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Mil Star Card debt - why is it so hard??

The last post in this topic was posted 1122 days ago. 

 

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My husband got hurt in 2010 and was ETS out of the Army (long story but his unit screwed him out of a medical discharge because it was quicker to ETS as he was stop lossed when he got hurt). When he ETS we had a balance on the Star Card at about $9,000. We planned on paying it back when he get his retro pay from his disability claim.

 

When the retro pay came Dfas took nearly all his retro pay to pay back his separation pay they gave us when he got out so we couldn't pay the Star Card.

 

Last year our tax refund was garnished and the whole amount went to the Star Card debt ($6,987). We are finally in a place financially where we can start taking care of all this debt so I called the debt collection office for AAFES and they said they sent it to NCO. I called NCO and they said they sent it to another company (DECA?). I called DECA and this is where everything gets interesting. They have been sending notices to a PO BOX I had like 5 years ago that was NEVER associated with this account. In fact the name on this PO Box was only me with my previous married name before my husband and I were married. I asked why they sent notices to that address and they said that is the information that came with this debt. I wasn't going to argue because I know that is pointless. I asked for their mailing addy so I can debt validate as well.

 

I then asked for the amount to pay off the debt - he said $8632. Umm.... WHAT???? I said that can't be right because we paid nearly $7,000 on this account and $4,000 in interest and fees is a little much. He started stumbling his words and was confused and not sure what to say after that.

 

I am PISSED. We want to get our debt taken care of but we don't want to $4,000 in interest either.

 

I have seen other posts talk about asking AAFES to recall the debt but how can they do that if the debt was sold again?

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I'll give you the best info I can based on my recent similar experience... You first need to realize that AAFES debt (or any debt subject to the TOPS program - see below if you are not familiar with TOPS) is a whole different animal than the normal creditors, and therefore some methods which are verboten for normal debts are the only solution with AAFES.

 

Since the debt has been subject to garnishment from your tax returns, you need to:

 

A ) Cease ALL contact with ANYONE who is not AAFES. Period.

 

B ) Fill out the form at this link : http://www.shopmyexchange.com/CustomerService/irsfeedback.htm I. The comments section, request the current balance remaining to be offset. I also specified in comments that I would NOT deal with NCO.

 

This is the form for AAFES' "Treasury Offset Program". They will contact you via email within a few days with details on amount owed and, most importantly, the name and number of an AAFES specialist who deals specifically with accounts which have gone to TOPS (TOPS is the gov program which allows them to garnish federal pay and tax returns)

 

C ) Determine if you can afford to pay in full the amount owed. If so, you can pay them direct (this will be a lesser amount that the collection agency is reporting, NCO's total amount due includes a 26% service charge which TOPS does not collect). Paying in full is the ONLY way you can deal directly with TOPS, otherwise you will have to deal with the collection agency (or rather wait for additional tax offsets to clear your account). TOPS will also immediately recall the debt from whichever CA holds it if you agree to pay in full. NORMALLY, you wouldn't do such a thing, but TOPS will get the money - it's not even a question. The best move here is to pay the bill and get it out of the hands of NCO or whichever CA is handling it.

 

If you do the above, AAFES will offer to send you a PIF letter. They also will not update your credit report or reset the clock on your 7 year period unless you request them to do so (whether or not that is wise depends on what is currently reported. Mine was only showing 60-90 days late, and was due to age off in early 2015 anyhow, so I took the PIF letter but requested they not send a credit update)

 

I have been told that AAFES will not respond to disputes or verifications from a CRA, therefore I have now disputed the late notations on my reports and am awaiting resolution on that front.

 

Hope it helps. I was subject to tax return offset for the last 2 years, and decided to go this route within the last couple of months. I can honestly say that after speaking with NCO, the AAFES TOPS specialist was an absolute godsend. She was pleasant, knowledgeable and very matter of fact - no funny stuff.

 

Best of luck!

Edited by b75

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Thank you so much for all of the information.

 

Quick question: The tax offset goes directly to AAFES or the CA?

 

We are getting ready to file our tax return and know we will get a refund and we are ok with it going towards this debt. Should we wait until until the refund is sent to AAFES before we fill out the form? Once they collect this payment fro our refund our account should be completely paid off, would this be an issue?

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Thank you so much for all of the information.

 

Quick question: The tax offset goes directly to AAFES or the CA?

 

We are getting ready to file our tax return and know we will get a refund and we are ok with it going towards this debt. Should we wait until until the refund is sent to AAFES before we fill out the form? Once they collect this payment fro our refund our account should be completely paid off, would this be an issue?

 

Any "garnishment" via the Tax Offset goes directly to the original debt (In this case AAFES), as per my conversation with the TOPS representative. She seemed unwilling to discuss it at any length (I'm guessing that they have a contract in place with NCO which binds them to keep certain details secret, perhaps?) - but when I pinned it down to "I refuse to deal with NCO, and in lieu of an option to deal directly with AAFES I'll just let it offset again", then she admitted that offsetting via TOPS would indeed cut NCO out of the process. It was notable also that the $900+ figure which NCO had quoted me was EXACTLY 26% more than the $7XX figure that AAFES quoted me to pay TOPS in full, the representative stating that PIF'g them in a single payment would nullify NCOs 26% collection fee. (So the math added up to back her story).

 

Keep in mind, all of this is based off my one, single experience with them (although recent, within the last month) so there very well could be some variables of which I'm unaware.

 

 

As far as your question about filling out the form? It's non-binding in any way, simply an avenue to get the information directly from TOPS without anyone else's input (specifically without NCO being in the mix) of exactly what you owe and how much they will be garnishing from your return. If it were me, I'd go ahead and fill out the form to get the info - just to have a hard set of numbers to compare to after the fact in case there's a descrepancy. (ie: They take $500 from your refund, and then someone comes after you for more $$$. You could display the TOPS statement that you owed $500, together with your offset statement of them having taken $500, to build a pretty convincing argument for a PIF letter from the creditor.)

 

Also, keep in mind that you do HAVE to request the PIF letter via a call - they won't mail one out absent a request.

 

 

 

Best of Luck!!!

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When they got back to you initially did they send an email something like this

 

"Thank you for contacting the Exchange Collections Department. Please be advised your Military Star Card account is currently with our third party collection agency, NCO and you will have to contact them for further balance and account information at the below:"

 

This is what we got back this morning. =(

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OnlyUp - reply to that email in the following manner.

 

Attn. Settlement Department,

I am requesting to settle the amount owed on my delinquent military star card account. My records show that our original balance was $,$$$. In 20xx, my taxes were garnished in the amount of $,$$$ and paid to you. In 20xx, my federal income taxes were again garnished in the amount of $,$$$. In 20xx, my federal income tax refund was garnished for the full amount of $,$$$. This should leave an outstanding balance of $,$$$. I am willing to pay this amount in full immediately with the agreement that I will receive a Paid In Full letter upon receipt of the payment, the account with NCO will be closed and a court order to cease and desist all garnishments be put in place. I can be contacted at 555-555-5555. I have attached the scanned copies of the letters from the IRS indicating the amount garnished from my federal tax returns for your convenience. Any identifiable information you may need to look up my account will be on those pages. If you should have any questions or need additional information from me, I can be reached at the number listed above.
Very respectfully,
Your Name Here
We literally just did this. We replied to that email AND copied collections@aafes.com. Give it a few days and call them to verify receipt of the settlement offer. They got back to us within 10 days with a counter offer.
The counter offer was much more than we expected but we paid them in full that day and are now out from under their thumb.
b75 - Thank you so much for putting this information out there. My husband's wages were being garnished and we were being forced to pay over $800/month to them.
Your post literally saved our butts and I cannot thank you enough for putting this all out there.
To add to this thread... In order to determine if the tax hold on income taxes has been removed, do not call the IRS. They cannot help you.
Call the Bureau of Fiscal Services at 1-800-304-3107.
Good Luck!

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OnlyUp - reply to that email in the following manner.

 

Attn. Settlement Department,

I am requesting to settle the amount owed on my delinquent military star card account. My records show that our original balance was $,$$$. In 20xx, my taxes were garnished in the amount of $,$$$ and paid to you. In 20xx, my federal income taxes were again garnished in the amount of $,$$$. In 20xx, my federal income tax refund was garnished for the full amount of $,$$$. This should leave an outstanding balance of $,$$$. I am willing to pay this amount in full immediately with the agreement that I will receive a Paid In Full letter upon receipt of the payment, the account with NCO will be closed and a court order to cease and desist all garnishments be put in place. I can be contacted at 555-555-5555. I have attached the scanned copies of the letters from the IRS indicating the amount garnished from my federal tax returns for your convenience. Any identifiable information you may need to look up my account will be on those pages. If you should have any questions or need additional information from me, I can be reached at the number listed above.
Very respectfully,
Your Name Here
We literally just did this. We replied to that email AND copied collections@aafes.com. Give it a few days and call them to verify receipt of the settlement offer. They got back to us within 10 days with a counter offer.
The counter offer was much more than we expected but we paid them in full that day and are now out from under their thumb.
b75 - Thank you so much for putting this information out there. My husband's wages were being garnished and we were being forced to pay over $800/month to them.
Your post literally saved our butts and I cannot thank you enough for putting this all out there.
To add to this thread... In order to determine if the tax hold on income taxes has been removed, do not call the IRS. They cannot help you.
Call the Bureau of Fiscal Services at 1-800-304-3107.
Good Luck!

 

 

Thank you so much. Do you know who reports the balance to be garnished? They took our refund last year and I was told the balance due was approx $3500 but they took like $4700 this year. I know NCO sold the debt to someone else and now they are claiming a very high balance of about $8500 (and that is after the $6500 payment they say shows from last year).

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Just an UPDATE for anyone else who may be going through all of this. I called AAFES/Mil Star and asked about the current status and she said it was PIF due to the recent tax garnishment and that she would recall the debt and send me a PIF notice. I asked her about the difference between the amounts and she told me it was the interest that hit the account. But I am so happy to be DONE with them.

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I was very glad to read this post, it's the first thing I've ever found that actually helped me understand my star card debt. I thought they would take my tax returns FOREVER!

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Awesome stuff guys! God bless you all for sharing your experience and helping people like me feel hopeful about one day being totally debt free...

 

I'll give you the best info I can based on my recent similar experience... You first need to realize that AAFES debt (or any debt subject to the TOPS program - see below if you are not familiar with TOPS) is a whole different animal than the normal creditors, and therefore some methods which are verboten for normal debts are the only solution with AAFES.

Since the debt has been subject to garnishment from your tax returns, you need to:

A ) Cease ALL contact with ANYONE who is not AAFES. Period.

B ) Fill out the form at this link : http://www.shopmyexchange.com/CustomerService/irsfeedback.htm I. The comments section, request the current balance remaining to be offset. I also specified in comments that I would NOT deal with NCO.

This is the form for AAFES' "Treasury Offset Program". They will contact you via email within a few days with details on amount owed and, most importantly, the name and number of an AAFES specialist who deals specifically with accounts which have gone to TOPS (TOPS is the gov program which allows them to garnish federal pay and tax returns)

C ) Determine if you can afford to pay in full the amount owed. If so, you can pay them direct (this will be a lesser amount that the collection agency is reporting, NCO's total amount due includes a 26% service charge which TOPS does not collect). Paying in full is the ONLY way you can deal directly with TOPS, otherwise you will have to deal with the collection agency (or rather wait for additional tax offsets to clear your account). TOPS will also immediately recall the debt from whichever CA holds it if you agree to pay in full. NORMALLY, you wouldn't do such a thing, but TOPS will get the money - it's not even a question. The best move here is to pay the bill and get it out of the hands of NCO or whichever CA is handling it.

If you do the above, AAFES will offer to send you a PIF letter. They also will not update your credit report or reset the clock on your 7 year period unless you request them to do so (whether or not that is wise depends on what is currently reported. Mine was only showing 60-90 days late, and was due to age off in early 2015 anyhow, so I took the PIF letter but requested they not send a credit update)

I have been told that AAFES will not respond to disputes or verifications from a CRA, therefore I have now disputed the late notations on my reports and am awaiting resolution on that front.

Hope it helps. I was subject to tax return offset for the last 2 years, and decided to go this route within the last couple of months. I can honestly say that after speaking with NCO, the AAFES TOPS specialist was an absolute godsend. She was pleasant, knowledgeable and very matter of fact - no funny stuff.

Best of luck!

 

 

Can you direct me onto where to find this form? I clicked the link but it simply took me to the exchange home page. I'd really appreciate it.

 

Thanks,

 

Phil

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The above link no longer works! I called Tops and they told me I have to pay the collection agency, there is no other way to pay!

I'll give you the best info I can based on my recent similar experience... You first need to realize that AAFES debt (or any debt subject to the TOPS program - see below if you are not familiar with TOPS) is a whole different animal than the normal creditors, and therefore some methods which are verboten for normal debts are the only solution with AAFES.

Since the debt has been subject to garnishment from your tax returns, you need to:

A ) Cease ALL contact with ANYONE who is not AAFES. Period.

B ) Fill out the form at this link : http://www.shopmyexchange.com/CustomerService/irsfeedback.htm I. The comments section, request the current balance remaining to be offset. I also specified in comments that I would NOT deal with NCO.

This is the form for AAFES' "Treasury Offset Program". They will contact you via email within a few days with details on amount owed and, most importantly, the name and number of an AAFES specialist who deals specifically with accounts which have gone to TOPS (TOPS is the gov program which allows them to garnish federal pay and tax returns)

C ) Determine if you can afford to pay in full the amount owed. If so, you can pay them direct (this will be a lesser amount that the collection agency is reporting, NCO's total amount due includes a 26% service charge which TOPS does not collect). Paying in full is the ONLY way you can deal directly with TOPS, otherwise you will have to deal with the collection agency (or rather wait for additional tax offsets to clear your account). TOPS will also immediately recall the debt from whichever CA holds it if you agree to pay in full. NORMALLY, you wouldn't do such a thing, but TOPS will get the money - it's not even a question. The best move here is to pay the bill and get it out of the hands of NCO or whichever CA is handling it.

If you do the above, AAFES will offer to send you a PIF letter. They also will not update your credit report or reset the clock on your 7 year period unless you request them to do so (whether or not that is wise depends on what is currently reported. Mine was only showing 60-90 days late, and was due to age off in early 2015 anyhow, so I took the PIF letter but requested they not send a credit update)

I have been told that AAFES will not respond to disputes or verifications from a CRA, therefore I have now disputed the late notations on my reports and am awaiting resolution on that front.

Hope it helps. I was subject to tax return offset for the last 2 years, and decided to go this route within the last couple of months. I can honestly say that after speaking with NCO, the AAFES TOPS specialist was an absolute godsend. She was pleasant, knowledgeable and very matter of fact - no funny stuff.

Best of luck!

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I'll give you the best info I can based on my recent similar experience... You first need to realize that AAFES debt (or any debt subject to the TOPS program - see below if you are not familiar with TOPS) is a whole different animal than the normal creditors, and therefore some methods which are verboten for normal debts are the only solution with AAFES.

 

Since the debt has been subject to garnishment from your tax returns, you need to:

 

A ) Cease ALL contact with ANYONE who is not AAFES. Period.

 

B ) Fill out the form at this link : http://www.shopmyexchange.com/CustomerService/irsfeedback.htm I. The comments section, request the current balance remaining to be offset. I also specified in comments that I would NOT deal with NCO.

 

This is the form for AAFES' "Treasury Offset Program". They will contact you via email within a few days with details on amount owed and, most importantly, the name and number of an AAFES specialist who deals specifically with accounts which have gone to TOPS (TOPS is the gov program which allows them to garnish federal pay and tax returns)

 

C ) Determine if you can afford to pay in full the amount owed. If so, you can pay them direct (this will be a lesser amount that the collection agency is reporting, NCO's total amount due includes a 26% service charge which TOPS does not collect). Paying in full is the ONLY way you can deal directly with TOPS, otherwise you will have to deal with the collection agency (or rather wait for additional tax offsets to clear your account). TOPS will also immediately recall the debt from whichever CA holds it if you agree to pay in full. NORMALLY, you wouldn't do such a thing, but TOPS will get the money - it's not even a question. The best move here is to pay the bill and get it out of the hands of NCO or whichever CA is handling it.

 

If you do the above, AAFES will offer to send you a PIF letter. They also will not update your credit report or reset the clock on your 7 year period unless you request them to do so (whether or not that is wise depends on what is currently reported. Mine was only showing 60-90 days late, and was due to age off in early 2015 anyhow, so I took the PIF letter but requested they not send a credit update)

 

I have been told that AAFES will not respond to disputes or verifications from a CRA, therefore I have now disputed the late notations on my reports and am awaiting resolution on that front.

 

Hope it helps. I was subject to tax return offset for the last 2 years, and decided to go this route within the last couple of months. I can honestly say that after speaking with NCO, the AAFES TOPS specialist was an absolute godsend. She was pleasant, knowledgeable and very matter of fact - no funny stuff.

 

Best of luck!

I know this is an older post, I am in the same boat as many other veterans. I tried the link you have listed, however it says it is non existent. Can you or anyone provide the link again, please. Thank you for the information, I plan on doing this ASAP. Happy New Year and thank you for sharing this information.

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The above link no longer works! I called Tops and they told me I have to pay the collection agency, there is no other way to pay!

I'll give you the best info I can based on my recent similar experience... You first need to realize that AAFES debt (or any debt subject to the TOPS program - see below if you are not familiar with TOPS) is a whole different animal than the normal creditors, and therefore some methods which are verboten for normal debts are the only solution with AAFES.

Since the debt has been subject to garnishment from your tax returns, you need to:

A ) Cease ALL contact with ANYONE who is not AAFES. Period.

B ) Fill out the form at this link : http://www.shopmyexchange.com/CustomerService/irsfeedback.htm I. The comments section, request the current balance remaining to be offset. I also specified in comments that I would NOT deal with NCO.

This is the form for AAFES' "Treasury Offset Program". They will contact you via email within a few days with details on amount owed and, most importantly, the name and number of an AAFES specialist who deals specifically with accounts which have gone to TOPS (TOPS is the gov program which allows them to garnish federal pay and tax returns)

C ) Determine if you can afford to pay in full the amount owed. If so, you can pay them direct (this will be a lesser amount that the collection agency is reporting, NCO's total amount due includes a 26% service charge which TOPS does not collect). Paying in full is the ONLY way you can deal directly with TOPS, otherwise you will have to deal with the collection agency (or rather wait for additional tax offsets to clear your account). TOPS will also immediately recall the debt from whichever CA holds it if you agree to pay in full. NORMALLY, you wouldn't do such a thing, but TOPS will get the money - it's not even a question. The best move here is to pay the bill and get it out of the hands of NCO or whichever CA is handling it.

If you do the above, AAFES will offer to send you a PIF letter. They also will not update your credit report or reset the clock on your 7 year period unless you request them to do so (whether or not that is wise depends on what is currently reported. Mine was only showing 60-90 days late, and was due to age off in early 2015 anyhow, so I took the PIF letter but requested they not send a credit update)

I have been told that AAFES will not respond to disputes or verifications from a CRA, therefore I have now disputed the late notations on my reports and am awaiting resolution on that front.

Hope it helps. I was subject to tax return offset for the last 2 years, and decided to go this route within the last couple of months. I can honestly say that after speaking with NCO, the AAFES TOPS specialist was an absolute godsend. She was pleasant, knowledgeable and very matter of fact - no funny stuff.

Best of luck!

 

No way??? That post gave me so much hope on cutting out the $7500 the CA is charging me from the 7700 original balance. SMH thank you for commenting.

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There are a lot of veterans here, but those posts are more than 2 years old. It looks like that program has been discontinued, but give it some time, maybe someone else has some insight that will help. It's a mess dealing with this kind of debt and a collection agency on top of that.

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http://www.aafes.com/customerservice/feedback.aspx

 

 

new link for you

 

 

HINT

 

sometimes a link that is requoted on the forum page ends up abbreviated because it's posting as plaintext and therefore doesn't work

 

 

in other cases the linked page is broke when they update the Orginal website and rename pages which is what happened here

 

so I went back to the main index page and found the new renamed feedback page

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