US senators urge federal investigation on Hertz rental car company after customers wrongfully accused of driving stolen rental cars

FILE - In this May 6, 2020, file photo, a Hertz car rental is closed during the coronavirus pandemic in Paramus, N.J. Hertz filed for bankruptcy protection Friday, May 22, 2020, unable to withstand the pandemic that has crippled global travel and with it, the heavily indebted 102-year-old car rental company's business. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File) (Ted Shaffrey, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Federal lawmakers are urging the federal government to investigate Hertz’s business practices after customers were wrongfully accused of driving rental cars that were reported as stolen.

In a letter to the rental car company, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said he demanded Hertz address “grievous shortcomings that have had real and serious consequences for its customers.”

Related content: KPRC 2 Investigates: Hertz customers report being accused of driving stolen rental cars

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s letter to the White House Competition Council stated that the false arrests caused a “disturbing pattern that led to traumatic experiences, job losses, and even jail time for their customers.” She also called for a thorough investigation into the auto retail industry.

“This is all the more concerning because arrests—even false ones—have life-changing and long-lasting consequences,” said Sen. Blumenthal, “To that end, I demand information about the policies and procedures Hertz has in place related to stolen vehicle reports and that Hertz to take immediate steps to provide redress to customers who have suffered the profound and enduring harm of a false arrest.”

Hertz Corporation has previously denied claims they falsely accused customers.

Houstonians say they were falsely accused, some charged

KPRC 2 Investigates reported that several Houston-area customers who rented cars from Hertz were later accused, some arrested and charged, with driving the stolen rentals. Court records show that in some cases, the stolen vehicle reports led to confrontational situations between customers and police officers.

KPRC 2 Investigates identified several cases where records show the stolen vehicle report was filed before the accused customer rented the vehicle.

RELATED: Harris County Attorney exploring options on Hertz rental car arrests

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has dropped the criminal cases against multiple defendants who were charged.

Hertz faces a class-action lawsuit including hundreds of people across the country. The lawsuit alleges Hertz has a practice of filing stolen car reports, despite having other evidence.

The company has responded with the following statement last November:

Hertz cares deeply about our customers, and we successfully provide rental vehicles for tens of millions of travelers each year. Unfortunately, in the legal matters being discussed, the attorneys have a track record of making baseless claims that blatantly misrepresent the facts. 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. Situations where vehicles are reported to the authorities are very rare and happen only after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer.”

To read the letter from Sen. Blumenthal, click here.

To read the letter from Sen. Warren, click here.

RELATED: Hertz files thousands of auto theft reports against customers annually


About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.