I received a letter from Diversified Collection Services back in March of 2012, so I called the contact at the top of the letter to see if I could work something out. Granted, I didn't pay my student loans like I should have all due to there being too much month left at the the end of the money. I spoke with a Brandy Peterson. She was nice enough, but insisted that it was good that I called because my account was to come up for Garnishment Review. The long and short of these first two conversations were that if if I didn't pay them 388.00/month for a student loan, they were going to garnish my wages to the tune of 15%. Incidentally, since this company is taking a payment after taxes, they are getting 16.94% of my hard earned money. I don't know how they came up with the payment amount, but this is what they told me I had to pay. Mistake #1: I should have taken the time to do some research before agreeing to allowing this company to take money out of my account. I would have found this website, first. Second, I would have found out that there is a federal law that states payments are to be "reasonable and affordable." Lastly, I would probably would have contacted the original creditor to see if there was any program that they had for the loan rehabilitation. During the interim of our conversation, Ms. Peterson informed me that when I make 6 on time payments, I would be eligible for an educational law that entitled me to more financial aid to pursue my Master's Degree and that after 9 months, my loan would be rehabilitated and I would then be eligible for forebarences again because I had gone through this program. Upon further reflection, I equate all of this posturing that she did to be equal to strong-arming me into a payment plan that in my opinion is neither affordable nor reasonable. (If anyone can further enlighten me about this law, I would be most appreciative.) At the end of the first call, I told Ms. Peterson that I would have to discuss this whole scenario with my wife because she manages the checkbook and that I would get back to her with in the next day or so. She stated that was fine.
During the second call, Ms. Peterson has acquired my social security number again and she now has my checking account's routing and account numbers. This was mistake #2. Against my gut feeling,
I gave her the information that she asked for because I thought maybe it could have just been nerves from a rather long day in the classroom. We arranged that the debit of my account would take place on the 28th of each month because of the way our school system pays its employees, which is the last "working" day of the month. I was trying to avoid bouncing a check, which she was all too happy to help me do. Let's rewind to August 2011.
At the beginning of the school year, my wife and I decided that due to certain financial conditions, I would change my contract from a 12-month payout to a 10-month payout. This was mistake #3. Let's now fast forward to July 26.
I received my normal "Your account will be debited on Month/28/2012" letter as I normally would. The only problem with this is that I have already received all of the salary I was going to get for this previous school year and would not see another paycheck until September 2012. I do recall mentioning this to Ms. Peterson during one of our previous conversations. So, I called Diversified on 7/27 to inform them that the check would have to be canceled because I didn't want to bounce a check. (Incidentally, I remember that while Ms. Peterson and I were setting up the details of these transactions, I mentioned this lack of salary to her, to which she told me that we could handle that later because the most important thing right now was getting me into the rehabilitation program. She encouraged me to call her if there were any foreseeable problems that I needed her to know about.) I received Ms. Peterson's voice mail and left a message for her. Considering that it was approximately 3:30 in the afternoon EST, she would have plenty of time to return my call by the time that she left the office at 6:00 PM EST (9:00 PM EST). No call ever came. The day I called her for the first time was a Friday. So, I had to sit and wait until Monday morning to try her again. I called her around 3:00 in the afternoon again even though my checking account was already overdrawn thanks to an unreturned phone call. I thought maybe she was on vacation and forgot to change her voicemail to reflect that. Within the next day or so, I called an additional two times (irritation mounting with each phone call.
Now, we arrive at today. Nothing in connection with this complaint has happened, but a survey of the damage is that in addition to having to find a means to pay my other bills because I made a bad choice of changing my contract payout, I have to contend with an overdrawn bank account. I have yet to hear from Ms. Peterson or anyone at DCS and know that we are going to be in the same scenario again within two week's time. Could I have done more to circumvent my situation, yes. I place no blame on anyone other than myself for my lack of money. I do however blame DCS for professional negligence. Considering that it seems to be a common theme among the many complaints I have read across the internet, it cannot even be justified as an accident. It is willful professional negligence.
Anyone having any suggestions on what I can do at this point to get this account away from these people so that I can finish rehabilitating my loan (maybe through the original lender?) I would greatly appreciate any advice that I can get at this point. This situation has cause much stress from my own doing and their willful lack of action. If anyone thinks there is some sort of legal issue, please feel free to tell me so that I may check it out.