"I kind of ruined my life by going to college": Four student-loan horror stories

Brandon Hill, a graphic designer from San Francisco, California, was awoken in the wee hours of the morning by Sallie Mae debt collectors. They began calling him “yelling and screaming” about his past-due payments as early as 5 a.m., he alleged.

Hill complained to state regulators in 2013, but then Sallie Mae and Navient Credit Finance sued him for immediate repayment of a combined $73,000 in student loans. “I was sued for complaining,” he alleged. Sallie Mae argued that the company had “acted appropriately” in calling at 5 a.m., because Hill’s cell phone has a Virginia area code, so the collectors assumed he lived on the East Coast (where it would have been 8 a.m., still before appropriate call center hours).

A source from the debt-buying industry told PJ Media that this was violation of regulations. Such violations often occur because the company is not always able to verify the accuracy of addresses. Often when there is only a mobile number to call, collectors will only call within the 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET timeframe to ensure they are calling during approved time periods, even in the west coast.

The source explained that there are fewer collectors now than before, because companies decide that the cost of complying with regulations set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is too high, leaving only larger companies who are able to comply. These rules are helpful because while many collectors try to be fair to the customer, they do occasionally cross the line, as happened with Mr. Hill.

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