Your advice is much appreciated.
17 years ago my son enrolled and has since graduated for his 2 year associate degree in graphic arts and the school administrator assisted me to sign up on the student loan.
I was making on time monthly payments using the coupon books I recall received from Bank One which was formerly Sallie Mae at that time and completed payment on all coupon books received.
I was a single parent at that time but married in 1999 and relocated to the UK. I continued to make timely payments abroad and provided my forwarding address to the financial institution so they knew how to contact me and continued to mail me the coupon books.
I was never informed that there was any outstanding payments by mail, email nor phone call nor was my son informed all those years as he remained in the US pursuing his career.
Now as of 2011, I’ve returned to the US with my husband to relocate as that was our plan when we neared retirement. He also took on a university teaching post with a 3 yr. contract and we filed our taxes jointly. To my surprise when we were expecting our tax refund we received a IRS notice stating that it has been automatically forwarded to the Dept. of Education and has been that way since 2011 with every tax refund which totals to $9,492 IRS redirected to them.
I’ve tried on my own and through my attorney since 2011 to get documents from them to verify what they allegedly show I still owed and well as writing to the assigned collection agency to provide this information. No response did I receive nor that from my attorney after 6 months waiting for a reply. Instead the collection agency put a note on my credit report which lowered my credit score and I had spent attorney fees with no results.
I felt I was in my right to ask for details so when I received another assigned collection agency saying I owe $18,290 four months ago this year, I wrote back to request documents of what is owed and my loan applications. I finally did receive the copies for my reference which I did recognize the amounts to be $4200, $4295 as I have signed up for in 1997 but the third loan I did not recognize was a loan for $910 which the copy shows was scratched out and written for $4,000.
The signatures on this particular loan did not have my signature nor that of my son’s signature. Someone signed our names so I filled out the Unauthorized Signature application I was given by the Dept. of Education. Just a few weeks ago they replied with no name signed on the letter, no address either on the letterhead that my application for loan discharge of that one particular loan has been denied by them and the others they say I still owe.
I contacted the Dept. of Education a few days ago to explain the matter and was told I could apply for loan forgiveness by setting up a pin number to gain access of the information and request to the lender which was Bank One for loan forgiveness.
Meanwhile, the interest is still being added as I write to you which will increase the $14,772 noted directly on the Student Federal Aid website. Just yesterday I did some research to find legalzoom offers student loan forgiveness services and I did call and was told they can handle the matter for me for a fee of $599 which can be paid at roughly $99 a month until paid in full.
I do want to resolve this matter and appreciate your assistance. I am not employed and my husband is teaching as an adjunct making much less as it is a one-off payment of $3,000 for the course so there is no salaried employment and he is applying for other teaching posts but no offers received to date.
I was never contacted for the past 14 years ago and believe I should have been contacted because we could have taken care of whatever amount was left unpaid that I was unaware of at that time. I am at my wit’s end in this nightmare so your advice, Steve, is much appreciated.
Well I think the first thing we need here is some clarity about what the status is of all the bits and pieces here. The advice the U.S. Department of Education gave you about checking your accounts online is a good one. They were talking about the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) online system. It is the single online repository for information on all of your federal student loans. More information on that can be found here.
I certainly know what it is like to live overseas and try to deal with the bureaucracy back in the U.S., not fun.
But if your tax refunds have been intercepted since 2011 this problem appears to have surfaced some time ago before 2011.
Of course the best way to avoid have tax refunds intercepted is to not get big refunds. You may want to adjust your tax withholdings accordingly.
It is also not clear to me if you were making all of the payments using the coupon books you received. If the payments were not received then the checks would have been outstanding and that would have caught your eye in the past. Were all the checks cashed?
Assuming the checks were being cashed then they should have been applied to your account. If you were paying in British Pounds then I can see how some conversion of the funds into dollars might have caused a potential issue. Again, more clarity is needed on those payments.
The mystery of the growing balance can also be linked to now being in collections. Once an account is sent out to collections up to an additional 25 percent can be added onto the balance to offset the collections efforts.
I’m not sure what loan forgiveness program the Department of Education feels you are eligible for forgiveness under since they previously rejected your claim for the fraudulent loan. I also looked on the LegalZoom website and could not locate anything that indicated they offered any student loan assistance program. It’s quite possible they do, it’s just not advertised on their website at legalzoom.com.
I’m also a bit unclear what an “Unauthorized Signature” form is. I think you are talking about the process for “Unauthorized Payment Discharge” that would apply if “The school signed your name on the application or promissory note without your authorization or the school endorsed your loan check or signed your authorization for electronic funds transfer without your knowledge, unless the proceeds of the loan were delivered to you or applied to charges owed by you to the school.”
If that’s what you filled out then you can ask the U.S. Department of Education to review the denial.
Outside of a discharge of that one loan as a fraudulent loan it is not at all clear what loan forgiveness program you would be eligible for. It is also not clear if these loans are in your name alone or you cosigned for the loans. So before you paid anyone for assistance I’d recommend you talk to the U.S. Department of Education and/or your loan servicer to identify which other program, if any, you would be eligible for.
If you determine the other loans have increased because the loans went delinquent and went to collections, you can always make a payment arrangement you can afford by consolidating the loans into a new loan and putting that loan on an income based repayment plan.
Do you have any evidence of the past payments you made? If so, that would help a lot to show the loans were not in default.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.