Associated Press

California’s attorney general is suing the nation’s largest student loan processor, alleging it is harming consumers by failing to properly service the debts.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that the state will sue Navient Corp., contending the company financially harmed thousands of Californians.

The lawsuit claims the firm systematically and illegally failed to properly service federal student loans.

About 4.6 million Americans were in default on their student loans as of December, more than double what it was four years ago.

A federal watchdog and attorneys general in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington sued Navient last year.

Navient did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests seeking comment. But Navient previously called similar lawsuits unfounded and based on new requirements that the suits seek to apply to old loans.

DON THOMPSON, Associated Press