Short Answer — You can potentially go to jail for not paying Aaron’s. Rent-to-own companies can sometimes press charges against customers due to theft-of-service laws. However, some states have fair debt collection laws that help to protect consumers.
What Happens When You Miss an Aaron’s Payment?
Typically, if you miss a payment, Aaron’s will try to get in touch with you right away. If the company cannot contact you directly, it’ll call your references to try to reach you. Whether or not you get a second or third chance to pay for your merchandise is up to the manager of the store you rented from.
To find out more about the consequences of not paying for your rented merchandise, we contacted Aaron’s customer support.
Potential Legal Consequences
After calling you and your references, if Aaron’s is unable to get in touch with you it can sell your debt to a debt collection agency. The collection agency can attempt to take you to court, and can, in some cases, have you arrested if you fail to meet a court date or make a court-ordered payment.
Current laws state that you cannot go to jail for failing to pay a civil debt (e.g., credit card debt, loans, an unpaid rental from Aaron’s), but companies can use the loophole of court-ordered payments, having you arrested for contempt of court rather than directly prosecuting you for failing to pay a debt.
Another loophole rent-to-own companies have used is theft-of-service laws, which have been used to charge customers with theft for failing to make payments.
Consumer Protection Laws
Some states have taken measures to remove these loopholes in state law. For example, Texas passed legislation preventing companies from pressing criminal charges except in cases of clear intent to steal property (e.g., reselling rent-to-own furniture before paying it off).
Not all states have such protections, so it’s a good idea to check laws in your state.
Your best bet is to let Aaron’s know as soon as possible if you’re having trouble making payments. Management may be able to work with you to come up with a plan or cancel your lease.
For more information, see our research on Aaron’s repo policy.