My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: OH (where I lived when the loans were taken) and TN (where I live now)
In 2009, I received payments overdue letters from Sallie Mae regarding a loan on which I was the co-signor and I didn't know the principal borrower. I submitted an identity theft report with police and Sallie Mae. I also ran my credit history and found 4 other loans that my brother has taken with my name as co-signor that were taken between 2006-2008.
I had signed as a co-signor on only one loan and he has used my information (SSN, work name, etc.) on these other three loan applications. It turned out that the other loan with my name was taken by his friend (or possibly ex-girlfriend).
These loan requests were filed from Columbus OH where I lived with until early 2008 and then I got married and moved to TN.
I submitted a request with Sallie Mae for fraudulent loan as well as with Columbus OH police department. Over the period of several months in 2010, I spoke to the investigators at Sallie Mae and the Columbus police. Sallie Mae closed my request once and I asked them to open the investigation again. They admitted that the signature on the loan applications match with my brothers (it is very obvious just by looking at them - I provided them with samples of my signatures from that period and they already had samples of his signatures), however they refused to take my name off the loan and closed the investigation until I get a court decision.
It was a clear case of identity theft in my mind and there was clear evidence:
2. information used on application form - my name and SSN, but email id and phone numbers of my brother
I am not on speaking terms with my brother but through my parents, he communicated that he is deferring the payments of these loans and will consolidate them at some point without my name. After deferment, I stopped getting letters from Sallie Mae and this other person (his ex-gf) started making payments on her loan.
Late last year, when the deferment period was over, my brother defaulted again and the loans went into collection.
I want to take some legal action to protect myself again any collection (a step that I should have taken 2 years ago) but don't know:
1. What type of attorney I need?
2. Who can I sue? Can I sue Sallie Mae because they didn't help me although they had evidence that it was not my signature on the loan application? Should I sue my brother?
3. How much time/money it would cost me?
4. Lastly, I live in TN now whereas the identity theft happened in OH. Does this matter where I should hire the attorney? It will be very difficult for me to travel to OH.
All these loans total close to $200K and at this time I don't have any money. I have paid my educational loan in full in 2010 before quitting work and starting my business where I lost money in 2011. I am currently fully dependent on my husband while trying to revive my business.
I have been very stressed about this situation and was even thinking of filing for bankruptcy - but learned that student loans are non-dischargeable.
I really appreciate your taking time to read this long post and providing any suggestions on potential options for me.