This is long but please read. This may help you or someone you know. Borrower Beware!
Six years ago my husband left me, which was an emotional burden but to make matters worse, my car needed major repairs. I had to have transportation to and from work. Instead of getting a new car, I opted to have my car repaired. That is another Rip Off report by itself. After spending money to replace auto parts the mechanic shop then decided that the motor needed an entire rebuild. Now I am husbandless, carless and soon to be jobless without transportation.
I thought it was a God send when I received a piece of "junk mail" soliciting me from CitiFinancial. I made a call and with my excellent credit I quickly and easily got an unsecured loan.
My payments were less than $100 a month. I had no problems making my payments but it seemed no matter how early I sent my payments in by mail, my next bill would show late payment fees. I called and they told me to mail it directly to their office instead. Things were ok for a few months and then the fees were there again.
I continued trying to do the right thing. Paying on time and watching every penny applied to interest or late fees and nothing happening to the principle. I had some medical problems and slipped behind a payment. Then two. I always paid something every month but I was digging in deeper and couldn't recover. The phone calls were horrendous not only at home but at work. I spoke with them, made arrangements, paid what I could and still no relief from the calls. I asked them to please stop calling my work but they would just have someone else call who "didn't know" that I had requested no calls on my job.
They offered a refinance. A fresh start and a little extra cash. I felt I had no choice. This raised my payments to about $150 a month but what could I do. I was behind on my payments. Now I seriously have to watch my finances.
Tragedy strikes in 2002. I fall dangerously ill and I am hospitalized. I have to wait until I am healthier to undergo surgery. I am missing work while waiting for my surgery. Payments get behind again. My children take care of the calls because I am to sick to even respond. I find out that I had no disability insurance on my loan. I am in real trouble.
After I recover from my surgery, I refinance again. This time they need security so the loan is secured by my car. The loan is rewritten and this time I opted for all the insurances and now my payments are $230.00 per month. I am ready to throw my hands up, leave the country and assume a new identity. I am behind on all my bills. I feel so buried and so stuck.
This year 2004, I lost my job that I had been on for 9 years because of cutbacks and the economy. No problem right, because of the insurance. It covers disability and loss of employment. I jumped through hoops for 3 months. Faxing - Calling - Driving to their office (which is 50 miles away) while franticly looking for work. Then they need more info - go through all that again and again. I find a new job. Before I get my first check I receive a certified letter stating that my insurance claim had been denied. I am 4 months behind if the insurance doesn't pay the payments. There is no way I can ever catch up. Interest and late fees are an additional $700 on top of 4 months at $230.00. I have never been this far behind.
Now the fun begins. The calls are non stop. I am on probation with my new job and working very late hours. I know if I prove myself to this company I am sure of advancement and better pay. I am getting home very late most nights. My answering machine is full with calls from CitiFinancial. It is after hours for them so I call and leave them messages. I can't make calls from work. I am sending in what I can. Still the calls persist. I send in $100 and no relief from the calls. I call and do a check by phone for $150 that I borrow from a friend. Still the calls persist. I am sending in money to them and getting behind on my house payments. Still, I am getting no relief from the constant calls. I feel awful because I want to pay my bills. My previous employer is calling me because they are making ceaseless calls to her at her place of business and at her home. I am so sorry and embarrassed. They had even called her mother.
I am doing the best I can. I call to tell them what I can send but that is not enough. The threats start about taking my car. The car is not great but it is transportation to work and a requirement of my new job. I am threatened that they will place a judgment against my home. I don't understand this. The 20 year old punk attitude kid that said this to me explained that when they take me to court they could get a judgment against my home even though it was not part of any loan security. This doesn't mean they will take my home but I will never be able to sell it or truly own it. I told him I thought that would be non productive for them because basically they would be playing a waiting game to see who died first since I had no intention of selling or leaving my home. I ask them to please stop calling my previous employer. I assure him that I am sending every thing that I can and I realize I am behind. They want my new employer's number. I tell them that they must contact me at home and I would not subject my new employer to their harassing calls.
I call again to try to work things out. The same 20 year old kid who has made all the threats offers a chance at another refinance. I see a pattern developing with them and I know a refinance is not in my best interest but I honestly thought about it just to get the calls to stop at my previous employer. We begin to talk about refinance procedure. He starts asking questions. He asks my new employers name and number. I explain that I am hesitant to give out that information because if they call there I will lose my job. The little snotty nosed boy hung up on me.
Ok. Now I am mad. I speak to someone else to complain of this hang up and they tell me no one works there by that name. That was a lie because I called back later and he answered. We are obviously past the point of working things out but I get my paycheck and send in another $100. About a week after the check clears the bank, the sheriff comes to my house to serve me with a summons to court for a judgment. I am at work, but a visiting relative receives the summons for me. I was ready to send in some more money to them out of my paycheck that week, but decided to have electricity for another month instead. The next day one of their reps shows up at my door while I am again at work and hands a letter to the relative who was visiting. It said my account was seriously past due but we still had time before court to work things out.
This is a different guy than the one who hung up on me. Same story though except he was nicer. Unless I refinance we are going to court. I can't refinance unless I disclose my new employers name and phone number. I ask about what happened to the money that was refunded from the insurance company after denial of the claim. Per their certified letter the insurance was cancelled and the premium would be returned to CitiFinancial. He said it would be applied to my principle. I asked for proof of this and to this day haven't received it.
I had my court date Wed the 24th of November the day before Thanksgiving. I had to miss work at my new job to go, and I had to talk to my current employer about why I had to go. I was embarrassed to tell him that I was being taken to court, but he was impressed with my stance on not giving out his number to these people. I did not know what to expect and I was scared. I watched judgments passed down on people with babies who were being given 10 days to vacate property and I am thinking the whole time, I am screwed.
I had pretty decent records of the insurance denial, the payments I had made. Notes on some of the calls but what I think saved me was that my previous employer wrote a letter explaining the phone harassment she had received at her place of business and at home.
When the letter was submitted to the magistrate they were much more willing to hear what I had to say. I also questioned where the money was for the cancelled insurance. Where was it applied? I had been asking for proof of this for months. The Citifinancial Rep. said that it would be taken off my principle but had no evidence to provide of this being done. (I don't think it ever had been applied since I had never received anything either). He denied that the guy who called and hung up on me worked for them.
The magistrate denied the judgment. She told the CitiFinancial Rep. that what they were doing was illegal. They are not allowed to harass you by phone like that and certainly not at your work place or previous work place after having been told repeatedly to stop. The magistrate told him that the refunded money from the insurance company could have been applied to my late payments and we could have avoided court. She told him that even if that is not their company policy, I should not be subjected to this kind of treatment due to faulty and corrupt company policy and procedure. She told him that they could have civil charges brought against them by me and my previous employer.
Wow. I guess sometimes the good guys do win.
I am not sure what this means to me but I will call the courts after the Thanksgiving holiday. I was surprised that they took me to small claims court seeking only $4000.00 when they show that I owe close to $9000.00 after all the refinances and fees over the years. The car that I had repaired with the original loan is still running. It is a 1988 Honda which is worth about $600 and has cost me so much more. I may request to be buried in it one day unless of course Citifinancial takes it.
After court the Citifinancial Rep was a bit more humble. Outside court he assured me that they didn't want to repossess my car. He said to call him sometime soon and we could work something out. I don't think I will make that call until I speak with the magistrate and possibly a good attorney. At this point I am not sure I want to send in another penny. I have always paid my bills and gone above and beyond only to be treated like dirt and harassed beyond comprehension. I am sure they have already ruined any credit I may have ever had with bad credit reporting. I don't think they will want the civil suit and I am against lawsuits on principle. I don't want to go though the hassle either, but if people don't start standing up and setting a precedence, this type of company will continue to thrive, feeding off the efforts and hard earned dollars of America citizens.
Before you borrow. Research the company and look for other options. Keep all records. Including dates and times of who you spoke to. Don't be naive and think that other people tell the truth or keep records for you. I am not sure what the law is on this but recordings of phone conversations would be helpful.
A Town in, North Carolina
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on citifinancial