Here's my situation. No consumer debt, except a small balance on PayPal Pay Later and a secured credit card--both on time. No car payments, no mortgage, and own nothing of value. A couple utility bills that are behind but those aren't being reported. My landlord loves me and he's a lawyer--he refunds me money at Christmastime because I pay on time each month. Bank account a little iffy but no NSF's for a year until yesterday (paid something with wrong PayPal account--argh!) Oh and I'm in a teensy little payday loan hell, but I've got a plan to wean myself off of those. Oh, and then there's two state tax payments I need to make... Meanwhile I canceled several memberships, magazines, donations, etc. and am finding other ways to save money. I'm going to save up to move to a cheaper apartment and am looking for a second job. But I have massive student loan debt and an income not reflective of my *ahem* educated status. Most have been consolidated into one loan that has been sold numerous times but is in hardship deferment. I have another loan with Sallie Mae, and right now everything is fine with them and the balance is relatively low compared to the other loans. The problem is with the private loans I took out from Citibank. 4 or 5 years ago, I was behind to the point of defaulting. Someone told me on the phone "send in this amount of money and it will save it from defaulting". That person was incorrect. I felt helpless when the loan was turned over to collection because it was mostly my fault and shut up and paid the collection agency what I could each month, or what they demanded more like. Meanwhile, my mother, who is...uh...she has an interesting personality, co-signed my loans because she has even poorer financial planning skills than I do. At the time she owned a paid-for house, but long story, her house was condemned and basically she is old and doesn't have any money. She also flips out every time the collection agency sends out letters regarding my account. Because the two loans, for which I make one payment, consist of 6 quarters of student loan disbursements, they send out six demand letters every time something happens. Once it was an actual computer glitch. Mom thinks they are going to garnish her pension and she will end up on the street. Naturally, I make my payments mostly because the last thing I need is my mother flipping out. Now the collection agency says, more or less, that "I should have paid this off by now" that I "took out the loan in 2001" so that means I should have paid it off by now, etc., etc. And that they need me to show "more intent" to pay. 47 months of payments, which are currently about 20% of my take home (I'm not living high on the hog here folks), and I'm not "showing intent". *sigh* I also don't have any rich relatives or friends who can bail me out. Already tried to get a personal loan from my CU, and tried to get my brother to co-sign but his ex-wife...long story. I realize that the agency plays me--they threaten me and get me upset and ranting then turn me over to someone nice and friendly. I still fall for it. I don't know what they've told me that is the truth and what is just them saying whatever they can to get more money out of me. Now they are saying if I don't pony up a $1500 down payment by Friday, they will sue me. And my mother. I'd sooner die than deal with my mother. She sent a senior legal aid lawyer after me (not that they could really do anything) because I got behind with Sallie Mae (yes, she co-signed that one too) and if you know them, they call 20 times a day until you deal with them. My mother thinks I'm evil, you see... But just reading the bit that I have here tonight, I think I don't have to panic. I'm going to talk to a lawyer tomorrow. It looks like Chapter 13 bankruptcy might help me and protect my mother, but I still can't tell if a private student loan is eligible. The agency said that it wasn't. I figure if it's in collection it isn't really a student loan anymore anyway, does anyone know? So by way of that lengthy introduction any advice for an ASAP fix for my collection problem? I have one source of money of last resort (i.e. hit up my dad though I've done that far too often in the past), but I'm really trying to be a grown up and deal with this on my own. Can I get my credit file from Citibank? Will they have telephone contact notes or memos about what I was told by whom? (I work in a field related to mortgages and we track all those sorts of customer conversations in order to protect ourselves.) Anyone know their records retention schedule? Is it too late to call BS on Citibank? Also some easier questions! On Equifax especially they have some of my student loans on there 4 times (twice on the good side, twice on the bad) and they've since been consolidated anyway. Is it easy to get the reporting agencies to straighten this out? Should I bother? Should I try to get very old addresses (1997) and very very old workplaces (1988) taken off? If you made it this far, congratulations! Oh and one more newbie question--what service do y'all use to get the credit scores for your nifty tracking lists in your sigs? I got one from a quick sign up and cancel with freecreditreport.com but I know that's not the best thing. Feel free to tell me to RTFM.