Yesterday I received an unexpected letter in the mail, a federal student loan collection letter from ConServe collections. I've never had a federal student loan, so it was quite surprising to receive such a gift!
The letter is a little strange. It has my full name on the address header, but not my correct address. After some family research, the address on the letter is my grandmother's, and I never lived at this address before. It seems that my grandmother received the letter, and then penciled in my correct address and forwarded it along. I can still see her handwriting peeking out from under the yellow US post office forwarding sticker.
I googled ConServe, and they seem like a real company. The NY Times did an article on student loan collection practices, and a significant portion was dedicated to the company.
After verifying ConServe was a real company, I called the number on ConServe's website to investigate. After explaining the situation, I gave the customer representative the account number on the letter, but carefully did not reveal any personal information. She then requested my name, to which I responded that, to verify that this was not fraud, could she please tell me the name on the account. She gave me the first name, which was indeed mine. I thought this sufficient, so I completed with my last name, and this matched up.
Next she asked for the last four digits of my Social Security Number. I believe that these are safe to reveal, so I did. They did not match the account (phew)!
Finally, I pulled my credit reports from all three major reporting agencies. This loan and collection do not appear on my report as of yesterday evening (June 29th). The letter I received is dated June 12th.
So my questions are:
- Should I take any defensive steps to protect myself?
- What could have happened to cause me to receive this letter?