The people at MSN Money have unearthed a little known stipulation in rental car contracts that allows the manufacturer of speed and red light cameras to directly charge your credit card if you're caught breaking the law. How? Big name rental agencies like Hertz, Avis, Advantage and Budget have an agreement with a company called ATS Processing Services to share renters' credit card and personal information. ATS operates a fair portion of the traffic enforcement cameras in the U.S., and when a rental car gets popped running a red light, the company immediately checks to see who was renting it at the time and charges his or her credit card. Oh, and they ding you for a $30 administrative fee.
This presents a few problems. Namely, it does away with that whole "due process of the law" thing on which our entire justice system is based. In their defense, the rental companies say that having ATS directly bill renters is an easier system than what used to happen. Once upon a time, when a rental car snagged a fine from a traffic enforcement camera, the rental car company was expected to pay it and then track down and charge whoever had incurred the infraction. Neither process is exactly reassuring for those who rent cars on a regular basis, but it seems to be the norm. Next time you find yourself at the rental counter, be sure to read the entire contract.
[Source: MSN Money | Image: Tim Boyle/Getty]