According to an online news report posted on washingtonpost.com, Hertz, a national rental car company, has wrongly jailed some customers for stealing its rental cars. One victim states that she was wrongfully arrested and spent over two years in jail after she returned a Hertz rental vehicle that she was accused of stealing by Hertz. The news article states that these victims accuse Hertz of reporting them to law enforcement for stealing cars they had legally paid for and rented.
One attorney representing a victim state that Hertz has a tendency to report missing rental vehicles to police without first investigating why the vehicles are missing. Victims have stated that they extended their car rentals or never even rented from Hertz. Some of the victims had to prove to prosecutors that they were elsewhere and could not have rented the vehicles on the date Hertz alleged the auto theft occurred. Plaintiff’s attorneys believe as many as 8,000 Hertz customers are falsely arrested each year.
A Federal Bankruptcy Judge in Delaware has ruled that Hertz will have to publicize these theft accusations. So far, 230 customers have filed lawsuits alleging that they were falsely arrested by Hertz.
According to the news report, Hertz has been fighting these allegations for three years. The company states that it only reports car renters to law enforcement after they have made “exhaustive attempts” to reach the customers.
In one case, Hertz took two years to turn over a customer’s receipt that would have freed a wrongfully imprisoned customer. The lawsuit alleged that Hertz failed to produce a time-stamped receipt that proved their customer was innocent of murder.
One customer stated that he rented a car from Hertz back in 2017. He said that he turned the car in, paid for the rental, and kept his rental receipts. Later he discovered that he had an open arrest warrant, and he was put in jail.
Another customer explained to the news reporters that he was thrown to the ground, arrested, and sat in jail for more than a week.
Attorneys for one complainant states that these false theft allegations have not decreased. Court filings state that although there are several lawsuits alleging the filing of the false police reports, some Hertz customers continue to be falsely arrested for auto theft.
The issue often occurs when Hertz cannot locate one of its rental vehicles in its computer system or in its physical parking lot. So Hertz just reports the motor vehicle as stolen to law enforcement. The confusion occurs when customers extend their rental or change cars and the customer’s debit or credit declines a charge. According to the news report, Hertz’s car rental system creates an auto theft report. Moreover, Hertz fails to update its police reports when payments are ultimately processed.
Hertz’s method of handling missing vehicles amounts to unloading its responsibility for its inventory onto the shoulders of taxpayer-funded police, which is not how taxpayer dollars should be used.
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