Student loan debt is one of the most critical issues affecting today’s work force. Graduates often come out of school with the weight of tens of thousands of dollars in debt holding them back from moving forward with their lives.
If that wasn’t bad enough, a new lawsuit alleges that millions of those borrowers may have been the victims of intentionally damaging lending practices.
Navient, which branched off from Sallie Mae and currently handles the loans of more than 12 million customers, was called out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in three separate lawsuits for failing borrowers on multiple levels, according to The Washington Post.
“Navient has systematically and illegally failed borrowers at every stage of repayment,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said on Wednesday. “These unlawful practices have cost student-loan borrowers across the country both heartache and money. And we are working to make sure they do not happen again.”
The accusations against Navient suggest that it instructed employees to misinform customers about their options, often suggesting they allow their loans to go into forbearance so that they can acquire more interest. The CFPB estimates that Navient acquired as much as $4 billion in interest from doing so between January 2010 and March 2015.
Navient, which is one of the largest lenders in the company with control of over $300 million government and private loans, was also accused of a long list of other offenses, including not making customers aware of income-based repayment plans, damaging borrower’s credit history, incorrectly processing payments and not acting on customers’ complaints.
The lending company denied all of the allegations and went as far as to suggest that they were politically motivated.
“The timing of this lawsuit — midnight action filed on the eve of a new administration — reflects their political motivations,” the company stated. “We cannot and will not accept agenda-driven ultimatums designed to get headlines rather than help for student borrowers. We will vigorously defend against these false allegations and continue to help our customers achieve financial success.”
Long story, short, if you or anyone you know is currently dealing with student loans, check to see who your lending company is. The Los Angeles Times reports that if any customers of Navient feel that their situations fall into the wrongdoings listed in the lawsuit, they should file a complaint with the CFBS through their website or by calling (855) 411-2372.