In Your Corner: Very Expensive Movie Night

By Ryan Elijah

August 3, 2012 Updated Aug 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM EDT

Heather Walker was 19 years old when she rented two movies from the Angola Scott's back in 2000. Even though the store closed three years ago, she got quite a surprise when last year she was sued for nearly $1400.

"I cried. I was trying to figure out what was going on, I could be arrested. I was immediately on the phone making calls in a panic", said Heather Walker.

Heather couldn't remember any outstanding videos, but she did verify that it was her signature on the contract. She's moved around a lot in the 13 years since renting the videos but says she never received any notice about the movies. until an ex-roommate received the paperwork last year.

She couldn't believe two movies worth about 40 dollars resulted in the charge and a body attachment, for her arrest.

"It's a little extreme, especially the body attachment, but you know, it's my mistake". said Walker.

Heather admits she's made mistakes in the case, including stopping payments to the collection agency last year when a family problem arose. Attorney Dave Farnbauch says it's important for consumers to know there are a number of steps in the collection process, starting with a contract that everyone signs to rent movies.

"in the event that you don't turn in the videos, you are going to be liable for attorney fees, collection costs and all those dangers are spelled out in the contract", said Dave Farnbauch with Sweeney Law Firm.

Those attorney fees and other costs along with eight-percent interest over a decade pushed Heather's bill to the $1400 mark. The worst thing you can do as a consumer is ignore the collection efforts, In Indiana the judgment will stay with you for life, until paid and will be on your credit report for eight years, but you can negotiate with creditors.

"most creditors, in this day and age with the economy will enter into settlement negotiations", said Farnbauch.

Heather is a single Mom looking to start a new business, so getting this off her credit record is vital, she paid a bond to remove the body attachment, we spoke to the collection agency and they're willing to work with her on a settlement.

Recently all 50 state attorney generals had to get involved when a collection agency started pursing hefty outstanding late fees for Hollywood Video, they protested personal credit files were being impacted without proper warning. Heather knows exactly how they feel and hopes to put a very expensive movie night behind her.

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