Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Karen Southall Watts of United Professionals - "Green isn't always better"

Karen Southall Watts, a Consultant and College Instructor, asked to contribute to my blog. She too is a blogger with great insights about searching for a job and so forth. You can read her work at Ask Karen.

Karen submitted a short piece entitled, "Green isn't always better."

Karen Southall Watts shares

In a strange twist of fate the highly educated, and therefore more likely to be environmentally minded I’m told, members of FSLDM may not benefit at all from being “green” in dealings with lenders. As I’ve read the many stories and comments on the blogs and forums and Facebook I’ve noticed two trends. First the debts are overwhelming and destroying lives and second much of the communication takes place over the phone and via email (statements). Sad as it may be, it’s time for us to take a step backwards in dealing with student loan lenders.

First, use real paper letters and certified mail to correspond with your lender. The small fee you pay for this pales in comparison to the value of being able to state “I know you got my letter.” Insist that lenders send you statements, concerns and anything else in snail mail. My hope is one day we will be able to recycle all of this stuff. In the meantime, you need a record to back you up and for potential participation later in lawsuits (where this applies). Keep copies of everything…which brings me to…

Second, copy all your correspondence and CHECKS. Lots of people have written about lost or mismanaged payments. Since much of the banking industry is “going paperless” often you are left with no record of payments made or dates when checks should have been processed. When you complain, in writing, include copies of checks.

Third, stay off the phone. The incessant phone calls for collection of money that simply is not there are making many people miserable. Do all you can to avoid these calls. Use caller ID and voice mail. When you find yourself on the phone with these folks DO NOT ENGAGE WITH THEM. George W. Bush was often praised for his uncanny ability to stay on message no matter what was happening around him. Learn from this. Start by sending a letter with your intentions regarding your debt and asking not to be contacted at work, etc.  Here is the website of the Federal Trade Commission that discusses this, check it out: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm

Here are a few things to try out:
·         Firmly and politely say “I can’t speak with you now.” Then hang up.
·         Respond with “Please send me a letter through traditional mail.” Then hang up.
·         Tell persistent callers, “There is no new information on this matter. Please don’t call again.” Then hang up.

Until your student loan debt is resolved—keep good records—it’s your best defense.

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