It doesn’t matter if you pay the bills…

Put this under the list of phone calls I hate to get.  Someone calls in who is not the borrower.  You ask them about their relationship to the borrower (for authentication purposes) and they say I’m their so and so, and I pay the bills.

So here is my question.  Does anyone think that this is criteria that overrides federal regulation?  The idea behind it is that if we don’t talk to this person we won’t get paid because they hold the checkbook.  Let me say, I always feel bad when we can’t talk to people, especially well meaning people, but these rules were put in place to protect a borrower’s privacy.  Plus to be honest this response makes you sound like a real jerk.

So here is what you can do.  If you are an immediate family member just give the borrower’s full name, date of birth and social and we can talk to you.  Immediate family includes parent, spouse, or child on a parent plus.  In addition have the borrower with you and they can give permission for us to talk to you for one time permission.  For long term permission, have the borrower send in a third party authorization form to give you permanent (or until the borrower revokes it) permission to speak on the account.

But there are some things you still can’t do.  For example, in any of the scenarios listed above this is to access information only.  You cannot make any changes to the account including placing forbearances or deferments or changing repayment plans.  The exception to this rule is if you are a power of attorney for the borrower, you will be able to make changes.  You will also be able to access the only account.  Which reminds me, even if you are authorized by the borrower (or pay the bills), only the borrower is allowed on the online account.  This is both because of federal regulation and because only the borrower is able to make changes and many changes are able to be made through the account.