’ve faced working with Rent-A-Center, the nation's largest rent-to-own business.
One such person is Olivia Quinn, a real estate investor, who claims Rent-A-Center made her lose her mortgage because the company didn't correct her credit report in time. This forced her to pay off her rented merchandise twice.
Leroy Walton of Georgia settled everything relating to his Rent-A-Center in 2013, according to his records. But years after settling the account, debt collectors were still in pursuit, even going as far as threatening to have him arrested.
Then there is Jessica Gonzalez, who says in her federal lawsuit that she was forced to hide in the closet with her two sons when a Rent-A-Center employee visited her home to collect money.
Narrating his case to the authorities, Andrea Gorman of Ohio said Rent-A-Center employees came and kicked the front door of his home in because she'd fell behind on his payments.
Those are just a few cases of those who’ve been harassed by Rent-A-Center across the United States. More and more Americans are complaining about harsh treatment by the company, with some citing that the company's poor records system has seen them sink into terrible financial lives.
Customers of the $3 billion company have said their credit scores have been damaged and many have faced serious embarrassment when the company's officers invade their homes or send over debt collectors. Sadly, a good number of the cases are those of individuals who were being harassed after they'd settled their accounts. Many have mentioned lengthy yet unsuccessful attempts to have the company correct their records, says an investigation report by NerdWallet and Raycom Media.
It's not just customers complaining. Shareholders have also cried out that the company's business has been damaged because of the management's poor record keeping.
The reason why Rent-A-Center is able to get away with many of these ills is because they're operating within exceptions carved for the rent-to-own industry, which sees them work outside many consumer protection regulations.
This detrimental leeway is what has seen the Federal Trade Commission warn consumers of the risks associated with signing rent-to-own contracts. The challenges are causing ripples across many states. Many consumer advocates such as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine have said the industry needs more regulations.
Any person going to Rent-A-Center for whatever reasons, be it furniture or appliances, should “run — don’t walk — out of that store. Get out of there,” DeWine says.