Student Loan Family Forgery Nightmare. Now what?[ Edited ]
06-18-2012 11:06 AM - edited 06-18-2012 11:42 AM
My story is complicated and pretty sad, and I don't know what to do. I've tried to make this as brief as possible.
My mother and stepfather encouraged me to enroll in the very best college I could get into. They took me on visits starting when i was 12 years old, and they gave me the gift of an education at a top school. They paid for it-- or so I thought. They told me that they were taking out some loans, and I told them that i would help them to repay them when I could afforrd to. They made it clear to me that THEY were taking out loans-- I was not. I had no knowledge of the specifics-- lender, amount, terms, etc. I never even saw my own financial statements, which were sent to my parents in my home state. I didn't feel entightled to my education-- it was a very generous gift that was as important to them as to me.
I graduated in 2007. In 2009, i was contacted by DCS about defaulted private student loans (CittiAssist) totalling $75K. I disputed this, talked extensively to my mom about it, who swore that they were supposed to be in their names. We wrote lots of letters to Citibank and DCS, but my mother wanted to handle it-- fix it-- because she felt she had dropped the ball since they were in default. I let her do this, which was my major mistake-- but i trusted my parents to look out for me, because i had no reason not to. I'm leaving out a lot of back and forth here, but the gist is that for two years, she made calls and we both wrote letters, and it seemed like we were making progress until it became clear via my credit report that we were spinning our wheels. I followed her instructions, as she seemed confident she could fix the error.
My parents divorced, and it was ugly. In 2011 i heard from 2 CAs, six months apart, about the debt. I disputed; heard nothing. A legal aid lawyer told my mother that the only way to clean my record of these loans was to file an identity theft report (which i have been assured covers companies' clerical errors, which at the time I still believed this was) and go through the CRAs, which we did. Experian and Equifax blocked the debts, but TU did not. My mom is still trying to convince them to, and she thinks she will succeed. But even if she does, I'm not sure that solution will be permanent.
I decided to do more myself, because it had been 3 years since I was first contacted, and still it was not resolved. I called my college and asked if they had the promissory note, and they put me on hold, came back and said "no, but we called citibank, and they said they can send it if you call and request it." But three months ago, I even had a lawyer write a letter demanding the agreement! Citi did not write back. But my college did furnish me the last year of my financial records (they destroy everything after 5 years), and there were some fishy looking things on it, including a "refund" issued to me that I certainly never received.
My next step was to go to citibank again, but my mom begged me not to. Why wake the sleeping giant, we're 2 for 3 with the CRAs, just hang in there, etc. She gave me a long run around and a lot of emotion and denial, but it is finally becoming apparent to me that either my mother or stepfather forged my signature on thess loans-- perhaps, in their minds, innocently. I think she doesn't want me to pursue citibank because she knows this, and if there is a co-signer, it would be my now ex-stepfather, of whom we are very frightened. He is a violent alcoholic and we have been estranged since the divorce.
In sum: If my name is on these loans, it was forged by family. But I DID go to the school where the money was sent. I'm scared to provoke the lender. Probably there was a cosigner, but we don't want to provoke him either. The debts are blocked from 2/3 of my CRAs, but I don't know-- maybe Citi can still sue me. The SOL in my home state is 15 years, the SOL is my college state is 6, and the SOL where I live now is 6. I make $20k per year, and my mother is nearly homeless.
What the heck do I do now?