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Student borrowers snagged by glitch

Sallie Mae says it has corrected erroneous delinquencies reported by credit firm Equifax.

May 15, 2008|From Times Wire Services

A computer error at student lender Sallie Mae resulted in about a million of its customers being erroneously reported for several days as delinquent on their loans, causing their credit scores to plunge before the problem was corrected, the company said Wednesday.

Reston, Va.-based Sallie Mae, the country's largest student lender, mistakenly reported some types of payment plans as arrangements for partial payment, causing credit reporting firm Equifax to falsely code the borrowers' accounts as delinquent.

The situation was reported Wednesday by Bankrate.com, a financial information service.

Some borrowers' credit scores dropped 100 points or more as a result of the error, Bankrate.com said.

Sallie Mae spokesman Tom Joyce said the company discovered the problem Friday and immediately informed Equifax. The error was fixed Tuesday night, he said.

The company, whose formal name is SLM Corp., has also notified the other credit-reporting companies.

"Clearly we understand how important a consumer's credit rating is," Joyce said. "We certainly apologize for the error and are pleased that our customers' credit reports have been corrected."

The error affected about 10% of Sallie Mae's 10 million customers, said company spokeswoman Martha Holler.

Sallie Mae offered to provide credit reference letters for customers who needed them to show prospective lenders that the error was caused by Sallie Mae.

The company said it was upgrading its computer coding to better conform with that of the credit reporting firms.

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