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Hertz accuses thousands of customers of theft each year, claims show

Car rental giant Hertz accuses thousands of its own customers of theft each year, according to claims that surfaced as part of an ongoing legal battle in bankruptcy court. The allegations stemmed from claims made by advocates for more than 200 people who allege they were wrongfully arrested due to erroneous auto theft reports filed by Hertz. A US bankruptcy court judge has ordered Hertz to publicly release data on its theft claims, which were previously sealed. The advocates say the internal data will show Hertz filed nearly 8,000 theft reports annually during one four-year period, Bloomberg reported. Since the files have yet to be made public, it’s unclear if all of those complaints were related to auto theft. Hertz representatives downplayed concerns about the data in a statement to CBS News, asserting the complaints affected a fraction of its customers. “Of the more than 25 million rental transactions by Hertz in the United States per year, 0.014% fall into the rare situation where vehicles are reported to the authorities after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer,” Hertz said in a statement. As CBS News notes, the statistic provided by Hertz would amount to an average of 3,500 customers who face complaints for auto thefts annually. The judge’s order will require Hertz to disclose how many of the complaints turned out to be erroneous. Many of the customers suing Hertz claim they were arrested or even placed in jail due to the theft complaints. One of the plaintiffs, identified as a NASA employee, said police held him at gunpoint after he was pulled over driving a rented Hertz car flagged in a theft report. “Hertz now admits that it reports thousands of its own customers for auto theft each year,” attorneys for the plaintiffs said in the court filing, according to Bloomberg. Hertz previously said that the “vast majority” of cases involved car renters who were significantly overdue on their scheduled vehicle returns and had “stopped communicating” with the company “well beyond the scheduled due date.” The rental car company declared bankruptcy in 2020; the company’s reorganization was completed last year with an agreement to repay creditors.

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