Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Citibank, U.S. Credit Management and Me

Citibank, U.S. Credit Management and Me


By Kevin Stoda

I have written previously how CITIBANK’s deceitful practices and predatory lending techniques functioned to almost send me into bankruptcy in 2003-2006. These 2 popular articles were simply called CITIBANK AND ME (Part 1) and CITIBANK AND ME (Part 2). I had planned to follow up on this by noting how CITIBANK and other large U.S. credit houses support a whole network of credit counseling and credit management firms. One of the more scandalous of such credit management firms, which I had been involved in, was U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas. I will discuss this further below.

The fact is that what Citibank and other banks are up to around the world is far more than a North American affair. (See Mikko’s CITY BANK AND ME—A FARCE IN INFINITE PARTS.) For this reason Citibank-UK is getting its share of criticism in recent months.

My current financial manager in Kuwait calls a lot of the debt management schemes and investment con-games that are soaking the elderly “Cowboys”. This is because the Brits and most of the rest of the planet have come to call the worst of American individualism and unfettered capitalism “cowboyism”.

While I think such terminology is unfair to “honest hardworking cowboys” and “gauchos” around the globe, I think it is safe to say that when America talks about its image problem abroad, America’s corporate actors are among the worst “cowboys” out there.

The obvious problem is that corporations and members of such organizations are not held criminally accountable. Further, America and world communities of corporatists fail to regulate each other. The late Anita Roddick once asked why are not such companies, like CitiGroup, Union Carbide, Exxon-Mobile, being kicked off of Stock Exchanges?

Roddick, who passed away this past month, worked hard to change business as usual around the globe. The following quote of Roddick’s is from one of the last interviews the founder of Body Shop gave. (It was presented on Democracy Now recently.)

ANITA RODDICK: “I remember being invited to the International Chamber of Commerce some years back to do a talk, and I’m always invited, because, you know, I’m supposed to be a founder of a very interesting organization, top brand in the world and no advertising. You know, the question is, ‘What can she tell us? You know, she didn’t go to business school. I mean, she must have tripped, and this must've been a series of brilliant accidents. Well, let's see what we can learn. It’s going to be really cheap bringing her over.’”

“And I remember always going into these conferences and never telling people what I am going to say, because I usually travel. Before I go onto a conference, I spend time in the area. And I traveled with the Huichol Indians, and I saw the pesticides that are produced, that are scattered in those tobacco fields, and all the babies that were born with no genitalia as a result. And within the audience were a lot of the heads of tobacco companies in this particular International Chamber of Commerce. And I was showing the slides and telling the story.”

“And the most painful thing was their reaction. It was almost a coldless sense -- a bloodless sense of good manners. They clapped, they -- no reaction, no embarrassment, no shifting around in the chair, no -- you know, none of this. It was an acceptance: 'Well, this is business. Hang on, you know, this is business. We’ve got business here. Now, come on, grow up. Now, you know, we’re business people. We have to be strong about this.' And it reminded me what Mahatma Gandhi said when he called this source of indifference is timid kindness, where you intellectually know that this is wrong, but that knowledge cannot move you to action, does not polish your human spirit to such outrage that you promise yourself you would never do these things, never be part of this.”

“And so, the question, which is a big conundrum for many of us, is, why do people who are good and true -- care for their kids, are good in the community -- why are they so careless? Is it racism? Is it easiest to say -- is that, you know, well, we don’t care that, because it’s not part of our local community; this is not a local problem; this is so far away that we can’t relate -- is it that? Is it because we have a language which approves of this? You know, we approve of this. This is a language of business. Is it maybe the clothes we wear? The minute we’re going into the office, we’re wearing these suits and these ties, this new coat of appearance that separate us from who we are as fathers and husbands?”

“Whatever it is, it is fashioning a schizophrenia in many of us, or many business people, that allow this to happen. I’ve never understood how people can go to church and pray and ask forgiveness, but never ask forgiveness about their behavior. I can’t get it. I don’t know what happens or what -- maybe there’s something in -- maybe it’s something in the breakfast cereal that stops people having a sense of empathy with the human condition or stops them being imaginative to know the responses of their actions. I am utterly, utterly confounded. I do not know why.”

Worse than adversely affecting the poor, there is also evidence that Citigroup and similar corporations are working continually against good governance and the commonweal. (Check out Jake Lewis’ “Citigroup Bankrupting Democracy” for this and similar trends in multinational corporations born in America.) Profits-before-people is drilled into these people in the corporate world.


U.S. CREDIT MANAGEMENT

Now, if we want to see how the name “U.S.” can become tainted within American borders quite easily through bad corporate greed and bad corporate management, let us look at the service company and credit negotiating company, now bankrupt, called U.S. Credit Management of Texas.

Recall that I had first become involved with U.S. Credit Management in January 2004 after (1) Citibank had unfairly charged me several thousand dollars in penalties and caused me to borrow more money from Peter [i.e., my family] to pay Paul [i.e., Citibank and other creditors] in 2003.

Recall, also, that (2) I had closed out all of my credit card accounts as of November 2003 and had originally worked with a more well-known credit counseling and management company firm out of Florida.

Finally, recall how (3) that particular firm had gotten a number of my creditors to approved a repayment schedule for me--only to later come back to me and try have CITIBANK raise my monthly payment to them by another 8 to 10 percent after I had sent in 500 plus dollars to obtain their services.

This roll-over to Citibank approach of theirs had created great distrust between that particular credit management company. So, I had gone on-line looking for a firm with more integrity.

In U.S. Credit Management, I felt I had found such a firm.

Moreover, since I was registered living in Killeen, Texas at the time, I felt that having a local [Texas State or regional company] handle my debt management and negotiations with tough-guys like CITIGROUP would be very beneficial in both the short and long terms.

After reviewing an article published at that time on CNN.com about how U.S. Credit Management was working wonders with client’s debts, I agreed at the end of January 2004 to put my debt matters into their hands.

How did U.S. Credit Management claim to operate more successfully and differently than other credit management consultants?

Well, U.S. Credit Management simply told Citibank and other lending & credit agencies that the client would go bankrupt if they didn’t agree to back off. They would then seek first to pay off the smallest loans at a reduced rate of overall debt. All the while, monthly amounts were deducted from my Texas based IBC Bank. This money would become a war chests of sorts. Every few months U.S. Credit Management would contact the bigger lenders and ask them to accept a lower overall debt and reduction of fees and interest if that creditor would take the lump-sum offer.

I was told by a sweet talking and sweet sounding Texan with a Latina-accent (and a great heart for the unjustly treated poor credit-crunched American) that within 3 ½ years all my creditors would settle. If not, I still wouldn’t be expected to put any more of my money in the kitty every month. It was U.S. Credit Management’s contractual agreement to get the big bad creditors to eventually settle. That is why they called themselves credit negotiators.

Now, you may not have believed this sort of tactic to be plausible.

However, over the years, I had come to learn exactly how much lenders and credit management firms were making each year. (Just look at Sallie Mae rolling in the doe back up in Lawrence, Kansas where I once lived and studied!) I felt that the Irving, Texas based U.S. Credit Management could pull this negotiation off and make a profit. All U.S. Credit Management needed to make clear to creditors was that the threat of a my declaring bankruptcy was likely or plausible.

Meanwhile, I was so far in the hole at that time (January 2004) that I had to accept a job to teach in the Middle East.

This move of mine outside continental North America, I felt, should make clear to my creditors that I could or would be ready to go ahead and declare bankruptcy at just about any time.


PRIOR TO SUMMER 2005

Prior to the summer of 2005, it was much easier for debtors across America to declare bankruptcy than it is today.

However, the Republican-led Congress of 2005 passed legislation making it much harder for the average American suffering credit problems to declare bankruptcy and start over again. President Bush quickly signed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (S. 256) into law.

This was a hugely mean-spirited act.

This new law has supposedly stopped a few case of unwarranted bankruptcies in the USA. On the other hand, the legislation has certainly adversely affected those people who have been holding home- and condominium loans since 2005.

Many of these people have lost their homes and/or mortgages--and have no recourse to debt relief at much earlier stages due to the less likelihood that they might eventually threaten bankruptcy.

Amazingly, without me knowing it, U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas, who had already taken nearly 8000 dollars from my bank account in Texas, quietly decided to use a loophole and did in fact fully declare bankruptcy in late 2005.

Thousands of dollars of mine went up the creek with that bankruptcy of U.S. Credit Management. Many other Texans (and other Americans) lost big in that and related scandals at U.S. Credit Management in the middle part of this decade.

As January 1, 2006 dawned, not only was I up a creek without a paddle (and out of 8000-plus dollars in savings), but I was once again having to renegotiate my own loans individually with all my creditors—including Citibank.


SETTLING DEBT

By March 2006, I was fully distraught and aware that I had been a victim (along with many others) of a scam of sorts by U.S. Credit Management, a company ostensibly set up to help people in debt.

I have contacted several Attorney Generals and the police chief in Irving Texas, but I have received no word on whether I will ever get any money back from the bankruptcy of Texas’ U.S. Credit Management.

Meanwhile, I had become busy contacting all the creditors I knew of—including Citibank Mastercard.

The good news is that I was able to settle all of my accounts--accept two--by August 2006.

That is likely because I had informed them all that I was victim of the U.S. Credit Management Scandal. Knowing that I had just been taken through the ringer by U.S. Credit Management, many of my creditors took off all of my penalties--and in some cases part of my debt.

Finally, by September 2006 only 2 creditors remained—and you guessed it: One of these firms was Citibank.


EPILOGUE: CITIBANK

As of this writing, I believe my credit rating in my homeland is still horrendous. I was back in the USA this summer and I tried—just for fun—to see if I could get a credit card.

Naturally, I couldn’t.

Meanwhile, as long as Citibank refuses to fairly settle my debt—by taking off all fees and accrued interest, I do not plan to settle.

Nor will I likely ever have good credit rating in the USA.

This is sad because, aside from my problems with Citibank over the past 4 to 5 years, I have a fairly impeccable credit record.

I have paid down (or off) my school loans—unlike many Republican Party leaders. I have paid off a great range of other debts—including loans I took out to purchase vehicles over the decade. I have also paid off any property debts I have had.

Nonetheless, unless American Banks and the American crediting and lending system improve, I will never likely be able to buy a home in the USA.

I certainly have to thank the 2005 Congress and Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. (Recall that none of my candidates won in November 2004—as usual).

Most of all, I have 2 corporate entities to thank for this plight of mine in the world of banking, lending and credit: [1] the now defunct U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas and [2] Citigroup of South Dakota (or wherever in the world it wishes to seek out the best or worst corporate laws).


BOTTOM FEEDERS AND CITIBANK

This past spring 2007, Citibank was back to its old tricks. It had apparently sold my debt to an agency in Colorado.

This agency sweet talked my mom in Missouri out of over 500 dollars last spring to help me (her dear son who has been forced to work abroad for so long) clear that old Citibank-laden debt.

When I heard this, I told mom not to pay, but it was too late.

I explained to my mother that such firms are the bottom feeders (with Citibank at the top). These agencies buy up bad debt for pennies on the dollar and try to badger people into paying off the debt at a reduced rate.

The very existence of these bottom feeders are why I had misread the tough cowboy- nature of U.S. Credit Management of Irving Texas

However, as my new financial planner in Kuwait tells me the American Cowboy can also be the cover for a reckless and poorly managed corporate scheme, like that of the U.S. Credit Management in Texas.


EPILOGUE: U.S. CREDIT MANAGEMENT, TEXAS

In case anyone else was effected adversely by a Credit Management company in Texas. They might try contacting: Credit Repair Scams Lawsuit site: http://www.creditscamlawsuits.com/credit_scam_lawsuit_lawyer_alexander.htm

I hope they aren’t a scam.

Here is a more national site: http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/credit_repair.html

Many U.S. states have similar site. Just google or yahoo for them with these key words: “Credit Repair Scams Lawsuit.”













NOTES

“Body Shop Founder & Environmental Campaigner Anita Roddick 1942-2007”, http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/22/1415259

“Citi-Group—Bankrupting Democracy”, http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2002/02april/april02corp2.html

Mikko, CITY BANK AND ME—A FARCE IN INFINITE PARTS, http://www.jarvenpaa.org/mikko/2007/09/stupidity-citibank-and-me-farce-in.html

Stoda, Kevin, CITIBANK AND ME (Part 1), http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/2007/04/citibank-and-me-part-1.html

Stoda, Kevin, CITIBANK AND ME (Part 2), http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/2007/04/citibank-and-me-part-2.html

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4 Comments:

Anonymous sahil salunke said...

hi,

This is not the right way to reject the application, as I have submitted all the photo-copies of the document as per mentioned in the mail, which I had received from CITI-Bank on 10th Feb 2008.
Its is not my fault that you guys were not able to verify my enrollment with the university, as the representative whom I called told me that you guys have got this information from the college. WHICH IS NOT AT ALL POSSIBLE AS THEN WHY THE HECK I AM GOING TO THE COLLEGE AND WHY WOULD I PAY MY FEES. If you guys don't wanna give credit cards its fine but please don't say something stupid.

I have also faxed the tuition receipt, on 11th march 2008, after a talk with the customer care representative, who had called me on 10th march 2008. last nite I am receiving an e-mail which is as below.

As you guys keep recording the calls for safety purposes, also do listen to them, then you might know that I had instantly replied and faxed documents as ordered and supported you guys.

Ok I understand the fax of my students ID was not visible but I did e-mailed you tuition receipt on 11th march 2008 and the customer care representative whom I called on 12th March 2008, told me that he has not received my fax yet and so my application got rejected.

Before letting me know how can the application get rejected, as whenever I called customer and highlighted the issue of deadline. I always got the answer that application is kept on hold for 90days (again go ahead and check your tape records).

SAHIL SALUNKE

11:36 PM  
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11:00 AM  
Blogger Credit Repair said...

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