Massachusetts AG Slams Rent-A-Center with $8.75M Whack for Preying on the Poor

Massachusetts AG Slams Rent-A-Center with $8.75M Whack for Preying on the PoorSource: Google Street View
Sam Cavanaugh
Published on November 28, 2023

Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell declared victory in an $8.75 million smackdown with Rent-A-Center, a rent-to-own titan accused of exploiting the poor, according to a report released by the AG's office. Saddling itself on the back of Massachusetts’ low-income residents, RAC has been hit with allegations of employing unfair and deceptive business strategies in brazen defiance of consumer protection laws, the state's top legal eagle announced.

Under the assurance of discontinuance, a legal agreement that is a notch below an admission of wrongdoing but a mea culpa in the court of public opinion, RAC is coughing up millions to the Commonwealth kitty and committing to a revamp of its business antics. AG Campbell, in a statement obtained by the AG's news desk, bared her team's resolve saying, "I am proud of my team’s dedication in securing a settlement with Rent-A-Center, which sadly utilized egregious tactics to target and exploit low-income communities for profit."

The dark underbelly of RAC's modus operandi, revealed during the AG’s Consumer Protection and Civil Rights Divisions' probe, saw misuse of the criminal process where, in desperation, RAC reportedly filed criminal theft and larceny complaints against consumers who got behind on their payments. Adding insult to injury, the AG's Office learned that RAC was an unrelenting caller, hammering consumers with phone calls in excess of what is deemed civil, not to mention legal under the AGO’s Debt Collection Regulations.

As part of the settlement, acknowledged widely in a recount by the AG's office, RAC has agreed to discontinue the egregious tactics. Among them is the filing of criminal mischief against their own customers simply for missing payments, highlighting a grim tableau of exploitation painted in the investigation. Consumers subjected to the unannounced intrusions by RAC at home, these revelations come as a bitter truth delivered to the doorstep without warning, often unraveled into physical confrontations and partial repossessions.

Massachusetts residents, particularly those who suspect that they might have been unfairly entangled in RAC's questionable mesh, are invited by AG Campbell to step forward and lodge a complaint with her office. The score against Rent-A-Center was settled by Division Chief Yael Shavit of the AG's Consumer Protection Division and Assistant Attorney General Adam Cambier of the Civil Rights Division, with Senior Legal Advisor Amanda Hainsworth chipping in from the Executive Bureau.