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Sherpa Tip: Talk to Your Lender by Email

Email isn’t just convenient. Sticking to email communication increases lender accountability.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

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Getting student loan questions answered by many student loan lenders and servicers can be a frustrating experience. Federal servicers like myFedLoan, Navient, and Great Lakes have an especially bad reputation for customer service. Unfortunately, dealing with these companies is often a necessity.

Of all the borrower complaints that we have heard over the years, the greatest source of frustration seems to stem from the inaccurate or conflicting information provided by lenders and servicers. These issues can result in minor inconveniences or can result in major problems, such as missing out on your eligibility for public service loan forgiveness.

One simple way to reduce your risks of being harmed by bad information is to communicate by email whenever possible.

Email Communication Increases Accountability

Borrowers who relied on information provided over the phone have difficulty proving their reliance on that information when issues arise. Lenders and servicers may apologize but are often reluctant to take steps towards correcting the issue – even if they made a mistake.

Lenders realize the significance an email can have in proving your claims. Being able to show them an email you received detailing the information they gave you provides the evidence that they made a mistake. This increases your chances that they will take measures to correct the error. Even if they fail to correct their error, having the email is incredibly helpful for borrowers that choose to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If a borrower has to resort to hiring an attorney, the emails could also provide critical evidence towards making your case.

Email Can Result in More Accurate Answers

Customer service representatives know that their phone calls “may be recorded” by their supervisors for quality control. With emails, the representatives know for sure that what they type is being recorded. This provides an added incentive for them to verify that the information they are providing you is accurate.

When a customer service representative doesn’t know the answer, it is also easy to forward an email to a coworker who can provide a more accurate response. Passing an email along is far easier than repeatedly transferring a phone customer. Further, communicating via email allows the lender/servicer time to research a question if necessary. Put simply, phone calls help facilitate a fast response, while emails help facilitate an accurate response.

If You Can’t Talk Via Email

Many lenders will want to avoid email communication. Additional accountability isn’t in their best interest. For many borrowers, sending an email can also present an issue. Phone calls can be quicker and more convenient. In many circumstances, an email exchange can take days, while a phone call can resolve an issue in less than an hour. Fortunately, there are ways around these potential hurdles.

If Your Lender/Servicer Won’t Communicate Via Email – Avoiding email makes it more difficult to prove what you were told over the phone. However, it doesn’t make it impossible. During phone calls, take detailed notes of important information that you were told. Be sure to identify and note the individual (or individuals) with whom you spoke. Keep in mind that the customer service representative also can take notes. If there is an important detail you want to be noted in your file, ask them to document it.

If You Don’t Have Time For Email – Sometimes, a fast resolution is the most important priority. When this happens, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of phone support. Once your immediate crisis is over, and you have time to deal with things, send an email. In the email note what you were told and the steps that were taken. Ask your lender if there is anything additional that needs to be done or if they think anything was done incorrectly. This will allow you to have the speed of a phone resolution, but still have documentation of what happened.

Bottom Line: Email Equals Protection

Lender and servicer customer service representatives are often underpaid and undertrained. At times they are guilty of providing inaccurate information. Smart borrowers should be aware of this danger and take steps to minimize the chances of acting on bad information. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to communicate via email.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

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