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Credit reporting over very old loans

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    Posted: 04/October/2017 at 8:56pm
This will be a rather long read. I'd like to thank anyone who takes the time to read it and provides any insight.

I'm an currently an expat. Have been living outside Canada for nearly 20 years. I literally discovered last July that I owed the province of Ontario for a student loan that was unpaid from the 1990's. I discovered this during an interview for a position with the federal gov't when I was asked about debt. When I said no, the interviewer said "are you sure? You don't owe the Ontario gov't? It's on your credit report". Speechless at the time, I simply told him that I had not been back for nearly 17 years....quite simply "I haven't BEEN here! When did I borrow money?".

The interviewer did understand my point and we continued on. It turned out to be successful. I will be offered a position once this item on my credit file has been 'resolved'. Fair enough...I went to speak with my banker @ TD. Spoke with him and asked him if there was anything on my credit file. He pulled up my file and nothing showed. All was good. I then did a credit karma item and there was an item in collection from 2 years ago from TCR. I had received calls and notices in the past, but I assume anyone who contacts you by phone asking for money is a scam. Proper organizations send letters. But this was on my credit file so it needed to be addressed.

I had written to the interviewer this following email:

I’m not entirely sure where to begin on this since I was more or less blindsided when you told me this during our interview last July.  After the meeting, I went to my banker at TD t pull m credit report and nothing showed up there.  I later pulled an Equifax and Transition report and found 1 item from TCR that was placed on March, 2015 for $1*,*** as the date of last inactivity for the Ministry of Ontario.

First, I’m not here to make a payment of activity, 2nd this thing suddenly appeared out of nowhere (15 years after I left the country) and I contacted TCR.  They told me it was for a student loan, they could not provide me the initial date of the loan, except that the information was correct (as I expected).  I asked how this was possible to suddenly appear on my credit report after 15 years since I left and was told to contact the Ministry of Finance if I didn’t feel the information was correct.  So I did.

The Ontario Ministry of Finance stated I owed money for a student loan.  They were not able to provide any other information other than a balance.  To get any details, I was to contact the collection agency (TCR).  So back to contacting the agency I spoke with a rather unpleasant person who told me it was a student loan and there was activity on it.  I informed him that was complete and (excuse my language) utter bullsh*t since there has been NO payments to any account for student loans for at least 17 years (the time I was out of Canada) and if they were re-aging some debt claimed on me, they needed to verify the validity of this claim on me.

This escalated to their director **** (spelling?) @ TCR who I spoke with concerning several things:

1) That there is a debt that actually exists (which requires a signature on a contract)
2) The date of first delinquency (which is over 10 years beyond any reporting date and should never have appeared on my file)
3) Why didn’t anyone send me some notice or litigate?  

It seems my credit file is held hostage with this item since no one can provide me with a contract to verify this, yet everyone seemed to pass the buck to another agency to verify the info.  Not exactly a pleasant scenario.

**** had since contacted the Ministry of Finance to get the relevant documents for this loan but it has been over 1 month and nothing has appeared yet (I’m to sure how long I’m supposed to wait).  This was relayed to me after I called TCR this morning to follow up on this claim filed against me.

So I contact Equifax and Transition to dispute the reporting time of the debt.  What I discovered after some frustrating service calls to the Phillipines was that they email the agencies to verify the information and receive an answer (this is essentially their investigation).  When I enquired as to them getting any documentation or verification, I was told “we are just a database company…..you need to get this from the agency”.

So at the moment, TCR is supposed to be in process of validating this debt against me.   I find this more or less frustrating since I have no judgement against me, I haven’t been sued, but these little ******r’s (I am not in the happiest frame of mine) have put something on my file that can affect my future mortgage rates and potential employment after FAR too long….but they reported it as a ‘recent’ debt.   To this I have no clue what this is….and I have the feeling that no one is going to easily admit they made an error until I exhaust the appeal processes.

That is where I am currently at…

As to your question, as to what I intend to do with this.  At the moment I am not going to simply pay $1*,*** on demand out of the blue without any proof that I owe anything.  That seems somewhat obvious and reasonable.  I’m not sure what a SKIP account is…but if I’m found to actually owe money and it was not relayed to me due to someone else’s screw up, then I have no choice but to pay what I owe and come to some arrangement.  However, I could not look myself in the mirror and pay that sum on demand after all this time, out of the blue with no proof.

So at this moment TCR is going to try to validate this debt which has not yet been done in nearly 1 month and I suspect they are not going to find the papers they need to show me I owe them.  Being a gov’t loan, the government will receive its money, but I don’t understand why they did not litigate and get a judgement.   I have yet to be provided anything other than a letter from Transunion stating ‘all information is correct and factual’ from TCR regarding my recent activity in March 2015 (when I was not here) so the reporting agencies seem to be doing a very superficial investigation regarding debt.

If the forces will not continue the application until this debt is either removed or paid, then I could be looking at several more years of this since this will could take some time.  The irony is that I have spent more on travel + accommodations + car rentals to be here for processing than $1*,***.

I had the chance to speak with **** and he told me that applicants needed not to be absolutely perfect and there was some leeway in some listed debts such as student  loans (since we eventually pay what we owe to the gov’t).  I’m not sure what you can do in this regard.  But I would prefer not to pay $1*,*** to be considered in order to save time in the recruitment process to later be told I would not be considered for some other reason (or some other debt that magically appears and needs to be resolved).

I hope this helps you understand my current status and state of mind.

-----------------------------

TCR had sent me a load of papers and documents (nearly 20 items) to validate the debt and it seems somewhere, sometime, somehow for reasons that seem to surprise me that something was missed and one portion of my student loan had gone into default. I had notified the prov/fed gov'ts of my departing, left forwarding contact info and never heard a peep from anyone.

The province sent me a letter stating certain facts. The first being the loan did not have any statute of limitations for collections. The second being there was no limitation regarding the reporting of debt sent to collections that had no statute of limitations. The credit reporting act is listed as follows with edit:

Information included in consumer report
(2) A consumer reporting agency shall not report,
(f) information regarding any debt or collection if,
(i) more than seven years have elapsed since the date of last payment on the debt or collection, or
(ii) where no payment has been made, more than seven years have elapsed since the date on which the default in payment or the matter giving rise to the collection occurred,
unless the creditor or the creditor’s agent confirms that the debt or collection is not barred by statute and the confirmation appears in the file;unless the creditor or the creditor’s agent confirms that the debt or collection is not barred by statute and the confirmation appears in the file;

I'm not entirely sure what confirmation of the debt refers to. But as I wrote earlier, Equifax and Transunion simply send a query to the collection agency if there is money owed and this is simply confirmed. I find it hard to believe it can be this simple.

Last evening I contacted and spoke with the manager @ TCR and thanked her for taking the time to send me the documentation. I asked her what options were available and she provided me 2:

1. Pay the full amount and it will be removed from my credit report
2. Pay in installments over 2 years and it will be removed.
3. Make payments and the collection will be removed after it's paid off.

I told her that I was not able to produce the sum and she then went through a financial questionnaire. I answered her questions and she agreed with me that I would not be able to provide the full amount. She even suggested that some people borrow money from family members or get loans to which I immediately stopped her stating quite clearly that she cannot suggest I borrow money from family or take out a loan for this debt full stop.

I asked her about the benefit of actually beginning payments if this would remain on my credit file. She told me that the balance would become reduced over time, but it would remain as a collection item on my credit file. I then asked her if it would be possible to transfer it to an open credit item after I started making payments. She refused. "So what is the benefit to paying then?" I asked her. "Either way I pay and it remains on my file or I don't and nothing really changes. I don't live there, I haven't paid taxes in 17 years...the lien on my SIN hasn't collected anything. If you're approaching me with this after nearly 2 decades, I'd like to feel I'm not getting screwed when addressing this, because it feels like there is no benefit to paying." She reiterated that her 'client' did not have that option.

"I guess we're at an impass then." I replied. To me, it's more the principle of being handed a bill after so long. It may be there fair enough, but I'd like to address it with as little pain as possible and make the province wait for it as they showed up on my credit report 15 years later.

She told me she would have to contact with her client and call her back after 48 hours.

As I don't like having anything hanging over my head either officially or unofficially, let alone having to explain something like that in an interview what options are there that I'm not seeing?

Ideally, I'd love to pay $100/mo, have it returned to open status on my credit report and move on. I'd even be willing to pay a % of the sum as a total settlement in writing. I can still continue with my life (my credit in Canada is over 700) both back home and overseas with little to no impact on my career or savings. I just did not like having to answer that question when it appeared on my reporting history when it was not there before.

Any suggestions, options, ideas?

Thanks again for taking the time to read this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Royal-NCO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/October/2017 at 9:01am
It sounds to me like this debt should be statute barred.  The limitation period was removed for the Ontario portion of student loans, but I am pretty sure it was still in place at the time you took out those loans.  However, I have no way of confirming this.

Without knowing the history of your loan, its hard to comment.  You wouldn't be the first person to believe you've made full payment only to discover a piece of your loan that got lost.  These loans were in multiple pieces from that time period, and if at any point you were behind on payments of in default, you could have lost track of a piece of your loan.

Personally, I would pay an expert to examine the status of your loans fully.  Determine if your loan should be statute barred.  If in the end you owe the money, and its not statute barred, it sounds to me like you have at least some money available to pay, therefore either pay in full or go through the rehabilitation process on the Ontario portion of your loan.

Given that one piece of your loan has been misplaced somehow, I would make a real point of determining the actual status of all other parts of your loans.  However, be very careful not to put anything in writing or make payment until you're certain of your status.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Royal-NCO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/October/2017 at 9:05am
By the way, this is a very confusing comment: "I haven't BEEN here! When did I borrow money?".

Did you or did you not take out student loans at any point from OSAP.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/October/2017 at 8:11pm
I think I get the comment...   at the time they asked about owing the govt and no date of the debt was mentioned..... there was no reference to student loans.  At that time, the OSAP was actually managed by the banks... so it would be a reasonable response to the question. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chicken Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/October/2017 at 11:42pm
When I was in the interview, I had never seen any collection on my file for nearly a decade. In fact, I was out of the country for 8 straight years and had to re-establish my credit for my future mortgage, car insurance rates and existing within the system again. Over time I had built up a credit score just over 800 and all was good in the world.

I currently have 4 credit cards in Canada. My most recent one was approved last summer (AMEX gold card) and never blinked when offered a higher rate. My credit availability is in the 6 figure range.

When the interviewer spoke with me and mentioned the amount, I looked at him rather stupidly and with genuine surprise. When I said I wasn't here... he understood the meaning since any reporting of a debt on my credit file (which are considered recent and active debts) were a complete surprise. From nothing to something overnight. At this point I'm wondering is someone borrowed money in my name while gone...but no other credit balances were appearing. When people call me asking for money or to 'verify' my personal info either by email or phone call I do what the police have repeatedly told the public, to simply hang up the phone and do not communicate with them.

The papers I got from TCR are from the 1990's. I'm 15,000 km's away so I'm getting family to scan and send me these documents. Since TCR has given me the info showing these debts are far beyond the credit limitation reporting period (as the amount went into default before the credit law changes in 2004), they should not appear on my credit file.

The letter given to me by the province seems to be a standard form letter and the particular dates do not seem to match those circumstances.

Equifax and Transunion have been quite clear on this that they require supporting documentation regarding the dates of any debt and the DOFD. Ironically, by providing me with copies of the original documentation from TCR, they have given me papers with date stamps proving the DOFD themselves directly.

I recall Johnny mentioning here that debts that went into default before 2004 fall under the previous credit reporting rules before the changes in 2004. For myself, this seems to be the case and hopefully I will have this 'collection' removed from my report as it is far too old to be there after 17 years.

That is what I was referring to.
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