US Marshals May Arrest You For Not Paying Your Student Loans

by Kate Ryan

Still paying off federal student loans? Get in line. About 40 million Americans currently have yet to pay back their student loans. Between a slow economic climate and the increasing cost of living, the prevalence of student loan debt should come as no surprise.

That being said, US marshals in Houston are starting to crack down on these outstanding loans by showing up on debtors' doorsteps with arrest warrants. That's right; US marshals are coming to get your money.

Gene Green, a Texas congressman, explained to Fox 26 that the federal government has contracted private debt collectors to take over the recuperation of their student loans.

Apparently, these private collectors can get the OK through federal court judgments to receive assistance from the US Marshal Service.

According to the US government,

If your loan is placed with a collection agency, you will be responsible for costs incurred to get payment. The holder of your loan can take other actions to collect as well.

Those "other actions" they can take? Well, that may include withholding your tax refund or, worse yet, reducing your wages. Most recently, they may show up at your house armed and with a warrant.

One Houston resident, Paul Aker, has already been arrested for not paying a $1,500 federal student loan he received in 1987. Aker says seven armed agents showed up on his doorstep last Thursday, where they quickly got him handcuffed and carted to prison.

Without any warning whatsoever, US marshals forcibly removed him from his home to recover a 29-year-old debt.

If you think the federal government's resources could be better spent elsewhere, you're not alone. Aker described the experience as "totally mind-boggling," and Congressman Green said,

There's bound to be a better way to collect on a student loan debt.

In Houston alone, 1,200 to 1,500 arrest warrants have been issued so far. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time such extreme measures have been taken. In the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, US marshals arrested people in 2003 as part of a plan they called “Operation Anaconda Squeeze.”

This situation is far more serious than a J-Lo movie, though. With debt imprisonment rates growing as a result of the economic crisis of 2008, it appears arrests for unpaid student loans will only be ratcheting up.

Citations: US Marshals arresting people for not paying their federal student loans (Fox 26 News), U.S. Marshals Are Arresting People in Texas Who Have Outstanding Student Loans (New York Magazine)