Having previously banked with Suncoast Federal Credit Union I never would have suspected I would, in the end, be comparing them to loan sharks.
Back in 2009 when I was a customer I worked as the Art Director for a glass art and lighting gallery. Our company was doing well. I was doing well. I had a credit card with Suncoast. When the economic crash hit, it hit hard here in SW Florida. Our store went from a multimillion dollar operation to bankrupt. This left me laid off and without work. Shortly after this, the oil spill in the gulf happened and the economy plummeted even further. Even as a degreed professional, I was unable to find work and had to rely on unemployment benefits.
I kept current on bills, including Suncoast, as long as I could. When I realized I was at a point where I could no longer sustain all of my payments, Suncoast was the very last one I stuck it out with. I went into the local branch to talk to the manager to see if we could lower the payments until I had gainful employment again because if not, I was going to have to stop paying altogether for right then.
Common sense would say that yes, they would have compassion for their clients and work with them. Not the case. Not only was I very rudely met with no empathy for my situation, I was told that there would be no reduction in monthly payments and if I could not pay, they would freeze my checking account.
As you can imagine, that went over well with me. I was livid at this point. The bank manager asked me to lower my voice and come into her office. I replied, “Not a chance. You need to talk to me right here and now in front of the rest of your account holders!”
Security was called, but held at bay. I could not believe what was happening here. I went in to try and work with them and they are going to try and steal my money? I wasn’t having it. This was the single loudest discussion I have ever had in a public place. They finally agreed to “allow” me to use my own money. BUT under the conditions that it could only be used for groceries, gas or utilities. What right they had to do that, I don’t believe any. I was so angry at this point I told her to go **** herself and I wrote a large check to the electric company telling her I would rather have a credit with them for a long time than for Suncoast to steal my money.
At this point, I stopped paying them not only because I could not any longer but purely on principal.
A few months later I got a notice in the mail that a judgment had been issued by the courts against me for the total of my credit card balance.
Never had I received notice or subpoena that there was a court date, or that this was even a case. I had no chance to defend myself. I called Suncoast and was told they would not speak with me and I had to talk to their attorney. I called the attorney who told me that it was too bad I missed the court date and yes, I now had to pay the entire judgment.
I have been trying since then to get that judgment removed from my credit. Nothing I have tried has worked. Eventually life got in the way, and I did set it aside and forget about it.
This was all back in 2011. Now here we are in 2016. I have not heard from Suncoast, the courts, or anyone else related to this since that time.
February 2016. I get a knock at my door. I open it to see the Collier County Sherriff. My first thought was that someone must have died. I think my heart skipped a beat.
When he showed me paperwork saying they were taking my car I was completely and totally confused. My car was paid off in full. There was no loan and no outstanding balance and it had never once had anything to do with Suncoast.
The courts had issued a levy against my property (my car) in order to recover this debt. Now the debt originally was just over $4,000. They were now demanding nearly $8,000 in interest and fees and lawyer expenses.
There is no other word for this than LEGALIZED EXTORTION.
Even the IRS will not take your only means of transportation. Apparently Suncoast Federal Credit Union will.
I had my attorney call and speak with their legal representative, Jeffrey Joseph Mouch of Tampa, FL who was unwilling to budge even $1 in bargaining to get the car back. After all, they already had my car, why should they?
Fees mounting daily for storage and a whopping $850 for a newspaper ad if they had to place one for the auction (what kind of newspaper ad for a car auction costs that much I have no idea)… I managed to scrape together all of the money as the car was worth far more….
https://www.suncoastcreditunion.com <—- don’t bank here!
Author: Sarah J. Barendse