Video store cheats ruin people's credit rating

By Ellen Irvine

CLAMPING DOWN: Carey Gordon, owner of United Video Cherrywood, says security measures have almost stamped out fraudulent use of others' accounts.
CLAMPING DOWN: Carey Gordon, owner of United Video Cherrywood, says security measures have almost stamped out fraudulent use of others' accounts.

DVD shops have increased security around rentals due to dishonesty and fraudulent use of accounts, with some customers even being referred to debt collectors.

Some customers are having their credit records ruined after others used their accounts and failed to return DVDs.

Henry Gabriels, owner of Welcome Bay Video and Lotto, said he sent customer debts to debt collectors Baycorp once or twice a month.

Some customers joined up legitimately with their driver's licence and proof of address, but after moving house and changing phone number "you won't see them again".

"When you ring the phone number it no longer works and they no longer live there," Mr Gabriels told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

"We have got their full details [from the driver's licence], and they end up stuffing their own credit. They don't care.

"There's not much you can do about it. It's worked in as part of our expenses."

Mr Gabriels said he negotiated with honest customers who had not deliberately set out to cheat the system.

"If they haven't done it on purpose, there's always a way around it."

In some cases an ex-partner continued to use the partner's account, racking up fines and unreturned DVDs.

"Some of those are quite horrific. We have to stand back, they can get quite fiery."

Security measures used included a password on the account, but Mr Gabriels said too many hurdles put off even honest customers.

"If we make it too hard for them [to rent a DVD], they go somewhere else."

He recalled one incident of identity theft, when a woman had stolen her flatmate's driving licence and opened an account. That ended with police intervention.

But Mr Gabriels said the vast majority of customers were honest.

Lynn Pengelly of Civic Video said security measures had been increased due to people lying on their applications.

"We do get a lot of false details and people putting down false phone numbers for somebody else.

"We ring and they say 'we haven't had those movies out'.

"We are getting a lot stricter because there has been quite a lot of that kind of thing."

When DVDs are not returned, the shop brings in debt collection firm eCollect.

"They send out a letter to come in and bring the movie back or pay the charges that are on there. Nine out of 10 times you don't get any response out of that, then it goes to collection.

"Sometimes some people will pay, but it's very few and far between. I think people just don't care."

Mrs Pengelly said the store upgraded its security system a year ago, and halved its shop size to improve visibility. "There's just so much dishonesty, it has to be like that.

"We recently had what we thought was a very nice young man come in as a new membership - he was really nice and friendly. We never got those movies back. That's $30-$40 a movie."

Photographs were taken of new members, which had decreased dishonesty. Customers also have to give their phone number when using the account.

Some customers try to avoid fraudulent use of their account by putting a note on it saying that no one is to use it unless they match the photo and have the membership card and a password.

Dianna Barke of Video Ezy Brookfield said the store had introduced photo membership and PIN numbers to reduce problems.

If in doubt, the store rang and checked with the cardholder, she said.

"We just explain that it saves some people having movies clicked up on their account that they are not hiring, so they appreciate that."

Carey Gordon, owner of Cherrywood United Video, said increased security had almost stamped out fraudulent use of others' accounts.

"In days gone by they used to be able to do that, but now all memberships have photos against the names, so it's pretty hard to do that now."

If a customer did not match the photograph, additional security questions were asked at the cashier's discretion, he said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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