The following is a letter I received from a reader who read an article I wrote recently on Truthout. This letter is to President Obama and focuses on Allied Interstate, Inc., one of the student loan collection parasites that has found a host — students who have defaulted on loans. Allied’s business is to collect student loans. Allied, as you will read, is itself, much like all predatory companies an egregious violator of the law.
Once you read this letter by a reader, if you feel strongly about this matter, please let Allied know. You can call or write them at:
April 25, 2012
The President of the United States of America The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
As I begin writing this letter, I estimate the chances that you will actually read it as 30/70. Working as an Executive Administrative Assistant, I can only imagine how many individuals you have that open, read and then forward correspondence to you based on what they think is “hot.” I am, however, also carbon-copying this correspondence to other individuals within the government structure in the hopes that at least one of them will take what I am about to say seriously and perhaps put some ‘wheels’ into motion or, at the very least, think.
I am writing to you to express my concern and dismay regarding some information I came across while getting my ‘ducks in a row,’ so to speak, before I graduate from college within the next year. At present, I am one of the fortunate ones -apparently a small minority, it would seem -as I was already gainfully employed when I made the decision to return to school and pursue my degree.
As a little background, I am 53 years old. I began going to college back in the late 80s and early 90s. I had young children at that time so my educational pursuits took a rather on-again/off-again route. I was a low-income, single parent and was able to take advantage of the Pell Grant program and luckily, many of the classes I took were transferrable when I made the decision to once and for all obtain a degree. It took me over 20 years to work on an Associate’s Degree (which I never did obtain!), but I am now just five classes from my Bachelor’s. This time around, however, I will be graduating with student loan debt and while I will not get into a debate on whether or not I think my education will be worth the price I will end up paying, I am grateful I will not be among the ranks of those college students who will be graduating at the same time as I that are entering such a bleak and barren employment landscape
Which brings me to the point of this letter. I was performing research for one of my class papers when I came across an article on the Federal Trade Commission’s website that discussed a rather substantial fine that was levied against a debt collection company d.b.a. Allied Interstate, Inc. for engaging in egregious and unlawful practices against consumers.
(http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/10/alliedinterstate/shtm). I did further research and based on numerous consumer complaint websites, it appears that this company continues to practice many of the behaviors that caused them to be fined in 2010. I then performed research on the Department of
Education’s website concerning the ramifications for a student should he/she default on student loans that were underwritten by the United States government and detailed on one of its pages was a listing of the companies that the U. S. Department of Education contracts with to collect on student loan debt and –
10 and behold listed in the second row was “Allied Interstate, Inc.” (http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DCS/collection.agencies.html).
I had to ask myself which I found more unsettling -the irony of this finding or the dismay that the monies this business paid in fines for its egregious and unlawful behavior more than likely came from the monies that the United States government pays them to do what they were fined for in the first place! And where did these dollars come from? Me and millions of other taxpayers. People who want an education in order to get a good paying job because that is what our government tells us we need to do in order to be competitive -People who want to send their children to college because our government tells us that future generations need to be well-educated in order to get jobs that will pay a living wage and keep America competitive. Competitive for whom? Businesses that continue to outsource jobs overseas? Businesses that spend big money to influence politiCians to see things their way? Businesses like Allied Interstate, Inc.? Believe it or not, sir, the degree I am pursuing is a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and quite honestly, the biased and skewed information contained in many of my textbooks has reinforced my view of the realities of ‘business’ pulling so much wool over the American public’s eyes, as well as reinforcing the sense of inequality and powerlessness that I and a great majority of Americans feel on a continual basis.
I have read of your administration’s efforts to examine the practices of the companies that the Department of Education contracts with to collect on defaulted student loans
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-30/obama-plans-overhaul-of-student-Ioandebt-colIector-practices.htmJ). I hail this as an important step to restore some faith in the contract that the American people have with our government; however, I urge you to not stop at just a ‘review.’ Revoke the contract of Allied Interstate, Inc. and any other company that is found to harass, demean and cheat an already struggling public and especially those that believed they were doing the right thing because they thought a good job was at the end of the road and they’d be able to pay back the outrageous cost that an advanced education requires today. It’s dreadful enough that our states are being manipulated by businesses such as Allied Interstate, Inc., but to have the United States government contract with them is beyond the pale (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/jailed-for–280–the-return-of-debtors–prisons.html).
There are other issues that I could ‘wax poetic’ on, Sir, but I believe at present you have enough worries to occupy your thoughts. I would like you to know, however, that the first time I cared enough to vote in a Presidential election was in 2008 because I believed in the ‘audacity of hope’ that you so eloquently urged Americans to do. I still believe in that hope, even though there is so much evidence to the contrary that the average, ordinary American can live even a small part of the American dream. Perhaps we should change the ‘dream’ to the ‘ideal,’ for dreams
have a funny way of morphing into nightmares and by allowing the United States Department of Education to continue to contract with a business such as Allied Interstate, Inc., those dreams of a better tomorrow through education will turn into those very nightmares unless, or until, our business community wakes up and remembers just who it is that does most of the working, buying and paying in a country that gives them such generous incentives to kick us while we’re down.
Name withheld for purposes of anonymity
cc: The Honorable Senator S. Brown -OH The Honorable Senator T. Harkin -IA The Honorable Congressman D. Kucinich -OH
A.Duncan, Secretary-U. S. Department of Education Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States
D. Loonin, Esq., NCLC Allied Interstate, Inc.