Kaja Robinson is 53 and has a daughter about to go off to college, but she is still embroiled in bizarre, kafkaesque disputes over the $17,000 student loan she took out in the 1980s: for decades, she has had to set aside whole days to call debt collectors and try to get them to acknowledge the payments she's made — for which she has paperwork, but which the lenders lost track of, causing her loans to balloon to $49,000.
At one point, Robinson was advised to file a lawsuit to clarify the matter, but she lives in Minnesota and the nearest court able to hear such a case in two states away, in Chicago. Instead, she worked out a kind of pro-forma program whereby she made a monthly $5 "good faith" payment, which satisfied the computers that she was not in default, allowing her to repair her credit and get a mortgage.
But Robinson's debts keep getting sold from one debt-buyer to another, as the fly-by-night debt vultures go bankrupt or sell off their "assets" (that is, badly documented, allegedly delinquent loans), and it starts all over again.
Robinson has no end in sight. Her $5/month program has been unilaterally erased by her debt's latest owner, and she's back to spending whole days on hold, waving her stack of yellowing paper receipts at the phone.
Kaja Robinson can't forget the hold music at her former debt collection agency's phone line.
"Oh my God, it's awful," the 53-year-old said. "I hear it in my head all the time. It's kind of screechy and eerie like a sci-fi movie."
It's just one of the stress triggers Robinson has developed in her decades-long dispute over loans she took out as a college student in the late 1980s.
A Minneapolis woman's 'bizarre and surreal' decades-long loan dispute [Cody Nelson/MPR]
(via Naked Capitalism)