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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    4

    Default Identity Theft, Falsely Listed as Cosigner on Student Loans

    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:
    1. signature
    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.

    Thanks,
    Anne

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    71,820

    Default Re: Identity Theft, Falsely Listed as Cosigner on Student Loans

    Quote Quoting ae262
    View Post
    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.
    So... what did you then do to get a court decision, presumably either in the form of a civil judgment or as the result of a criminal prosecution?
    Quote Quoting ae262
    1. What type of attorney I need?
    To sue your brother? A civil litigator.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    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?
    What do you believe Sallie Mae did wrong? Apparently you were unable to convince the police or prosecutor that your brother had forged the signature and, even though you were told that they would stop collection efforts against you if you obtained a judgment corroborating your story, you chose not to seek a judgment.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    3. How much time/money it would cost me?
    "It depends". The cost will vary based upon the cost of the attorney or firm you hire, the complexity of the case, the defendants, whether the defendants appear and defend or default, whether and when the case settles, etc.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    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.
    If you and your brother lived in Ohio when the identity theft occurred, then litigation would be properly placed in Ohio.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Identity Theft, Falsely Listed as Cosigner on Student Loans

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    So... what did you then do to get a court decision, presumably either in the form of a civil judgment or as the result of a criminal prosecution?.
    My understanding was that filing a police complaint would trigger prosecution. I didn't go to court by myself as I didn't want to (and didn't have) spend money in litigation.


    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    What do you believe Sallie Mae did wrong? Apparently you were unable to convince the police or prosecutor that your brother had forged the signature and, even though you were told that they would stop collection efforts against you if you obtained a judgment corroborating your story, you chose not to seek a judgment..
    Well, they admitted that the signature was not mine. To me if you are admitting that this was fraudulent signature and then not remove my name, that was wrong on their part. I do not think they did enough (or anything for that matter) to investigate my complaint and even when they found that it was not my signature, they kept pushing me to go to the police. I am wondering if they couldn't remove my name from this very obvious case of identity theft, have they ever taken anybody's name off a loan for identity theft?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Identity Theft, Falsely Listed as Cosigner on Student Loans

    Quote Quoting ae262
    View Post
    My understanding was that filing a police complaint would trigger prosecution. I didn't go to court by myself as I didn't want to (and didn't have) spend money in litigation.
    At some point, you would have noticed that nobody was being prosecuted. What were you told when you followed up with the investigating officer or prosecutor?
    Quote Quoting ae262
    Well, they admitted that the signature was not mine.
    I expect that they admitted, at best, that the signature did not match. Which is different from stating that it's not yours, or that if it was not yours that you did not authorize the signature.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    To me if you are admitting that this was fraudulent signature and then not remove my name, that was wrong on their part.
    You stated that they indicated that they would defer to a court judgment that the signature was neither yours nor authorized by you, but that they weren't simply going to take your word for it.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    I do not think they did enough (or anything for that matter) to investigate my complaint and even when they found that it was not my signature, they kept pushing me to go to the police.
    If you are disappointed to be told by a financial institution that your claim of identity theft and criminal fraud should be supported by a report to the police, preferably one that was determined sufficiently supported by the evidence to result in prosecution, you're going to find pretty much every financial institution in the world to be a disappointment.
    Quote Quoting ae262
    I am wondering if they couldn't remove my name from this very obvious case of identity theft, have they ever taken anybody's name off a loan for identity theft?
    They can remove your name. They have told you that they are willing to remove your name. They have told you what you need to do if you want them to remove your name. The apparent hurdle is that you don't want to take the steps they deem necessary.

    If the prosecutor did not find the result of the police investigation to support a probable cause finding that a crime occurred and that the crime was committed by your brother, then as you were told you still have the option of seeking a civil judgment. If you want a civil judgment against your brother, finding him to have committed identity theft, file a case and prove it in court (or get a default if he doesn't appear and defend), and hope that the creditor is still willing to remove your name from the four loans at issue based upon what you were told some two years ago.

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