Even if you pay off your student loan, be prepared to spend decades trying to get bottom-feeding debt-buyers to acknowledge it

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/04/educated-nightmare.html


see act 1: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/516/stuck-in-the-middle

i have to imagine this is the hold music that was killing her.

Instead, she worked out a kind of pro-forma program whereby she made a monthly $5 “good faith” payment, which satisfied the computers that she was not in default, allowing her to repair her credit and get a mortgage.

While I understand why she felt she had to do that, this was a critical mistake. The moment you pay even $0.01 on a debt you don’t actually owe, you’re materially acknowledging that you owe them something. Cajoling or pressuring unsophisticated and desperate people to do this is an old trick with collection agency scumbags, who use such payments as an opportunity to start what may be a long-dormant meter running again (and not at the ten cents on the dollar they bought the supposed debt for).

If we are lucky enough to have Sanders or Warren get into a position where they can call a jubilee on outstanding student debt, their next step should be to go after these bottom-feeders.


Honestly, I’m surprised we don’t hear regularly about normal, mentally healthy people looking up the offices of these places and shooting them up. Even after all Wells Fargo did, I haven’t heard of any retaliation or consequences of any kind.

We have all these fucking pointless mass shootings that kill school children and innocent people in public. You’d think there’d at least be a few near destitute folks who decide to take it upon themselves to kill the rats eating their bread.


Destitute people, or people finding out they suffer from terminal cancer and have two months left to live.

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If I understand the article correctly, she does in fact owe them some $2000 (from an original loan of $17000), notwithstanding the BoingBoing summary. The problem is that they claim she owes $49000.


It’s because for most mass shootings the reason is not desperation, but feeling of entitlement and privilege.


Yes, but the $5 “good faith” payment “turned out” to be on the full $17k she supposedly never paid off. They made it look like she was paying off the $15k she didn’t owe as well as the $2k that she did (and then ballooned the total amount to $49k, probably via “penalties and interest” due to only paying the “minimum” $5 amount).

When you’re dealing with collection agencies and the penny ante grifters they hire, the wise thing is to assume they’re dealing in bad faith from the start and not pay a cent or agree in writing or verbally to anything.


This story gives me the heebie-jeebies and the willies.


As someone who is this close to paying off their student loans, this is the most relevant Halloween nightmare BoingBoing could have picked for me.


This sounds like a good application for a ballot initiative, since politicians are demonstrably too corrupt to do anything about it.

You could make it so that filing a false claim against someone to a credit agency has statutory damages just small enough that you can take it to small claims court, and that you can apply those damages either to the company that did it, the individual that did it, or both.

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I assume the real problem is the credit reporting agencies. They let these questionable companies ding your credit with lax to questionable to no documentation. If they required valid documentation, then it wouldn’t be a problem.

If you know you have the correct value, you could just ignore anyone with invalid information. Simply requesting they provide a valid paper trail and ignoring anything that’s improper.

You could still do that. No sense paying someone anything if they don’t have a valid paperwork trail. But, see the first issue that they ruin your credit and cause problems in other area’s of your life then. All on a bogus paper trail for something that could be completely made up.


Not only that, but the loans were taken out in the late '80s, when interest rates were in at least the middle-high single digits, and the article doesn’t explain when she paid off the $15,000. Owing $49,000 on a $17,000 loan taken out at, say, 7% after THIRTY YEARS is not actually all that out of line. The 2019 cost of that loan, compounded annually, if no principal payments were made, would be about $130,000.

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I’m glad I have no student loans at all but this country really needs a student loan credit jubilee at this point.


Seems like you could sue someone for libel and mulct them in heavy damages.

Yeah, it’s a whole ecosystem of symbiotic awfulness.


Except that they make a point of doing this to the people without the resources to fight back.


Most/all of these sorts of abuses are already illegal under federal law: the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

They’re required to prove you owe a debt when demanded (and stop contacting you in any way until they do), they can’t report false data to the bureaus, they have to stop contacting you at all when directed or if you hire a lawyer, and so on.

There are statutory fines involved, especially for things like phone harassment. In fact, one of the recommended ways to fight back is to keep a log of their violations until the fines they owe are as big as your debt, and then send them an offer (in writing!) to let them off the hook in your impending lawsuit if they just agree to cancel the debt and call it even.

Of course…

… it’s this. Few people have any ability to use theoretical judicial and bureaucratic remedies for these things.


That s why I suggestedmaking the penalty small enough to take to small claims. That way, you don’t need to hire a lawyer, and if they don’t send someone to your municipality to defend themselves, you get a default judgement against them.

As long as America doesn’t have anything like mandatory legislated paid time off, most citizens won’t be able to afford to even spend an afternoon exercising their rights.