I am on the hook for a loan I never signed

August 17, 2016 14:21 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I have been placed as a co-signer on a student loan for my grandson. I never signed for this loan. When I contacted the loan provider they told me that I “e-signed” for this loan. I don’t know what information was provided to verify my identity, but now I am on the hook for $95,000. What can I do to rectify this since I never signed the loan?

Consumer Ed says:  

In Georgia, the law on e-signatures is governed by the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which means that electronic signatures are guaranteed the same force and legal-effect as traditional paper signatures.  That being said, basic contract law still applies, so for you to be bound to the contract, both parties must have the intent to form a contract, have notice of the transaction terms, and give proper consent to the terms. 

When determining the enforceability of a particular electronic signature, the context, actions and circumstances of the parties are taken into account.  Authentication of a signer’s signature is critical here. The loan provider must show proof that the agreement was actually signed by you.  If the signature is being disputed in court, evidence such as the signer’s IP address or the use of an email account can be used to verify the identity of the signer.  In some instances, courts have found e-signatures unenforceable where, for example, someone else routinely uses the computer (IP address) that the signer uses.

It is important to know what it means if the loan is enforced against you. By co-signing a loan, if your grandson stops making payments, you will have to make the payments for him. The law in Georgia says that a lender can immediately start collecting from a co-signer if the borrower misses a payment. Also, if your grandson misses any payments, this can also hurt your credit score. 

If you did not sign for the loan then you should contact an attorney to discuss your options. 

 

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Lender is only reporting car payments to one credit bureau

May 19, 2016 14:42 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I've been making a car payment for the last two and half years, and I have discovered that my finance company only reports to Equifax and not to the other two credit reporting agencies.  My Equifax score went up from poor to fair, but unfortunately my TransUnion and Experian scores have not improved.  I called TransUnion, but they told me that only the finance company itself can report my car payments.  I was wondering if there is a way to let the other two credit bureaus know about my $400 payments.

Consumer Ed says: 

First of all, way to stay on top of your payments!  Your responsibility is being reflected in your Equifax score.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to report your good credit and behavior to the other two credit reporting agencies—TransUnion is correct that only your finance company can do so.  Creditors get to decide who they report to, and aren’t required to report to all three credit bureaus (in fact, some don’t report to any credit reporting agencies at all).

You can try to talk with TransUnion and Experian, but, in all likelihood, they won’t agree to accommodate you.  Your best option is to talk with your finance company instead.  If you’ve been dealing with someone in particular, talk to him/her and ask for someone high in management.  When you reach that person, explain your issue, emphasizing how you’ve been a good customer by consistently making your payments (the longer you’ve been doing this, the better).  You should then ask them to add your account to the two other credit reporting agencies.  Your bargaining chips are that you have been a good borrower, and you have an income that shows your capacity to pay future loans—that’s what lenders want.

If your finance company agrees to your request, all three of your scores will soon be more similar, but remember there may still be some variances, since the credit bureaus calculate scores differently.  Creditors may also report your information to the various agencies at different times.  Should your finance company refuse your request at first, keep making your payments on time, and they may be willing to reconsider a few more months down the road. 

You should still order a free credit report every year at www.annualcreditreport.com and check for errors.

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Merchant turned my account over to collections after I reversed charges on a faulty product

April 21, 2016 14:20 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:  

I purchased a product that was faulty and disputed the charge with my credit card company. I had the charge successfully removed from my account. Now the merchant has turned the matter over to a collection agency. Can they do that?

Consumer Ed says:  

Generally, once the credit card company has reversed the charge, it’s between the credit card company and the merchant to determine whether the charge was valid.  Since the credit card company did remove the charge, the merchant likely lost that fight. 

If the merchant has turned the account over to a collection agency, you should strongly consider disputing the charge with the collector. You must do so, in writing, within 30 days of receiving notice of the debt from the collection agency.  You should verify that the letter from the collection agency informs you that you have 30 days to dispute the charge.  If the letter does not inform you of this right, the letter itself may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, as a result, the debt may also be uncollectable for that reason.  If you dispute the charge, the collection agency must ask the merchant for proof of the debt.  The merchant has 30 days to produce this evidence. During these 30 days, the collection agency cannot proceed to collect the alleged debt from you if you have informed the agency that you are disputing the charge.


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