Interest charges reversed with an apology

Authority Revenue Services BC, Ministry of Finance

The Ministry of Finance, through Revenue Services BC, collects overdue student loans. Nirmal contacted us with concerns about a student loan debt that Revenue Services BC was collecting. Nirmal believed he’d paid off all of his student loans in 2006 but Revenue Services staff informed him in 2008 that it was sending a student loan debt in his name to a private collection agency. When he got this news he made a number of written requests to Revenue Services asking for details of the loan it was collecting. Nirmal told us he also followed up on these written requests with phone calls but hadn’t received any details from Revenue Services about the origins of the debt it said he owed. Nirmal was willing to repay any debt he owed, but he wanted to understand where the debt originated and be sure that he actually owed the money.

It seemed that Nirmal had taken reasonable steps to try to get information about his student loan and we wanted to ensure that Revenue Services BC responded fairly and reasonably to his requests for clarification.The information we received from Revenue Services during our investigation confirmed what Nirmal told us about his attempts to obtain clarification concerning his student loan debt. In early November 2008 he had given the private collection agency documents to show payments he’d made towards his student loan. Those documents were forwarded to Revenue Services BC. Nirmal followed up with a written explanation and requests for information from Revenue Services BC. He did this in November 2008, December 2009, and October 2011. There was no record of any response to these requests for information about the debt. Meanwhile, interest continued to accrue on the debt.

When we enquired about the lack of response to Nirmal’s requests for clarification, we were told that the information Nirmal wanted was held by StudentAid BC and that Revenue Services had referred Nirmal to StudentAid BC. StudentAid BC seemed to be the right place to refer Nirmal, but the first evidence of this referral was fromOctober 2011; three years after Nirmal had first requested information about his loan.

Nirmal eventually received the information he was looking for, but there didn’t appear to be a reasonable explanation for the delay. We discussed with the ministry steps it might take to address Nirmal’s concerns. The ministry agreed and as a result, it recalled all Revenue Services’ reports on Nirmal’s credit account from the credit bureau, reversed interest charges on his student loan account in the amount of $1,784.87, clarified the accurate amount of loan debt that remained, and apologized to Nirmal. We believed these were reasonable measures to settle Nirmal’s complaint.

Category Education
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2013
Location The Interior