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Hertz To Pay $168 Million To Settle Hundreds Of Car Theft Disputes

This May 23, 2020, photo shows vehicles parked outside a closed Hertz car rental office in southern Denver.
This May 23, 2020, photo shows vehicles parked outside a closed Hertz car rental office in southern Denver.

This May 23, 2020, photo shows vehicles parked outside a closed Hertz car rental office in southern Denver.

Car rental company Hertz on Monday announced it will pay about $168 million by the end of this year to settle 364 disputes in which customers alleged they were falsely accused of stealing vehicles.

Hertz, which declared bankruptcy in 2020, said in a press release that the action will resolve over 95% of its outstanding theft reporting claims.

By settling these disputes, the company is trying to stay true to its goal of putting customers first, according to CEO Stephen Scherr.

“While we will not always be perfect, the professionals at Hertz will continue to work every day to provide best-in-class service to the tens of millions of people we serve each year,” Scherr said in the press release.

Late last year, CBS News reported that some customers said they had been arrested and served jail time after Hertz falsely accused them of stealing cars. In certain cases, customers had paid to extend their rental periods but were still reported for theft, according to lawsuits cited by The New York Times.

At least one of those accused had not even rented from Hertz in the first place.

A Colorado man told CBS News he learned of a warrant out for his arrest from customs officers while attempting to fly to Mexico with his family. Drew Seaser was accused of stealing a car in Georgia — despite never visiting the state or renting from Hertz.

Seaser was among multiple claimants in Delaware’s bankruptcy court who said the company wrongly accused them of theft. It is unclear if his case is covered by Monday’s announcement.

Hertz had initially sought to cast doubt on customers’ allegations.

“The vast majority of these cases involve renters who were many weeks or even months overdue returning vehicles and who stopped communicating with us well beyond the scheduled due date,” the company said in a statement to CBS News last year.

In an interview with Bloomberg in April, Scherr, who assumed CEO responsibilities in February, struck a more conciliatory tone, saying Hertz had falsely reported thefts due to a glitch in its systems. Scherr said the company had since taken steps to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

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In this week’s announcement, Hertz said the majority of the funds to cover its payout will likely come from its insurance carriers.