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Debt Stories | Occupied Stories

Tag Archive | "debt stories"

Another Government-Backed Swindle


I originally borrowed $20,000 from a 4 year college . I worked night shift in an urban hospital as a phlebotomist. The hospital was reimbursing the cost of some of my classes. One semester I had a 4.0 GPA and received a letter from the president of the university as well as from a state senator. In 1992, I dropped out of college to care for my mother, dying 6 weeks later from cancer. At the time I was planning on returning to college and finish my degree in nursing, physical therapy, or athletic training.

On a bike tour in Northern New Mexico,  I met a pilot that inspired me to become a commercial pilot. Upon returning to Ohio I began flying at a local airport with the intention of becoming a professional pilot. Knowing I needed a high-paying occupation to pay off my already accumulated student loans, I researched pilots salaries and learned pilots salaries approach $85,000 within 3-4 years after school. Wages for more experience was reported up to $150,000 after gaining 10-15 years. I always thought the loans would be insignificant compared to the initial cost. I was in top physical shape, and possessed an excellent demeanor for the rigors  of flying.

I contacted a number of out of state schools, but was sold by recruiters from a community college in Colorado. I moved to  Colorado in June 1994 and waited one year to begin my flight training, in order to avoid out of state tuition. I finished most all the ground classes including instrument, flight engineer, and commercial. I passed my FAA CATS instrument rating with a 94%, which is reported as the most difficult for pilots. I was on the dean’s list and had a 3.13 GPA. I received my Private Pilot Certificate
in 1996, and passed my first stage of my instrument training when the college advised me that they could no longer secure financing to continue my training. Since I had no other way to finish my training, I realized I had become the victim of a bait and switch scheme.

I have resorted to living with/imposing on various family members. I have paid $6,270. I currently owe $90,044.81 plus a reported $30,000 in collections fees. I am now 56 years of age and have been robbed of the chance to have any quality of life. I have not been able to get married and have children, and I consider what happened to me to be tantamount to genocide by financiers/ school officials. My estimate of the the wages I have lost over this period would be in excess of $1,000,000. Is the system that corrupt that the public doesn’t recognize that justice needs to be served for the miserable conditions these criminals  shamelessly cause?

In an article bemoaning the value of a college education, a Massachusetts attorney commented that when he needed a plumber/tradesman, he can’t call a person with a degree in social work. Given his arrogance, I challenge this Sturbridge attorney, when needing a package overnighted, a vacation flight for his family, or  a flight to attend a professional obligation, to consider calling another attorney. What makes this idiot think that his career is worthy of more merit than another occupation? This reminds me of
financiers/political officials that attempt to harbor shame on harder working individuals than themselves. My father warned me when I was a child that there are people in this world that are so crooked, they would need to be screwed into the ground when they die. The federal government had no business getting involved in funding higher education in the first place.

-Wright Way Corrigan-

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I’m Proud of My Debt


My main complaint is that those who need cheap loans the most get quoted the highest interest rates based on poor credit ratings.  This ought to be addressed by the banking sector – it is totally counterproductive.  I’m proud of my debt.  I use zero interest credit cards for monthly purchases each month and clear them at month’s end.  I’m busy looking for a lower interest loan to replace an existing high interest small building loan, also used for debt consolidation.  I’m sucessfully reducing my overdraft by a small monthly amount.  I’m repaying another handed over overdraft by arrangement at a small amount per month, ditto a council rent in advance loan, ditto some rent arrears, ditto utilities arrears.  I recently cleared a small personal loan and hope to do the same with a second one soon.  I am only just this month free from late penalties on all my monthly payments.  I’d love a low or zero interest loan if anyone knows where to find one!  DEFAULTING IS NOT AN OPTION!  I am glad to take responsibility for my debts, but really resent the crippling interest which exacerbates my problems.

-Anonymous-

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Crushed by Debt


Born into a middle class family who owned a mom & pop grocery store operating on a cash basis, you may not realize it but you’re taught that cash is king. Qualifications for loans or credit cards were never discussed. The real world is quite different on your own, parents deceased, store gone, just a working stiff trying to live the American dream. Land contract you thought bought your house is defaulted on by mortgagee and about to be foreclosed. IRS wants payment plan? Under water is not a reasonable term, more like frozen in ice. Credit report agencies won’t budge, a three way triplecross. What are my chances?

-Jon Tucci-

 

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Senior Citizens are Bound to College Loan Debt unto Death They Do Part


I took out a student loan of $4,000, for my son when he was still in college–he’s now forty-three years old, so you do the arithmetic.

The principal is now well over $10,000. I now draw social security and am required by law to send a percentage of my (meager) monthly social security check to Sallie Mae towards the interest on that student loan for the remainder of my days on planet earth–unless and until the president of the U.S. grants me a discharge of obligation.

Student loans cannot be discharged under bankruptcy. One can be old, broken and homeless and still be required to repay their student loan.

We need to start a movement to have the president discharge college loan debts (parent or student) of any senior citizen whose sole source of income is social security.

I’d volunteer for that!

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Massive Debt and No Job to Justify It


I received a B.A. in English and communication in 1999.  I couldn’t find any work except for sporadic temping, and by 2001, I was no longer able to find any of that, no matter how many staffing agencies with which I enrolled.  I had to file for bankruptcy in 2001, which left me only the student loan debt.

In 2003, I moved from Indianapolis to New York to begin a master’s program in cinema and media, graduating in 2005.  A week after I graduated, I had to call an ambulance, because I couldn’t get out of bed other than to roll out and crawl to where my phone was charging.  I was diagnosed with scoliosis, multiple herniated discs, and sciatica in both legs.  I had been suffering form chronic foot pain (finally diagnosed as plantar fasciitis in 2011), already affecting the sort of work I could do, since the mid-1990s. In 2009, I was 29 years old, and my regular doctor said that the only way I could have gotten through high school without the scoliosis diagnosis was through the incompetence of others.

At that point, I had to go on welfare, which is a slave labor scam, in which they force you to work or attend programs for 40 hours per week, paying you $36.50 for each of those weeks, paid in biweekly installments of $73.

By January 2007, I was working again.  My total student debt burden was $58,000 after consolidation, but my job paid $8.50 an hour, and lasted only 13 months.  During that time, my father passed away, and left me $37,000, but given the nature of my training and my lack of a vehicle, I chose to remain in New York City.  I eventually found a $30/hour teaching job in 2009, but it was 2.5 hours per week.  I was not retained after completing the terms of the contract because they were dissatisfied with the results after throwing me into a classroom with a textbook and a confusing syllabus that I kept questioning them about for weeks and weeks, then when the class was nearly over, they told me what I should have been doing, which they had never previously bothered to tell me no matter how much I asked, insisting that my education meant that I knew the material, even though I never knew what the material they wanted taught was, and teaching from the textbook chapter by chapter was g
oing faster than they intended, and I was too inexperienced to determine wht my students’ difficulties were.

From there, I was out of work until I work from home job that I landed in September of 2010, but was let go after three months because I had a slow computer, and with an $8 an hour salary, could not possibly afford to replace.  From there, I got tutoring work for $15 an hour, but never got more than 12 hours per week (and usually less, due to frequent cancellations), no matter how much I asked for more work.

By this point, my savings were gone, and I was about to get evicted.  A friend hired me at $12 an hour, 30 hours per week, or $18,400 per year, but when she realized that I needed marketing training to do what she wanted from me, she let me go.  The job allowed me to get a one-shot deal to keep me in my apartment, but now again without a job, I was headed straight back to housing court.

Almost immediately, I was hired by a graduate school colleague, who had me working from home, but refused to pay me unless he got usable results.  He then claimed that he had work for me in Jacksonville, Florida.  He told me he would give me $18,000 for the first three months, after which he would give me a raise, a relocation bonus, and health insurance, so I moved all belongings into storage and went, completely unable to stand without a cane by the time I finished loading it.  The job was nowhere close to what he described, and after 3.5 months, he fired me for taking four hours to return a phone call on a Saturday, stiffing me for the entire previous week.  I then contracted strep throat and had to go to the emergency room.

Soon after, I was on my way back to New York, but none of my friends could accommodate me for very long, and I was forced into the shelter system, even though I was granted $126 per week in unemployment benefits, since it’s not enough to live on, and I had penalty weeks, as well.

I learned recently that I have nearly $300 in tax debts due to a miscalculation in 2009, proving Mitt Romney’s 47% claim false, since I have never earned a total yearly income above the poverty line and owe income taxes.  I also owe nearly $300 because Shands Hospital rejected my New York state Medicaid; therefore, they are still trying to pursue me.  My student loan debt is expected to be $87,000 by the time I pay it off, but it seems like it will never happen when I have to keep getting it deferred.  I also owe another $3,000 for my old apartment, since I had a lease, and Verizon and ConEdison are continuing to hound me, even though I contest the latter, charging me for time after I had moved away.  The debts really aren’t high enough to justify another bankruptcy, but thy are also impossible to pay until or unless I am able to get a job commensurate with my education.  I have applied for approximately 740 jobs between May 5, when I was let got from the job in Jacksonville,
and yesterday, September 24.  To date, I have interviewed with six companies, two staffing agencies, and a “business opportunity” to which the tutoring service supposedly recommended me, even though I had no money to pay the startup fees and have never last more than a few weeks in a sales job.  The vast majority of the time, I get no response, or a form letter that they have gone with someone who has more experience.  Even earning certifications in Adobe products has done nothing but get my foot in the door long enough for an interview with a company that finds my experience lacking.  I am being faulted for taking the only work made available to me.

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Could be Worse!


New York, NY – The title of my story comes from a popular children’s series, which chronicled the fabulous tales that a grandpa recounted to his grandkids at bedtime. Though terrible things would befall him, he’d wryly state, “Could have been worse!”

I was one of the lucky ones whose parents footed most of my undergrad bill. But, between the remainder and what I took out for my (first) master’s program, I accumulated about $55,000 in debt. Federal debt, so hey, not so bad, right? It could be worse.

Both my undergrad and master’s degrees were in an “impractical” subject.  However, I was not impractical in my assumptions; I never expected to be heavily remunerated for my work. I  figured I could get by well enough and eventually secure a middle-class position (and a master’s degree is a de facto requirement in my field for that sort of position).

Even if I failed to find suitable, stable work in my field, I could always get a job and be comfortable. Afterall, I had done so during my three-year higher-education hiatus. I always had something to fall back on. Not so bad, not at all.

I completed my master’s nearly two years ago. It was not the time to be looking for jobs in my field (hell, when will it be?) Besides, I had an OK job, making just enough, with full benefits, including health insurance paid for by my employer – was I going to get that at some entry-level position? Health insurance is crucial for me now, as I am on several medications and one costs over $200 per month without coverage.

Boo hoo, right? It could be worse. I have a job, insurance, and make enough to qualify me as lower-middle class, at least in New York. I may have taken on too much debt ($30K would have been more reasonable), but I only took out “responsible” federal loans. I have an Income-Based Repayment Plan. I can afford my bills. I have a great credit score.

Here’s where it goes south: I pay nearly $300 a month in loans, and that doesn’t even cover interest, which continues to accrue. I also had periods of forbearance when I was unemployed (helloooo, 2008!) With IBR, my debt is discharged after 25 years of payment, but I will be in my 50s by then. Even assuming I make more eventually (that’s where the second master’s program comes in – and I’m paying out of pocket), I’ll just barely be able to make a little headway on the principal. So yeah, a lifetime of debt for me. Can’t discharge it! I could run up $20K in credit card debt and declare  bankruptcy, but it wouldn’t do a damned thing for my student loans.

Every month I think about where that money could be going. Savings. A vacation. Even simple things like some new clothes, healthier groceries, books, charity. But still, not so bad.

I have other debt, too – about $1700 on one credit card, mostly accumulated during my many months of unemployment. At its peak it was close to $3K.

But it’s my fault, right? That’s our society for you. Protestant, guilt-mongering, individualistic. The ones reaping the profits have no culpability, didn’t you know? Those are our “job-creators” (aka a new spin on an old classic, the rentier).

But what’s the heart of all of this, of my discontent? Not my depleted earnings. No, not really, though that money would be nice. Afterall, we’re implements of capitalism and we are in fact capital itself, in the form of living labor – all our earnings are depleted! It’s not bankruptcy law, either, though that’s beyond fucked up (feel free to edit profanity – I don’t care, I just write how I would speak).

It’s the fear. The fear that global capital – which by definition has seeped into every corner of the world and is devouring itself as it can no longer move outwardly – is killing our will to fight, and to understand it.

Many people feel powerless, and they don’t know why. I do, but feel powerless to reach them. It’s very hard; people are used to the world-view that has been imposed on them. Unless they see things like student debt, credit card debt, unemployment and poverty not as failed policy decisions needing reform but rather as heads of the same hydra that creates war, racism, environmental devastation, and wreaks havoc on bodies, minds, and our very human essence, then we are lost. We face the potential rise of fascism, of environmental apocalypse, of never-ending war and neo-serfdom. All due to our misunderstanding, our misplacement, our despair and inaction.

Though I feel the fear, I do not feel despair. It isn’t too late. It just isn’t. Look at the world for what it is and the truths will be apparent.

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Bankruptcy–out of spite, more than anything


Virginia Beach, VA – My story starts in 1987 when I won a car.  I was 19 years old.  I was a restaurant worker and community college student at the time.  Not much in the way of income; I was paying for school as I went along.  My car was declared as income on my taxes, so I was suddenly in a higher tax bracket and credit card companies were knocking each other over trying to give me cards.  I got two:  one with a $3500 limit, and one with a $5,000 limit.  I was rich!  I was 19, had a brand new car, and loads of credit.   I carried those balances well into my 30’s.  Along the way, I applied to a “real” college and financial aid, and along came more credit cards and balance transfers and personal loans. I blame no one; I should have educated myself on money management, but I just didn’t care when I was in my twenties.

I got a “real” job and was making good money.  I started paying down my debt.  I went to a consumer credit company to help me.  (I had a Sears card; they were the only ones who would not work with the consumer credit company and kept the   percentage rate at 21%.   Eventually, I had everything paid off and I was only paying my student loan.   I have a federal loan, and I don’t mind paying it off.  I don’t need it to be waived. I knew when I applied that I would pay for my education.  I’m sorry others find themselves so stuck with their student loans, but I want to pay my student loan debt.

Anyway, after I was “debt free”, the offers for new credit came pouring in.  I decided to get a couple new cards “just in case.”  And a personal loan.  Then 9/11 happened.  I worked in an advertising industry.  Times were strained just before 9/11; the economy was starting to show some wear (yep, George W was just in office…thanks for that $300 dollar check, Mr. President!)  Then actors went on strike and the advertising industry got hit pretty good.  Then 9/11 happened and it really shook the country as a whole.  The economy really suffered.  Advertising came almost to a halt.  It was a domino effect:  I saw small businesses close their doors because bigger business had to cut costs.  Local restaurants that relied on lavish business lunches folded because no one was ordering.  I heard horror stories about people showing up to work and finding the door locked and closed for business.

My health suffered.  Luckily I had health insurance at the time.  I had to have emergency surgery.  For me it was the last, life-changing straw.  I planned for a few months, but I quit my job and moved back home with my parents–from California to Virginia.  I carried debt with me.  I planned to go back to school and become a teacher.  That was 10 years ago.  I started out waiting tables.  Then my mom had a stroke.  I stayed home longer than I meant too.  I worked various odd jobs.  I finally found one that was decent pay and I loved it.  But the business was owned by a married couple who had started it on a whim and didn’t know how to keep it going.  I got laid off.

That was in 2007.   I was in debt, had paid some things off, taken out a new personal loan to help pay off other things.  I was playing the credit game.  Then I was unemployed and the credit game wasn’t so funny anymore.

I tried to reason with the credit card companies.  Bank of America and Citibank were the major ones.  I had Capital One, too.  I found a very low-paying job, but it had health insurance, so I took it.  But I could not meet my monthly credit card bills.  I went back to Consumer Credit Counseling.  I started getting things under control.  But things were horribly out of control and it was Citibank that was at the center of it.

Consumer Credit Counseling consolidates your debt.  They work with the credit card companies to lower interest rates and they make the monthly payments.  I would pay Consumer Credit on let’s say the 5th of each month.  They would pay the credit card companies on let’s say the 10th of each month.

Well, Citibank decided that they needed the first payment to be made between the 15th and 31st of each month, or the contract with Consumer Credit would not be valid.  I got a letter from Citibank after the first payment was made on the 10th, and they said they needed a payment made on the 15th.  I alerted Consumer Credit.  They resubmitted.  But apparently somewhere along the way no one noticed the fine print that the payment HAD TO BE MADE ON THE 15TH. Not the 10th…oh no, that was five days to early.  Or maybe that was 25 days too late.  Either way, it wasn’t on the 15th.  So, Citibank started charging late fees, they raised the percentage rate to over 30% and I forget what the other stupid fee was, but this went on for almost a year before I realized it.  I was getting collection calls, but was ignoring them because I thought I was making regular payments and didn’t care.  Well I was making regular payments, but they were below Citibank’s minimum payment.  Thanksgiving D
ay I got an over-nighted letter from them saying I was being taken to court if I didn’t bring my account current.

I opened my old bills, saw that, yes, they were taking the monthly payment from Consumer Credit, but it didn’t count for anything.  The monthly fees they were charging were more than my payments.

I was devastated.  I didn’t feel like I could win.  I was angry and depressed.  I was in a huge hole.  President Obama was newly elected.  AND THE BANKS WERE ASKING FOR BAILOUTS!

Tha was the last straw for me.  The banks needed to be bailed out, but they sure weren’t bailing anyone else out.  They didn’t even try to help me.  Citibank wouldn’t reduce the percentage rate, remove all the late fees…  All because THEY DID NOT GET A PAYMENT ON THE EXACT DATE THEY WANTED IT.  Paying a few days early counted for nothing!  It’s a farce.   No one believed me until I showed them the bills and letters with the dates circled.

I decided my only way out was to declare bankruptcy.  I did it more out of spite than anything.  I did it to bail myself out because no one would help me.  I wrote a letter to President Obama when the bail outs were a big subject.  I wrote to the Governor of Virginia.  I eventually got a letter from his office saying he didn’t deal with that; I need to contact some federal agency.  By then the wheels were in motion.

I completed my bankruptcy almost two years ago.  And immediately I got my final letter saying my bankruptcy was done, I got credit card offers from those same banks.

That is why I hate the banks and I am for Occupy Wallstreet.  That is my personal story.  They are crooks and should be held accountable.  And to offer someone who just declared bankruptcy new credit cards is one of the lowest things they can do.  It just proves that they want to keep the country in debt.  My blood is boiling all over again.  Thanks for the forum to share.  By the way, I am NOT ashamed.  I did my best to pay things back.  Like I said, I am in bankruptcy out of spite more than anything.  And how freeing it is!!!!   I hope others find relief.

Amanda-

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