I recently received another letter from the Student Loans Company Ltd of the UK. For those of you who don’t know, when I was a student in the UK, between 1991 and 1995 I took out four loans with the government run company. When I took out these loans the company had a system whereby you did not need to start making payments until you had a job and were earning at least 85% of the UK average income.
The year after I left Salford University in England, I sent out my deferment forms with proof showing that I did not need to pay back the loans. The following year, by which time I had moved to the United States, I filled out the forms and sent them off again. This is where the problems started because the Student Loans Company never sent notification that they had received the forms. I eventually found out that my loans were in arrears and they wanted their money.
This was the start of something that has now dragged on for the last 13 plus years. The loans company keeps sending me notices of arrears and the occasional letter from a business called “Smith Lawson Recovery Services” threatening legal action if I don’t pay the amount owed by a certain date (which by the time I get the letter, the date has already passed).
All of this used to really worry me, but about a year ago I did an internet search of the Student Loans Company. It turns out that the loans company has screwed up on thousands of people and it was not just me that was having problems. I also found a very useful website, The Consumer Forums, which provided all kinds of information on the Student Loans Company. I discovered that my loan is a simple contract covered under the Consumer Credit Act of 1974 and that the Student Loans Company cannot enforce the debt without a court order, except they cannot get a court order because I have to be living in England or Wales for that to apply.
So now I have no fear of the Student Loans Company. What they did was wrong and they refused to fix the problem. Even worse is that they applied about £250 in what I discovered to be illegal charges to my account. From what I have read on the Consumer Forums, the Student Loans Company will not acknowledge their incompetence and illegal behavior unless you take them to county court. Unfortunately, I cannot do this because I am living in the United States. I have also discovered that under the UK law if I do not acknowledge the debt for six years it will become statute-barred, which simply means that after six years they cannot go to court to enforce the debt.
I last wrote to them in April 2007, so I am some way off the statute-barred limit. They do keep sending me letters that I am in arrears and owe charges, but I have not replied to their mail. For now, I am going to sit tight until April 2013 (and hopefully longer) so that the loan will be statute-barred. Of course, they will not tell you the loans are barred, you have to inform them it is barred while not acknowledging the debt.
Some people might think this is inappropriate not paying back what I borrowed. I do not have any problems with it. After all, until the early 1990′s most British students received a free university education paid for by the government. Those people in government who introduced student loans got a free education, but then decided to deny what they had received and enjoyed to subsequent generations. Plus, I see so much waste in the British government that I don’t see why I should pay the £4800.