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ACS - Affiliated Computer Services / Fradulent practices - Class Action Lawsuit?

1 United States Review updated:


I've been dealing with ACS since our loans were transfered to them in January, 2006. At least once a year they lose a payment, attributed it to one loan and not the other, and in both cases charge me late fees and contact the credit agencies. We pay our monthly payment directly through our bank on the same date every month - 10 days ahead of the due date. I had proof that my check was sent on 8/4/10 and that it cleared on 8/29/10. But ACS said they had no record of it and I would need to get a copy from my bank to prove it. In the meantime, they are charging me late fees and sending notices that they will be reporting me to the credit agencies. Curious because of their chronic mismanagement of my accounts, I signed into their site and reviewed the history of my account. It was shocking to see that my payments were going to mostly interest and barely paying down the principle - after 8 years of payments, I'd barely made a dent. I called and spoke with a representative who told me that that the amounts paid to interest vs. the principle are dependent upon what day of the month the check arrives. Now, my checks go out on the 4th every month yet somehow they were cashed and credited to my account on all different days - sometimes the 12th, others the 29th. When I asked the rep to further clarify, she said that the interest is accrued daily and that when my check is applied can significantly alter whether or not my principle decreases. Yet, I send my check on the same day every month and there's great variance to when it gets cleared by ACS.

Growing frustrated and more curious, I searched online and found this case...Fensterstock vs. Education Finance Partners/ACS - Affiliated Computer Services. Apparently I'm not the only one who finds this company's actions questionable.

Also read this story:

And this one titled: Recent Case Over Misapplied Student Loan Payments Opens Door for Possible Class Action Lawsuit

In short, taken from the first story cited above:

In ruling on Fensterstock's suit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, just handed him a major victory. In a decision written by Judge Amalya Kearse, Fensterstock won the right to form a class action with others who entered the same agreement with the defendants. He also won the right to litigate in federal court rather than submit to arbitration.

Shortly after he graduated from Law School in Hempstead, N.Y., and become a lawyer, Fensterstock had accepted the defendant's offer to consolidate his student loans into a single loan of $52, 915.49 at an annual interest rate of 9.32 percent. At the end of the loan period of 29 years, he would have paid approximately three times the amount with monthly payments being applied "first to charges, costs and fees; next to unpaid interest and then to principal."

Fensterstock's payments were due on the 14th of every month, and he always mailed them in ahead of that date. After seven months, he had paid $7, 051.84 but he realized that by far the largest share of his payments was being applied to interest. In other words, his debt was being reduced by only $17 a month.

This, he was told was because payments had to arrive on exactly the 14th -- not sooner, not later. On this basis, he calculated, there would be "an enormous" payment due at the end of the loan period -- not a final payment of $335 as he had been told at the inception.

I've contacted the attorney who represented Fensterstock. Please do the same if you believe you're wrapped up in these deceptive practices as well.

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  • Br
      29th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    October 11, 2010 1:15 PM
    Challenging a Student Lender Head-On

    Posted by Victor Li
    Buy a cell phone, apply for a credit card, sign a lease, or borrow money, and invariably you're confronted with a block of text that requires you to waive all liability. In those rare circumstances under which you can sue, you must agree to do so on the seller's terms and according to the state laws of its choosing. These "take-it-or-leave-it" adhesion provisions are usually printed in a font so small you almost need a magnifying glass to read them, and in language so obtuse you practically need a law degree to understand it.
    Actually, having a law degree may not help. That's what Joshua Fensterstock learned after consolidating three private loans he'd taken out to attend Hofstra Law School in Hempstead, New York. "When I graduated, I had over $100, 000 worth of student loans, " says Fensterstock, who graduated in 2003 and worked as a real estate lawyer at New York-based real estate, corporate, and litigation boutique Isaac & Associates for five years before opening his own New York practice last July. His debt load was hardly unusual: The American Bar Association estimates that law students attending private law schools took out, on average, more than $90, 000 in loans during the period when Fensterstock was enrolled.
    In 2006, Fensterstock decided to merge the remaining balances on the three private loans. The lender he chose--Education Finance Partners, a student loan company serviced by California-based Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.--gave him a 30-year loan of $52, 915.49 at a fixed interest rate of 9.32 percent. "They e-mailed me a complete package of documents, and in order to be approved, I had to sign a promissory note that came with the application, " Fensterstock says. He read the fine print and agreed to the note's terms.
    Fensterstock soon noticed that though he was making regular payments, the balance on his monthly statements was rising, not falling. When he contacted ACS to report the problem in August 2007, he was told that if he didn't pay precisely on the fourteenth of each month, his payment would apply only to the interest due on the loan, not toward reducing the principal. "That wasn't in the agreement, " he says.
    Fensterstock filed suit against ACS and EFP on behalf of himself and any other affected borrowers, claiming the two entities had engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices. One catch: Filing suit violated a provision of the promissory note he signed under which he waived the right to pursue class actions or other representative claims and agreed that arbitration decide all individual claims. Fensterstock challenged that provision in his suit as well.
    "We alleged that this class waiver would discourage people from standing up for their rights, " says his lawyer, Orin Kurtz of New York-based law firm Abbey Spanier Rodd & Abrams, noting that Fensterstock claims ACS and EFP have cheated a large number of borrowers out of small sums. "After all, how many individuals would bother going to arbitration for a few hundred dollars? A class action is the opportunity for many individuals banding together to take on a big corporation. That raises the stakes and may encourage the defendant to address the issue more squarely."
    Edward Lenci of Hinshaw & Culbertson, a Chicago-based firm that represents ACS, is unsympathetic. "There's a big difference between an 18-year-old kid who signs a cell phone agreement because he doesn't know any better and he's under pressure from a salesman, and a 35-year-old lawyer, " Lenci says. "He should have known what he was signing."
    So far, the courts have disagreed. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that the promissory note's class waiver and arbitration clauses were "unconscionable" under California law (the disputed promissory note specified the laws of ACS's home state as the ultimate authority), rejecting the defendants' argument that, as a lawyer, Fensterstock should have known better. "We have seen nothing in his education, experience, or expertise to suggest that he had any meaningful opportunity to negotiate that clause out of the contract, " Judge Amalya Kearse wrote on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel.
    Many lawyers don't understand their loan terms, says Heather Jarvis, senior program manager at Equal Justice Works, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that encourages lawyers to pursue public service careers. "They're sophisticated people, and even they have a very difficult time understanding their loans and their options, " she says. "Certainly, when they were students, they did not understand what they were getting into."
    In its ruling, the Second Circuit found that arbitration was an inadequate remedy because it didn't give Fensterstock enough of a chance to negotiate with the lender, and created a disincentive for individuals to sue.
    Lenci, who has filed a petition asking the Second Circuit to rehear the case, is adamant that, in line with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), the disputed clauses should be upheld. "Hopefully, the Second Circuit will grant rehearing and decide that the FAA preempts California law on its own, " Lenci says. "Otherwise, we would have to petition the Supreme Court for certiorari." Lenci notes that the Court is set to decide whether the arbitration act does indeed preempt state unconscionability laws like the one at issue in Fensterstock's suit when it considers AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion in the upcoming term. "The Second Circuit might decide to wait and see what the Supreme Court does in Concepcion, " says Lenci. "It's unlikely but possible."
    As for Fensterstock, he's preparing for the discovery phase of what he hopes will be certified as a class action suit--and making regular loan payments, though not always on the fourteenth. "Some months they apply it to the principal, some months they don't, " he says. "The problem is when you send a payment either through mail or electronically, you have no control over when they post the payment. I don't understand what they're doing. Hopefully, we'll clear it up once we start discovery."

  • Hm
      3rd of May, 2012
    0 Votes

    My student loans were transferred to ACS last year. I recently discovered that my entire monthly payments were going only toward interest. Now today, I received a notice in the mail that they "recalculated" my monthly payment and raised the payment by over $200. I called and asked why. They said that given I had a "balloon payment loan" they recalculated to determine the amount I would have to pay to meet the "terms" of my original loan. I told them I was looking at the original papers and did not have a "balloon payment." I was put on hold twice, given different explanations each time. I am a social worker, I NEVER would have signed a promissory note to make a large "balloon" payment. Seriously? Is there any recourse on a state level that we can take? I also asked about income contingent repayment and they said they have nothing to do with that. In Wisconsin...

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