Attorney Christine Kingston Talks About Class Action Suits for Those with Student Loans – February 2017 Interview

Katherine:

Hello everyone, thank you so much for joining us right here on This Needs To Be Said. Our good friend attorney Christine Kingston is here with us today, and we’re going to talk about student loans again.

If you remember from our last interview, she introduced this service that she’s providing, and remember she’s a bankruptcy attorney, so we were wowed by the information that she shared on what she now offers in the way of helping people with student loans, because that’s just something that’s nagged our credit. If you miss a student loan payment, you’re just stuck, you just feel like you’re in trouble. Like it can never go away. And then when we think about bankruptcy, we think, even further, it’ll never go away. Well, Attorney Kingston has opened our eyes to many things, and she actually has some news today, hot off the press so again. Student loans, if you have them, you don’t want to tune out of this interview at all.

Welcome back Attorney Kingston. How are you?

Christine:

I’m doing great Katherine. Thanks so much for having me back. I’m excited. This just happened on Wednesday.

Katherine:

I’m excited as well. I’m excited with you. What is it? Student loans. What have you got? What do you have for us?

Christine:

Well, what happened in Wednesday is, back in the Obama administration, the consumer financial protection bureau was created as a consumer advocate, a government agency advocating for consumers. Which is surprising that in all of this right wing conservatism that our country is headed into, we actually have an advocate that fights for consumers.

The consumer financial protection bureau on Wednesday filed a complaint against Navient corporation and Navient solutions, also including Pioneer Credit Recovery. Those are loan servicers that service both federal and private student loans, and what’s fascinating is, this has been filed on behalf of all consumers, so the good news is, it’s like a class action lawsuit. If your loan is being serviced by Navient or Pioneer, then you’re probably going to be included in the complaint.

Katherine:

Okay.

Christine:

What they’re hitting them for is accounting principles and accounting practices. For example, they were never telling borrowers about their repayment options, including the income sensitive repayment plans. Income contingent. Pay as you earn. Discharging student loans when there’s total and permanent disability, or the public service forgiveness for student loans, or a teacher forgiveness for student loans.

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Katherine:

Oh wow.

Christine:

There’s a lot of programs that are available for student loans, and what we’re finding is, that the loan servicers don’t share that information freely with the public, which costs them thousands and thousands of dollars. For example, when you put your student loan into forbearance, you don’t have a payment due, but interest continues to accrue on the loan.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm.

Christine:

So it causes the loan balance to go up and not down, and consumers are confused. They don’t understand. That’s just one thing. They fail to perform all of their core duties, which is to inform them of their payment options, and explain to them how the payments were applied and properly apply payments. There was a lot of things that they didn’t do, so they’re being sued under the fair credit reporting act for reporting inaccurate, incorrect information. They’re being sued under the fair debt collection practices act for charging too much and not explaining things to consumers, and I’m excited about it because I have a Navient student loan and I can’t figure out the accounting, so I could totally understand why the consumers would be befuddled and confused by all of this.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm.

Christine:

All anyone really needs to do on it, is just stand by and let’s see what happens as this unfolds. I’ll definitely keep your listeners informed, but this is just exciting because, we’re now asking them to step up and be accountable. There’s been a lot of complaints that have happened with regards to the loan services on student loans, because they’re hired by the federal government and yet no one keeps an eye on the shop. I’ve seen student loans where they’ve been in default, and they add 18% for default charges onto the student loans, and then they compound interest on top of that. This is why we’re seeing student loans balloon up from $20,000 to $200,000.

Katherine:

Ahh, because you think, “I didn’t borrow that much for school,” but … I think a lot of people just throw that thought away that, “It’s hopeless. I’m going to owe until I die. I’m going to always owe this. It’s going to always be there. Doesn’t matter if it’s $20,000 or $200,000. I’m going to always, it’s going to always be there,” like this dark cloud over their head. I know that this is brand new, and we can’t really say what the end is going to be, or can we? What I ask is, what, as people are standing by who have student loans and especially with Navient, what could they be hoping for?

Christine:

That’s a great question. Where we go for that is, we looked at the complaint, and then we look at what they call the prayer for relief, is what they’re asking for, so really what they’re asking for is to indemnify or make whole the consumers that have been harmed by their unlawful conduct. If they get into this lawsuit, and they actually get into the accounting principles, and they determined, or the judge makes a determination, that they charged too much, the good news is, we’re going to see a lot of adjustments hopefully on a lot of Navient student loan accounts. They would be forced by the court to go back and do a correct accounting.

The bad news is, it’s not, I don’t think it’s going to get anyone out of their student loans entirely. I think this is a, in my opinion, it doesn’t eliminate the entire debt. What it will do is correct the accounting. It might bring some dollars down, so maybe it’ll get them back closer to the 20 grand rather than the 200, but it’s not going to eliminate it.

However, there is a request for a rescission or reformation of contracts where it’s necessary to take care of someone who’s been injured. A consumer that’s been harmed by uh, the type of contracts or, by this particular lawsuit or there are improper practices, so, some borrowers maybe, but I doubt it. I’m thinking that it’s just going to be a correction possible a consolation prize. Maybe we all get a check for $5 in the mail at the end.

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Katherine:

I think ultimately it’s really nice to know that there is hope. Your last time on with us, and even just, you being a bankruptcy attorney, talking about how you can help people with student loans, in bankruptcy, I think that was enlightening, but now this is further. It feels like, “Okay now, somebody understands me,” and there’s like a group of people who’s going to feel understood and not beat up on, and how many people are going to be relieved to say, “Okay, this hasn’t … ” Because student loans can keep you from, from getting a home. They see this outstanding debt, and it can say student loan, and you know it’s a federal loan or whatever but they see this outstanding, “Oh we can’t rent to you, or “We can’t sell a house to you,” or “You can’t get a car because you missed a payment,” and there’s no way to fix missing a payment for student loans when you can fix a late payment for anything else.

It’s iron clad, and you just feel defeated like I was saying before. I think if anything, the consolation prize of being able to breathe, that, I’m going to be able to, you know, try again, or, or maybe this will be sort of like a reset. It just seems hopeful. I know there’s no promise. No guarantee. We don’t know what the future holds for this, but the fact that it’s now being addressed, that now somebody is looking into the shop and saying, “What’s going on here” is a long time coming. This is good news.

Christine:

Exactly. Yes, exactly. That someone’s actually fighting for the little guys out there, that’s the great news about it, and the other thing that I’m seeing is all of these indivisible groups, and all of this grassroots advocacy by the consumers. The people, that voted their constituents, the congressmen, into their government positions. If something doesn’t move in and around student loan debt, or in and around healthcare, you know, we the people, need to take steps and contact our congressmen and write them letters and put them out on Twitter and contact them on social media, and let them know how disappointed we are that our federal government doesn’t take more action for us, and takes action only on behalf of the banks that are too big to fail, the securities exchange, and the stock traded companies, that are so large that God forbid we don’t want them to go away.

No, we don’t want any more government bailouts, and the other problem that I have is, every time we get a new president, we get a credit line increase for our entire country. How in the heck are we ever going to pay that back? That’s not leading the American people by example. That basically says, well, if the federal government’s going to give themselves a credit line increase, the American people need more debt too. It’s interesting because I’m advocating for a debt free America, and that’s very contrary to what everyone does, but I guess that’s also going to help. I’ll be around for a while. Let’s put it that way Katherine. There’s a lot of debt to get rid of.

Katherine:

Absolutely. Absolutely and people are so afraid of it, and we sweep it under the rug. It becomes an elephant in the room. We do everything, it’s like this big pain, we do everything to try to avoid it or at least make it milder, and with you around they can just get rid of the pain, period, and be able to I’ve free and not feel like, “I’m just living to pay bills,” or “I’m just living and waiting to die,” kid of thing so, you do have a big job ahead of you, and there are several things that would keep you working. Oh my goodness so, is there, there’s nothing that people need to do. Is that what you said? They just, if they, tell them again, if there’s something that then need to do for this.

Christine:

Yeah, at this time, there is no action to take other than just keep an eye on the news and the media with regards to the progress. The consumer financial protection bureau, once they get a list of all the people affected, they’ll likely receive notices as the court progresses, especially more towards when they get to settlement.

Everyone that is part of this class that is affected by this lawsuit, they have to define the parameters and figure that out, and everyone that’s in those parameters will be notified. If you don’t get notified and you want to know whether or not you’re part of the class action suit, then you can reach out to the consumer financial protection bureau. Their website is www.consumerfinance.gov. You can file a complaint with the consumer financial protection bureau, you can check in to see what they’re doing with the Navient, lawsuit as well. They would be able to advise consumers as to the status, what’s happening, and whether or not they’d be included.

Katherine:

All right, and how do they get in touch with you outside of This Needs To Be Said?

Christine:

Oh, yes, absolutely, you can call my office directly at 714-533-9210. We provide free consultations to all perspective clients. I can be reached on the web at, www.attorneychristine, spelled out, and that’s C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-E for my name. Attorneychristine.com

Katherine:

Okay. Sorry. Our exit music there. All right, Attorney Christine I want to say thank you so much for being on This Needs To Be Said once again, and until next time, have a wonderful day.

Christine:

Katherine. Thank you for having me.

Katherine:

You’re welcome. Bye now.

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