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Thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear about your situation. To the extent that you are a co-signer on a debt wherein the other signer has filed for bankruptcy, you can be held solely responsible for the debt.
The situation just seems a little fishy right now. I co-signed for my sister in 2002 and was told by Green Tree that my name would be taken off the loan in a year if she paid on time. She did make her payments on time for more than a year and called them repeated asking to have my name taken off the loan which they would never do. Then she started to have financial problems resulting in it being foreclosed on in 2005. I was never contacted for years and then started to receive a few random calls for payment. I would say that I never lived there and my name wasn't supposed to be on the loan anymore. The trailer park bought the trailer from Green Tree and sold it to someone my sister knew. Never heard anything again, until Friday when someone from a place called conseco called and said that the debt was mine and that if I didn't pay it on a credit card on that day, Green Tree would take me to court and sue me for $22,000 plus court costs. If I paid that day they would take $11,000 and write the rest off. When I told her that I am not even employed she said they would take $7,000 but only on Friday. When I asked if I could make payments, she said that would be on the $22,000 not on the $7,000. Looking at Consumer Reports there are thousands of complaints about Green Tree Financial saying how they were lied to and relentlessly harrassed. It says that Green Tree was bought by Conseco and then Conseco rid itself of Green Tree by declaring bankrupty.
In order for your name to be taken off the loan, she would have had to refinance it. It sounds like Green Tree may not have given you all the information. It is sounds like the company was remiss in starting collection attempts and to minimize the effort it would need to expend it was willing to take a settlement amount in lieu of what was actually owed. It may be a good idea for you to sit down with a local attorney who is familiar with debt, consumer law and real estate contracts to determine your options.
Also the person calling to collect the debt is calling from a toll free number and have never mailed me anything.
Unfortunately a collection company does not have to mail you anything for the debt to be valid. They can call you trying to collect. You can request that they send you information, but many times these companies are not the most organized.
In fact, there are times that these companies do no send out any information until they sue for collection. However, you have ever ability to ask them to send you written correspondence and to validate the debt before making any payment arrangements.
How do I know this is actually the collection agency for them and not just someone with my personal information trying to get money from me because they have my credit information?
That is why you can ask them to validate the debt and show that they are actually collecting on behalf of the debt.
You can explain your concern to them and ask them to respond to your concerns in writing.