If you took out a private student loan, your lender most likely partners with a loan servicer. Firstmark Services is one of these private student loan servicers, and it’s not making a good impression on borrowers at the moment. Firstmark Services complaints have given it a D-rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Its customer reviews are equally unimpressive, with an average of just one star with the BBB. If your private student loans are with Firstmark Services, you’ll want to be aware of the top complaints from borrowers.
What does Firstmark Services do with student loans?
Firstmark Services is a student loan servicer, not a lender. A lender is a company like Earnest or LendKey. The lender regulates all the terms of your student loan and is the issuer. A loan servicer acts as the middleman for private student loan lenders and performs the following tasks:
- Handles and tracks payments
- Provides customer service
- Processes changes in repayment plans, including forbearance and deferment requests
- Maintains loan records
- Ensures the administration of loans is in compliance with federal law and other legal requirements
The student loan servicer disburses the funds, and you’ll partner with it during repayment for the life of your loan unless you refinance. Firstmark Services is a branch of a larger student loan servicer, Nelnet. Nelnet services federal student loans, while Firstmark Services only handles private student loans.
The way that Firstmark performs as a student loan servicer can best be evaluated by customers. And borrowers aren’t impressed with Firstmark Services. They have many customer complaints for just about all of Firstmarks’ duties.
3 recurring Firstmark Services complaints
Firstmark Services complaints are plentiful. Borrowers can file complaints with the BBB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). There are three major complaints that keep popping up.
1. Mishandled student loans
When you make a payment on your student loan, you want it to go to the right place. Firstmark Services complaints recorded with the CFPB and BBB describe borrowers having trouble with how their student loans are handled.
One borrower with two loans under Firstmark Services reported that the payment toward one loan was split between the two. This caused the loans to then appear delinquent. The borrower emailed and called Firstmark Services many times. They ended up making additional payments and paying $130 in interest for the mistake.
Many borrowers have had their loans transferred to Firstmark Services. In the transfer process, it’s been reported that previous payments weren’t applied to the account, and customers have a difficult time retrieving the mishandled payments.
In one borrower’s case, it was reported that the loan’s interest rates were changed from fixed to variable upon transfer of the loan. When the borrower tried to get copies of the promissory notes, they were never sent. Firstmark Services refused to reinstate the fixed interest rate or refund the interest.
Having your loan terms changed is an extreme example of mishandling. This sort of mistake can truly wreck your finances. A Firstmark Services borrower should monitor Firstmark’s every move, all the way up to pay off date.
2. Failure to close accounts and work with borrowers
Paying off a student loan is one of the best feelings — or at least, it should be. Firstmark Services has complaints from borrowers who have difficulty getting their account closed.
A borrower, whose account was paid in full, filed a complaint with the BBB stating, “I have contacted Firstmark every 2-3 business days since the college paid off the balance and I am continually told they are working on closing the account. To date, this account is past due and incurring late fees even though it has been paid in full for almost 45 days.”
In a case originally reported on the BBB, a borrower paid off their student loan in full. This was recorded on their debit card bank statement. The borrower then tried to buy a home. They requested a “paid in full” letter from Firstmark, as requested by the underwriting department for their mortgage. Firstmark claimed it could not issue a formal letter sooner than 30 days from the last and final payment. It did offer an informal letter, but this was rejected by the mortgage company.
When you pay off an account, it shouldn’t be a struggle. It certainly shouldn’t stop you from buying a home and moving on with your financial future.
3. Terrible customer service and follow-through
The BBB and CFPB Firstmark Services complaints are filled with reports of terrible customer service.
Bad customer service led to a drop in credit score and threats of being sent to a collection agency for one borrower. They had inquired on a forbearance request before the next payment, due to unemployment.
The customer representative had said the borrower was eligible and promised to send a form via email and U.S. mail. Two weeks went by and no form arrived. So the borrower called Firstmark Services again. The representative said the form was never asked for, but they would put it in a request. Another week passed — still nothing.
Finally, after a month and a couple of days, the borrower received the form. By this point, they were called multiple times a day for payment on a past-due loan.
Communication about payments has been a major gripe as well. One borrower reported that their payments were reversed four times. Firstmark Services only contacted them once when this occurred. The rest of the time, the borrower had to log in to check and would find their account was past due.
Another customer tried to set up automatic payments four times over the course of having the loan with Firstmark Services, which reported not receiving the requests when the borrower inquired. The borrower never received notifications from Firstmark Services about the missing payments. Instead, the borrower was contacted by the loan issuer when the account was 148 days past due.
Gaps in communication make it challenging for any borrower to get set up for successful payments with their student loans.
If you have loans with Firstmark Services, check your accounts ASAP. Stay in contact with the loan servicer so you’re always doing your part. For the customers referenced above, managing their student loans with Firstmark Services was a bit of a nightmare. This may or may not be the case for you.
What you can do if you have Firstmark student loans
If you have loans with Firstmark Services and you’re not happy with it, you have options. One of them is to increase your payments and pay off the loan faster.
You can also refinance your private student loan. If you’re serious about refinancing your student loans to avoid Firstmark Services, shop around for a new lender. Look at the loan terms to ensure you’re getting the same or better interest rate. Make sure you can afford the payments and see if there are additional perks for refinancing with the new lender.
In addition to making it easier for you to compare refinancing offers, Student Loan Planner has partnered with several private student loan lenders to get you a cashback bonus. Rest assured that you don’t have to put up with a terrible loan servicer.