This letter has a follow-up that has also been published on this website.
A copy of the letter published below was delivered to the following person and institution:
Dear Mr. Boundy,
I am contacting you regarding a case that has broad ramifications. By necessity, you and your company, Experian, will have to choose either the side of providing accurate and valid information, or pleasing a big and powerful government institution. Similarly, you and your company, Experian, have to choose whether you support consumer rights, or you support making of monetary demands without providing validation that corresponding lending and borrowing transactions have taken place.
I have been documenting this case on the Internet. In accordance with the previous documentation, please note that this is an open letter that I will publish on the Internet, on StopExtortion.org so that it is accessible to the general public and to other institutions.
Further, please note that until this case is resolved, I need to keep records of the relevant correspondence. I am not able to record phone calls. Therefore, I can correspond in writing only, via regular mail.
My Experian credit report contains references to non-existent student loans for which no records exist, that I have ever received the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support. Accordingly, I am hereby requesting that Experian within 30 days from the receipt of this letter investigates all the student loan records in my Experian credit report, and within 60 days, by 05/18/15 either
Please note, that I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Education’s FOIA Unit, and requested documents that demonstrate that lending and borrowing transactions have taken place and that I have received the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support. The Department of Education’s FOIA Unit admitted this request in August of 2013.
In response, dated 03/11/14, the Department of Education’s FOIA Unit stated that my FOIA request “was forwarded to the appropriate office within the Department to search for documents that may be responsive to my request,” and the Office of Business Operations in FSA was “unable to locate any records responsive to my request.”
Attached is a copy of this document.
By issuing this document, the Department of Education admits that it has reported records to Experian as loans without having the necessary validating proof that the corresponding loans actually ever existed and were outstanding at the time of reporting.
In letter dated 06/23/14 I requested that Department of Education must ensure that the unvalidated alleged loan records have been removed from my Experian credit report. I received a response from the Department of Education, dated 07/03/14 stating that “The length of time a notation report remains on a borrower’s record depends on the credit bureau’s policy and applicable laws.”
As an official response from an institution that has caused harm by reporting unvalidated, non-existent loan records as if these were actual loans, this kind of an attitude to problem solving is unacceptable.
Further, a government agency should not be allowed to report unvalidated loan records as if these were actual loans, while debt validation has been requested and the government agency has failed to furnish proof that its monetary demands and the alleged debt are valid. Similarly, a government agency should not be allowed to make unvalidated monetary demands, accompanied with threats. Similarly, a government agency must take responsibility for its actions and the damage it causes.
Accordingly, I hope that Experian removes the unvalidated records from my credit report promptly, without waiting until the records will be removed because of their natural aging.
I will explain below the current situation further.
I came to the U.S. in 1989 as a political refugee from the Soviet Union. I attended state owned Rhode Island College between 1990 and 1996 as an honors student. According to publicly accessible sources the in-state cost of tuition to attend Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 ranged from $1,703 to $2,838 a year.
As a student, I did apply for financial aid. Each of the financial aid applications that I filled in contains short, couple of paragraphs long text labeled Promissory Note. Further, each of the financial aid applications that I filled in contains one line for signature and that’s where I signed these applications.
I received Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, Pell Grant and work-study financial aid that covered my cost of attending Rhode Island College.
As far as I know, as a student I did not qualify for bank loans because I was in the U.S. on a temporary visa when I first attended college, and then on Green Card until graduation, without any credit history, co-signer or collateral. Further, initially I did not have any work experience and work history either. While I was a student my income was extremely low and did not support borrowing from a bank tens of thousands of dollars.
However, the Department of Education insists that I also borrowed $46,354.00 as principal from Fleet National Bank, to which the Department of Education later added interest and fees, so that at this point the Department of Education is demanding from me over $135,000.00.
As a student, I did not live on campus. The Department of Education is unable to explain, how the $46,354.00 supposedly was used or where did it go. Considering the amount of tuition, this amount is several times bigger than I possibly could have borrowed, even if I would have received loans, and even if I would not have received financial aid that I did receive.
The Department of Education insists that because I signed the financial aid applications, I also owe most of the amounts that I applied for, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that I ever received any of that money either directly or indirectly, as tuition support.
The Department of Education does not state that all the amounts that I applied for automatically became loans. Instead, the Department of Education has picked out amounts that it insists are loans – without any evidence, that any lending and borrowing actually took place, and disregarding the fact that I did receive financial aid other than loans.
Further, please note that the Department of Education does not state that I owe money because I actually received any of the alleged loans. Instead, the Department of Education states that I owe money because I signed the financial aid applications.
In December of 2011 I received a collection letter. I responded on 12/16/2011 and requested debt validation. This case has been ongoing since then.
None of the demands have been validated. There is no validation that I ever received any of the alleged loans either directly, or indirectly, as tuition support. Similarly, there is no validation that any legally binding documents exist.
If Department of Education insists, that I owe money, then it is the Department of Education’s obligation to demonstrate that corresponding lending and borrowing took place and valid legally binding documents exist.
Instead, the over three years long dispute has so far resulted in identifying the following:
Even though I requested debt validation starting 12/16/2011 and it consequently became clear that no records exist that would validate the alleged student loan demands, the Department of Education reported the unvalidated, non-existent student loans to Experian credit bureau. The reporting was done from 06/2012 to 08/2013, and then stopped. Further, these alleged loans were only reported to one credit bureau, Experian, and not to other credit bureaus.
Based on the existing information, my conclusion is that the Department of Education is making monetary demands using faulty records.
Further, it seems that the Department of Education reported the unvalidated records as actual loans to Experian for the sake of bullying.
Similarly, the U.S. Department of Education has also been engaging in actions that I consider to be unethical at least, and also possibly fraudulent.
The Department of Education is trying to redefine, at its convenience, what constitutes debt and debt obligations, what are legally binding promissory notes, and what are legally binding contracts.
This is plain wrong.
Similarly, the Department of Education is trying to redefine its right to report unvalidated internal records to credit bureau as if these internal records were actual loans, even though no documents exist which demonstrate that lending and borrowing transactions took place, and the alleged borrower ever received as student the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support.
These kinds of business practices do not serve the interests of this country and its business community or consumers. If government agencies can redefine legal documents and monetary obligations at their convenience, then we are in an atmosphere of unpredictability and increasing instability.
By requesting that the Department of Education must furnish proof within 30 days that all of the alleged loans resulted from actual lending and borrowing transactions, your company, Experian, will send a clear signal, that when financial transactions are being handled, we all must abide by the relevant laws and commonly accepted concepts and definitions, and that includes the U.S. Department of Education. Rogue behavior and bullying, that the Department of Education has been demonstrating, are not acceptable business practices.