March 17, 2009
We have a lot on our financial plate. A mortgage. A car payment. Student loans. Health insurance for my husband. Cell phones, credit card payments, utilities, auto insurance. The list goes on and on. None of these things are necessarily bad things and for the most part, it is very manageable.
Even in a recession, we could keep up with our bills that were coming in each month.
I started to get a little cocky. Look at me acting like an adult, doing the right thing, managing everything we had signed up for. I secretly moonlight as a rockstar. I know where everything is going and its getting done on time.
But here’s where it gets tricky – I’ve moved three times in the last two years. And I got married. And I changed my name after I got married. And one of my student loans was sold 6 times during that time period.
Wait. What? Who has my student loan now? And if I don’t know who has my loan, are all of my bases really covered?
The truth is I am not sure. And I’ve been spending an obscene amount of time trying to find that out. For some reason, it never fully clicked in my head that I would need to keep up with who owns my loan.
So far I’ve learned that buyouts and takeovers were the primary reason for my loan changing hands so many times. In one instance, my loan was only owned by a bank for less than five days before it was sold again. Half of the companies do not exist anymore, or at least not in the same way they did when they acquired my loan. In some cases, my loan was sold for less than what was owed. And in the mess of buyouts, my information was not updated correctly.
It has become a giant, nasty, confusing, evil nightmare mess.
In case you are in a similar situation, here are a few things I’ve learned the hard way:
1. Know who owns your loan. It isn’t enough anymore to just send your payment on time to the loan service. If your loan has changed hands, it may have been sold incorrectly. In one instance, my loan changed hands for $25 less than the loan amount and the old company waited almost a year to notify me of the difference.
2. Don’t just send money. Make sure the company actually owns your loan. You should get something in the mail that tells you what you owe, who you owe it to and what the payment plan is going to be.
3. Ask for a payment book. That is your proof that you are paying who you are supposed to pay. And it helps if your payment was applied to the wrong account. Apparently that happens far more often than I realized. Coupled with a bank statement or a canceled check, your payment book can cover you in case of a clerical error.
4. If it seems shady, ask for the note. “Can you show me where I signed?” is a very powerful question. If it is a legitimate company, they will make every effort to provide you with that information. If they aren’t on the up and up, you will most likely be hung up on quickly. Don’t ask this question with the intent of not paying – ask it with the intent of determining ownership of the loan.
What have you learned when it comes to dealing with your loans?