You need to turn your mother in. If you pay the debt, you are sending a clear message that she can get away with this. She has your information, you need to do something about this. You need to protect yourself, you are not responsible for your mother.
To speechless, your situation is a tough one. But this happens in many families. My brother-in-law went to an Ivy League school and found out after he graduated that his parents borrowed a lot of money to send him. He didn't find out until he applied to law school. I have volunteered for the past few years at a non-profit credit repair agency. Most of these cases are about family members stealing identity info from other family members for their own benefit, so your situation has a twist. Usually we hear about identity theft used to get money or stuff for the thieves. At least you got the education. That is how my brother-in-law looked at it (eventually) but he was pretty mad at first. He had to put off law school for two years while he got it all straight. (He does have a decent relationship with his parents now. His wife (my sister) won't get over it, though she was not even in the picture when it happened.)
Another item that jumped out at me: you mentioned in one of your posts that your mom had written letters to the lender(s) that the loans were hers and not yours. When did she do this? Do you have copies? Did the lender respond? It seems to me that would have served as notification to the lender that these were not your debts. If they continued collection efforts after this then they may be violating one or more federal laws. In the agency where I volunteer we see this frequently, especially with the bigger lenders. They simply ignore correspondence.
Have you contacted the new federal agency overseeing consumer credit problems? They have been open only a few months but are supposedly getting great results. The CRA's in particular are really snapping to attention. Previously we worked with the FTC at the federal level and seldom saw results of any kind. You may want to try this if you haven't already, especially if you have any of the correspondence from your mom to the lenders.
Here's the link: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/
Hang in there, sounds like you are doing all the right things. Amazed you got a confession, that is awesome!
A couple more thoughts after reading your posts again:
If the loans in question are private loans, the lenders CANNOT levy against your tax refunds (under any circumstances) or garnish your wages (without a judgment). That privilege is reserved for state or federal government loans/debts.
Private lenders first have to sue you, win a judgment in court, and only then they can garnish your wages. They have to sue you in the state where you reside, and the SOL for that state is the applicable one. If your state SOL is 6 years, and the last loan was disbursed the same year you graduated, then the SOL is about to run out anyway. And, given your circumstances, it is hard to imagine any civil court proceeding finding you responsible for the debt. Again I'm thinking of the letter(s) you and your mom wrote to the lender. Even if the lender did not respond, those letters could be important.
My take is you probably don't need to to worry about being sued at this late date. The bigger lenders tend to sue quickly, shortly after a default occurs. It is more likely the original lender has sold off these loans to collection agencies for a discounted price. If you aren't being hounded by the original lender, or even the first collection agency, then this is likely what has happened.
How hard would it be for a lender to think that BOTH of you are scam artist? This is how I would spin it. Kid takes out loan for school he can't afford, finishes school, and now claims loans were forged by poor, broke mother with no means of paying it back. In other words on paper it looks like you're trying your hardest to get out of paying a student loan.
I'm still on the fence about whether or not this is true. I mean where did you think the money came from the money fairy? You're telling me during your entire college stay you never once wondered where the money came from? I'm assuming that you lived on campus; did you wonder just how much the loan your "mother" took out paid for? Also you're telling me you never scheduled an appointment with your financial aid counselor? This could have easily been caught if you went to the financial aid office your first semester (like most freshmen’s do) and sat down with a counselor and said, “Hi my parents took out a loan I just want to make sure it covers my college expensive”. The counselor would have said “You mean the loan YOU took out” and from there it would have been solved. Also you stated your step-dad was trash, would you honestly say you wouldn’t double check whether or not the step-dad which you admittedly hate was truly paying for your college education since you claimed he paid the bill in the house?
You see when you benefit from something (in this case the loan), you have to really prove that you were unwittingly forced into the situation and even that may not be enough. You did benefit after all so you do have to pay something. Your mom on the other hand should be in jail for being a professional scam artist. The fact that you didn’t file a police report yet says to me that you’re not as innocently the victim as you portray, and this is a big red flag. To answer one of your earlier questions NO you can’t have a scam artist forge a document under someone else’s name, get caught and then have the document transferred over to the scam artist name. What usually happens is the scam artist goes to jail and is forced to pay it back.
You already know the right thing to do, file the report, distance yourself and start the long process of clearing your name. However when you stall and play with criminals you get labeled as one ;-)
|Starting Score: EX: 736 FAKO | TU: 757 FICO | EQ 730 FICO|
Current Score: EX: 736 FAKO | TU: 750 FICO | EQ 730 FICO
Goal Score: EX: 750 FICO | TU: 750 FICO | EQ: 750 FICO
|In my wallet: $16,000 $8,000 |
HenryJumbo, I did file a police report. I left the suspect-area blank-- both because I didn't want to implicate the wrong person, and because, as anyone who's had something like this happen in their family knows, it's very hard to point a finger at a family member. It feels so wrong.
As for your question about where I thought the money was coming from-- my mother wasn't always poor. She and my stepdad had a large income, and this is what I thought paid for my education. Not that I ever asked to see my parents' credit reports or tax returns (what kid would?), but until their divorce, we lived in a big house and went on nice vacations. I had no reason to worry. I thanked them at every opportunity for the wonderful gift of my education. My stepdad and I were very close, from when I was a little kid until their divorce when I was 24.
I didn't think my step-father was a bad guy then. Now i do, but i also think alcohol abuse and divorce can do bad things to good people.
And no, i don't think it's at all unusual for a student not to talk to fin-aid if her family claims to be paying for school. Unless you know to second-guess them, or believe them to be under financial stress, why would you?
EdieKayd, I read your thoughtful response and took some heart.
To answer your questions:
How did you get your mom to admit what happened?
- By telling her I had proof. She still claims to not remember doing it, but she she admits she must have.
But your stepfather sounds like a creep. Did he know your mom was doing this? And if he made too much money for you to get non-private loans then why wasn't he the one borrowing, since it sounds like like your mom and stepfather both wanted you to go to the $$$ school?
-I'm not sure if he knew or not. I think he must have, since he was the one "footing the bill." But he and I are totally estranged. Yeah, he's a bad guy.
Another item that jumped out at me: you mentioned in one of your posts that your mom had written letters to the lender(s) that the loans were hers and not yours. When did she do this?
- She wrote letters in 2009, when the CAs came calling. I have copies and scans, and I have proof that the lender responded-- a letter that says (paraphrased) "'We have received your fraudulent loan statement and we will investigate. We will let you know if further documentation is required." My mother received that response, and she swears (but, you know) that she received nothing after that from them.Of course, my fraudulent loan statement didn't implicate her-- I didn't yet know she had done it, and so the suspect section was left blank.
All collection efforts have been made through CAs since then. On my credit report, they are "charge-offs."
Have you contacted the new federal agency overseeing consumer credit problems?
I haven't done this! I've done FTC complaint, police report, CRA error route, but not this. I'm going to talk to my mother about it this week, via email. Everything in writing now.
Last question, what is your mom willing to do now?
She says she's willing to turn herself in to the lender. Instead of the vague language in her original letters to them ("there has been a mistake, these loans are supposed to be in my name") she is going to write them that she submitted the application without my knowledge, etc. She says she's willing to take full responsibility for them, and I believe her.
They have to sue you in the state where you reside, and the SOL for that state is the applicable one. If your state SOL is 6 years, and the last loan was disbursed the same year you graduated, then the SOL is about to run out anyway.
My question for you: The first payment was due November 2007, which I think means they have until November 2013 to sue me. Are you saying you think we should do nothing, because they probably won't sue, and she should only turn herself in if I am sued?
My mother has a record, some real bad stuff (nonviolent) she did when I was just a baby. Some folks on the forum think it's unlikely she would be criminally charged just because she's my mother, same household, etc. But my student-aid attorney thinks her record-- that this is not her first financial fraud offense-- means it's much more likely they'll go after her. And that is really hard for me to deal with.
Thank you for all your help and support!
to Speechless, I want to check with some people in my office about the likelihood of the lender suing you at this late date. I think it is doubtful, but I would suggest for the time being that you not initiaite contact with them until you know more. I know nothing about the criminal ramifications your mother may be facing. Good that you have legal advice. The downside of any anonymous forum is that you have to sift through the non-responsive non-productive replies to find anything useful. You don't sound like a scam artist, and I would tune out any of that.
What was the outcome of the QWR, if you know? Or did the QWR produce the loan documents you have received from the lender? Did the lender also send you a demand letter for the balance due? From a credit/collection/lawsuit perspective that could be a problem, as you don't want to do anything to trigger the SOL resetting.
If the SOL is about to expire (this also applies to CRA's) your best bet may be to let the statute run out. Once that happens, your mother can approach the lender with your documentations, including the 2009 letters, and have loans transferred to her name. If these were government loans that would be next to impossible, but private lenders have more leeway. Once the statute expires, they have no legal recourse to collect from you. At that point they may be delighted to have a new debtor step forward. They will also likely be willing to settle for less.
We see many credit messes due to divorce, some of which are entirely malicious and others snowball from good intentions to problems. Most of the ID theft we see is simply stealing. I don't remember hearing about this in your posts. If your mother opened a credit card account in your name, ran up a big bill, didn't pay it, and left you to pay it off, that sounds like criminal behavior, more so than the student loans. Has she admitted to doing this? Is she willing to pay any of it?
If your mother is willing to assume responsibility for these loans, then of course that would be best for you. From reading your past few posts it sounds like there were quite a few pressures on the family, some of which she may have been trying to shield you from.
Hang in there, and I will update on your lawsuit question shortly.