Woman saddled with another's loan

Seven On Your Side
December 12, 2008 8:50:35 PM PST
It was an expensive case of mistaken identity. The price tag? More than $21,000. It all stemmed from a college loan belonging to a Chicago woman. Trouble is, a lady from Queens got stuck with the bill.Clothilde Thomas still has her cap and gown from the day she graduated from Iona College. But now, she's also has been hit with a $21,000 school loan. There's just one problem.

"It's not me," she said. "Not my debt."

Clothilde says she's been hounded by two collection agencies for a debt owed the Department of Education.

7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips: "That's a big debt."
Thomas: "$21,000. I need to repair my house, you know?"
Tappy: "Not to pay for a loan you didn't take out."
Thomas: "That I didn't take out."

In fact, Clothilde says never had a student loan, her employer paid for her college bills.

"I went to the Port Authority," she said. "They paid my tuition and I just had to show the grades and they would reimburse me."

So, whose loan is this? According to the original loan paperwork, a woman with the same name took out the loan 20 years ago. But a closer inspection shows she has a different date of birth, social security number and even went to a different school - Catherine College in Chicago.

Tappy: "You've never heard of this stuff?"
Clohilde: "Never heard of Catherine College, I went to Iona."

Clothilde graduated 1992. Her college commencement book even has her name in it.

So we pleaded Clothilde's case to the U.S. Department of Education, and just days later, they apologized for the error, acknowledging that clothilde is not the borrower. Her debt was done.

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STORY BY: 7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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