Wednesday, March 23, 2011
like many people, perhaps even most people, when i went to university, i took out student loans in order to pay for my studies. eventually, the day came when i stopped gathering degrees (that took awhile) and the student loans, sadly, entered the repayment phase. by that time, i lived in another country. and it took a good eight months to consolidate the various loans from the various universities i had attended and to convince the good student loan administrators that not only were other countries but yes, sometimes people, even american people, will choose to live in them. and in those said countries, it might be much more efficient to do a regular bank transfer, as opposed to writing a check (which was a very archaic and unused system in a good portion of the world, even already in the mid-noughties).
the whole way along, i had dutifully kept all of the various interested parties informed of my address and contact details. and i had all of the paperwork on all of the loans with me, so i am absolutely certain that, after a stack of letters half a foot high, they were all eventually consolidated into one monthly payment which i continue to dutifully make to this day (it's set up with my bank to transfer automatically), a good five years on. but, as i said, it took awhile to convince these amero-centric folks that i lived abroad and that i needed an account to which to transfer the payments.
during the time that took, some (but strangely not all) of the loans entered default and must have ended up on a list of defaulted student loans. however, those loans are all part of the consolidated package i succeeded, in the end, in arranging and they are no longer defaulted.
then, 2009 comes and the crisis takes hold in earnest. and suddenly, my parents begin to receive letters addressed to me (tho' never with my correct name) and plaguing phone calls, asking for me. leaving cryptic messages about student loans, but never going so far as to state any amounts or even lenders on said loans, nor what universities they were from. the letters are quite clever - they look very official and while they don't actually claim to be sallie mae, the official federal student loan consolidation folks, they imply that they are working on sallie mae's behalf. which i know that they are not, because i can see my own records and check on my loan repayment status via the real sallie mae.
so it seems that there are lot of unscrupulous companies out there, who somehow got their hands on some very old information - both address/phone-wise and default-status-wise and they are actually trying to scare my aging parents into, i can only guess, giving them money! all of these companies - which have different names and which have their supposed vice presidents call and talk to my mom, seem to be based in wilmington, delaware. leaving me to think that must be the place that's sucking all of the happiness out of the universe (and here i thought it was the thai airlines lounge in the airport in manila).
what kind of desperate scam artists would do that? prey on someone's elderly parents - trying to scare them - with veiled threats of how much trouble their daughter is in. even the letters are extremely vague - referencing "your loans" and although they have arbitrary amounts listed as well, absolutely none of the loan numbers or amounts match any of my records. plus, there's the fact that all of my student loans are consolidated and in repayment.
i can only guess that i'm not the only person out there who this is happening to, and i can only hope that other people's parents are as resistent to the threats as mine have been. i guess it's an indicator of how desperate times are that unscrupulous people resort to such tactics. and sadly, i fear it also means that they work, because the letters and phone calls continue to come, badgering my parents. simply because way back when i took out student loans, my permanent address was at their home. and as soon as one of them is told they are on a do not call list, the company name changes to a new P.O. box in wilmington, delaware and the calls resume.
and it seems that the only thing i can do about it is apologize to my parents that they have to endure it and assure them that all of my loans are, in fact, consolidated and being repaid. i don't know what else can be done...there are a lot of websites out there, with similar complaints - i even read of a canadian woman who had never had a student loan in the US in her life being badgered by these companies. but anyway, i thought i'd write about it here, because bringing the issue into the open can maybe help a little bit.