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I’m a Victim of Sallie Mae Loan Fraud. What Can I Do? – Randal

“Dear Steve,

Around 6-7 years ago, I cosigned a Sallie Mae loan for my roomate in the amount of $15K and a second one for around $3K. In 2006, I broke off communication with him as he moved back to the UK due to not getting a job in the US.

Well, there’s been times that sallie mae has contacted me about him being late on payments, so I would send him a facebook message or email and let him know. He was always late, but made sure it got paid somehow. Well I received another call last month from the recovery dept. of sallie mae saying that the full balance of $37,000 was needing to be paid. I really and honestly had no idea about this amount.

When I expressed my concern for that high of an amount, the lady told me the SEVEN loans and their amounts. I said “there’s no way I signed for that amount!” so she gave me the number of the fraud dept. to call and request the documents. I have called them and am awaiting them in the mail as we speak.

Meanwhile, another lady called me wanting the money he owes, which a portion i legitimately cosigned for, and said that the time has expired to go over these documents and that it can’t be claimed as fraud.

I had no idea on the amount of TOTAL debt and apparantly these documents may not have been sent to me originally. How can this be true? I am a victim of identity fraud because he had my pertinent information. Also, having a signed contract that he would pay this, I know I can legally sue him since he did not take care of his loans. Is it possible to sue in the UK from the U.S.?

Does Sallie Mae cosigning loans have any timetable to claim fraud????

Randal”

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The Answer

Dear Randal,

I figured in this case I’d contact the folks at The Dhami Law Firm and ask them for their opinion. Here is they had to say.

“We receive a remarkable number of enquiries each month from cosigners of defaulted student loans, and while the cosigners are generally family members or significant others, we have seen cases like yours before. We are not offering legal advice and you should speak with your own attorney before deciding on a course of action, however.

You raise a number of issues we would like to touch upon:

On the Nature of Cosigning:

When you cosign a loan, you’re actually assuming responsibility for its repayment. The lender can attempt to collect from you and sue you in court to obtain a judgment, which will allow them to garnish your wages or file liens against your property. In some states, a lender must attempt to collect from the primary debtor before pursuing the cosigners, however it’s not a requirement in all states.

Total Amount Owed

You can only be pursued for amounts that you have actually cosigned for, so reviewing the loan contract(s) that Sallie Mae or its collection agent claims you signed is critical. While you have already requested these documents, you can also request a “payoff” from Sallie Mae, to get a better sense of what is happening on each of the loans. You may also wish to send Sallie Mae or its collection agent a debt validation letter requesting a copy of the loan contract(s) they allege you signed.

The party who claims you owe the full balance is simply attempting to collect on the account displayed on their computer screen, and is likely uninformed as to the exact amount you personally owe. Don’t take it personally. Keep track of which phone numbers they are calling from, the time and date of each call, and any threats they may be making. While it appears your debt is currently in the hands of Sallie Mae, they’re likely to hire a collection agent in the future, and you may have recourse under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to stop the harassment and obtain up to $1000 plus attorney’s fees if violated.

Fraud

If you can confirm your signature on the loan documents has been forged or your identity otherwise stolen to cosign or otherwise guarantee loans beyond the one you originally cosigned, Sallie Mae itself has no control over the statute of limitations for such fraud or theft, or your rights in this regard.

If you suspect fraud or identity theft, you must report this to your local police. Reporting will provide important evidence of such fraud if Sallie Mae or its collection agent names you in a future lawsuit. The statute of limitations for fraud and specific provisions for identity theft vary from state to state and under federal law, and it is unclear based on the information provided whether or which state or federal laws would apply. It is important to document the fraud immediately upon discovering it and report it to both the police and Sallie Mae.

What else can you do?

You mentioned suing your former roommate. While it would be inadvisable to engage in litigation in the UK given the expense and complexity involved, you can file a civil suit in the US naming him in the UK. You will need to ensure you can either serve him with the summons and complaint or otherwise meet the international service of process requirements, however.

You should also be aware that if the old roommate doesn’t do something to the student loans, whether it’s consolidation, rehabilitation, or otherwise get them out of default, Sallie Mae and/or its collection agent are likely to file a lawsuit in state court and name you as a cosigner. At this stage, you’ll have an opportunity to request a copy of all loan documents as well, and to use defenses such as identity theft or lack of evidence of your indebtedness. In the event you are sued, you should immediately consult your attorney.”

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

Im a Victim of Sallie Mae Loan Fraud. What Can I Do?   Randal
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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