My son co-signed my name on his student loans for law school. I did not know that he signed my name on the student loans.
In March of 2013, I started receiving calls from a collection agency asking if I could make a payment on these loans. I was never notified before this that I was co-signed on these loans.
Apparently, they became delinquent in June of 2012. Now I owe about $70k between two loans. I have filed all of the forms with the federal loan company but because it is two loans they are not sure if they believe that I never knew about these loans. I did call and ask for signatures but today you can “E-file” everything so there is no way to prove that is was or wasn’t me.
Here is my real problem: I am disabled and living off of social security. I have been undergoing chemotherapy and fighting this identity theft battle is not something I can physically handle.
My son also has a severe drinking problem and I have not been able to contact him for about 4 months. I do call him weekly just to say “hi”, hoping he will call me back so that we can discuss this. I was trying to be reasonable and work it out with my son before I filed anything. Now I do not have much of a choice.
My question to you, Steve, is can/will they garnish my social security checks if I do not take care of this. Is this something that I should have my attorney take care of for me since there are two loans? I understand that I need to take care of this as soon as possible but I do not have the money to pay it off or the strength for a long uphill battle. Any advice would be great. Thank you.
I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with this issue. Certainly it is not pleasant on so many levels.
One way to approach this issue is with some tough love. You could call the local police and file a report about identity theft. See Identity Theft Fraud Victims, Here’s Everything You Ever Need to Know to Fix the Mess for specific information on what to do.
You would then provide the lenders with a copy of your police report and advise them you are the victim here. But if you did this you would need to do it as soon as possible. It is important to do this when you find out about the debt, not latter.
If these are government backed student loans then it is possible to garnish your Social Security check. Debts owed to the U.S. government are one of the few reasons a Social Security check can be garnished.
If these were private unsubsidized student loans the creditor would only be able to sue you, get a judgment and see if there are any assets or income they could go after. In that case the private student loan lender would not be able to garnish your Social Security check.
After having witnessed many similar situations over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that filing the police report and following the identity theft process is the most logical way to deal with these situations.
If you have not done so already, you might want to get a copy of your consolidated credit report to see if there might be any other financial surprises out there waiting for you. You may also want to consider a credit monitoring service to keep tabs on your credit reports moving forward.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.