Get Out of Debt Guy - Steve Rhode

I Tried to Validate My Private Student Loan Debt and They Sent My Account to An Attorney

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Question:

Dear Steve,

I co signed loans for my son, both private and federal. There are several of them. When he got out of school they totaled about $60K, and even though we have paid thousands over the last 10 years, they have ballooned up over $100K. I believe there are 9 loans. A lot of them are in forbearance and are accruing interest as we speak.

My question is about one of these private loans.

Based on one of your articles, I sent a request for loan validation to a company called Performant Recovery Inc. I had been paying them for over 2 years. When they first called, I asked them to give me information about the loan–origination, percentage amount of interest, etc. The woman I talked to said she had no information, that she didn’t know any of that. I was upset, but I thought I had no recourse but to pay until I saw an article in your newsletter about writing a letter asking for validation. So I did that-followed the instructions put forth in the article on Jan. 19, 2017. I sent it certified with return receipt and I got the receipt back saying it had been received. I mailed this letter on Feb. 6 and never got any kind of response until yesterday (May 15). I got a call from an attorney telling me that I had to pay $9000 right now because the loan had been defaulted. She wouldn’t answer a lot of my questions, except that it had been turned over to them by a debt collector, but she wouldn’t admit that it was Performant Recovery. The balance sounded like how much was still owed on this debt, which is private.

My question is, can Performant Recovery do this? Can they just turn over the loan to an attorney because they couldn’t or wouldn’t validate it? The attorney seemed to have all of the information about the origination of the loan. If that is so, why wasn’t Performant able to tell me any of that info when I asked them, and why didn’t they just answer my letter? I hadn’t paid anything since I sent the letter, as that was the advice in the article–to wait until I hear back from the debt collector.

Please get back to me as soon as you can. I asked this attorney to send me the original information about the loan and they are going to do that. They said it would probably take about 7 days, and since I spoke with them yesterday, I only have a few days until they contact me again; and I need to know what to tell them. Do I have any kind of recourse at all?

Deborah

Answer:

Dear Deborah,

First off, any private student loan lender can do anything they want at any time. It doesn’t make it right, just reality. Second, I could not locate the specific article you referenced that said not to make payments.

Performant Recovery is a debt collection agency. They attempt to collect debts when they are delinquent or unpaid. As a debt collector they operate on the instructions and behest of their client, the debt owner. Part of those instructions might be that once debt validation is requested, then treat the account differently.

It is very possible that the lack of response by Performant Recovery was simply that they had no mechanism to deal with your request or obtain the information requested. In that case your account would have been dumped back in the hamper as they pursued easier accounts.

It then sounds as if Performant Recovery passed the account either back to the debt owner or forwarded it for legal action. Who sent it for legal action is not important.

On one hand, the fact it is now with an attorney may be helpful to getting the validation you requested. At times like these people have also found good opportunities to negotiate a settlement of the debt.

It sounds as if you might have been referring to this article, “How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt.” I’m still struggling to find any article where you got the impression if you were making payment on the debt that you should then stop payment if they could not validate the debt.

Since the debt is now being handled by an attorney on behalf of the creditor or their agent, you should find legal representation. Look for a consumer attorney who is licensed in your state. One place to look for such an attorney is through ConsumerAdvocates.org.

An attorney representing you will be able to determine if the information the lender/attorney provides is legally sufficient to validate the debt. If not, then your attorney has more leverage to deal with the debt.

The fact the loan balances are now much higher than when they began is not surprising if the loans have been in deferment, forbearance, or default. A payment holiday might seem like a nice offer by the lender but it will only grow your balance.


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