ESTERO, Fla. — A Southwest Florida man was receiving late fees despite paying his student loans every month since 2001.
Ira Sutow spent decades working on crime shows such as “48 Hours.” But recently, the retired Emmy-winning journalist found himself on the other side of the news industry as a frustrated consumer looking for justice.
“I think anger is an understatement,” he said. “I am livid with rage.”
The payment problem
Sutow’s problem began in March when the student loan he pays every month was suddenly charged a late fee, even though he had paid it on time.
The same problem happened in May and then October. According to Sutow, every time he called the student loan company, Navient, he was told they were missing his payments for those three months.
But Sutow said his bank account showed the exact payment was made through auto bill pay from his account to Navient for those three months, as well as every month before and in between.
“We kept saying to them over and over again, ‘please audit your books, audit your books,’ and they just totally ignored that,” Sutow recalled, adding that debt collectors started harassing him with phone calls.
“In one five-month period, I logged close to 100 calls, over 60 of them to my cell phone,” he said.
Sutow said the last straw came when his credit score dropped over 100 points.
Payment problem solved
After his credit debacle, Sutow reached out to WINK News. The Call for Action team then reached out to Navient.
The student loan company sent the following statement, saying that the loan payment for the months of March, May and October were applied to Sutow’s son’s loan instead of the loan Sutow was solely responsible for:
“Our research showed that their payments were made via their bank’s bill pay system; however, the payment was missing instruction fields to direct the payment to the loan they preferred. We are happy to accommodate their wishes, and have now retroactively re-applied the payments, removed late fees, and reported the loan in good standing.”
Fixing the credit problem
Sutow claimed when Navient applied his payments to the different account, his credit was dinged and his credit score dropped more than 100 points.
While Navient said it would report that Sutow’s account is now in good standing, consumer lawyer Carmen Dellutri said his credit score may never be fully restored.
“The credit reporting agencies and FICO hold all the cards,” Dellutri said. “We’re not allowed to see behind the curtain. So when a problem like this happens, how do you really restore a person like this back to the status quo? It’s almost impossible to know where he should have been and where he is now and how it’s affected him.”
It is officially fixed
WINK News reached out to Navient to see precisely when Sutow’s credit would be restored. They said they were able to “confirm the retraction was processed and the account is reporting current with no delinquencies.”
Sutow told WINK News Call for Action his credit score appears to have returned to where it was before it was compromised.
Carmen Dellutri answers questions for those worried about their credit score: