Movie Madness – cancel your stolen video rental card

Movie Madness – cancel your stolen video rental card – Brief Article

Christine Pulfrey

THEFT | A lost or stolen VIDEO-RENTAL CARD can empty your wallet. Cancel it ASAP.

IT MAY SEEM innocuous, but a lost or stolen video-rental card can pose more of a threat to your financial well-being than a passel of stolen credit cards. Why? Because federal law limits your liability to $50 for unauthorized use of a credit card–and Visa and MasterCard waive even that amount. But there’s no similar protection for a video-rental card. If someone uses your card to rent a half-dozen movies or video games–and absconds with them–you could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars.

Marine sergeant J Ferrese of Camp Lejeune, N.C., knows what it’s like to fight this battle. Late last year he received a notice from a local Blockbuster store calling on him to return six overdue videos. Problem was, Ferrese hadn’t rented the movies. When a quick check led to the discovery that his card was missing, the sergeant called to try to straighten things out. A couple of days later he visited the store and, with the manager, watched a surveillance video showing a stranger use his card to rent six tapes.

Ferrese thought that ought to have settled things, but he was sorely disappointed. The store manager enforced Blockbuster’s policy that holds members responsible for any rentals prior to the company’s receipt of written notification that a card has been lost or stolen. Ferrese was charged $187 for the missing tapes.

Because he was about to be deployed to the Sierra Nevada mountains, Ferrese couldn’t risk the damage to his credit record that could result from refusing to pay. So he paid up. But he hasn’t given up. He has protested the fee up the Blockbuster corporate ladder, so far to no avail.

Blockbuster media-relations officer Randy Hargrove says that the local store manager did give Ferrese a break because the $187 charge was only a fraction of the actual cost of replacing the videos. “We ate a significant amount of the cost,” he says. (Movies purchased for rental often cost more than the tapes made available for sale to the public.)

Protect yourself. Hargrove reports that unauthorized rentals on lost and stolen cards are rare, as does Ross Flint, the owner of Video Station Superstore, in Taylor, Tex. In his nearly 20 years in the business Flint has encountered only one instance of someone trying to use a stolen card.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim, take the same precautions as you do with a credit or debit card. Write down your account number and the phone number of the store to notify if it is lost or stolen. If a card turns up missing, file a police report. That might sound silly, but it can help convince a video store that charges were unauthorized. Call the store to either close your account or ask that positive ID be required before anyone is allowed to use your card. Follow up with a letter making the same points.

COPYRIGHT 2001 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group