(CBS) — Young millennials in their twenties and early thirties are a new target for scammers.
With many in that demographic shouldering huge student loans, they’re looking for relief from the crushing payments.
2 Investigator Pam Zekman says watch out for these scams, especially on social media.
“I was on Facebook , I was on social media, I came across an online ad,” recalls Amy Trench.
Carolina Garcia has her own story: “So, I clicked on it and it said to fill out a form and they called me maybe two minutes after.”
Garcia and Trench both owe thousands of dollars in student loan debt and both were looking for relief.
“You have this big heavy weight on your shoulders,” Garcia says.
She contacted a company called the Student Aid Center. They promised to consolidate her loans and lower her monthly payments. She paid them about $1,000 before she realized it was a scam.
“I had been paying them to do a service that essentially my student loan providers could have done for free,” she says.
The Student Aid Center filed for bankruptcy in Florida last year, but documents that the 2 Investigators obtained show the company earned $36-million in revenue since 2014.
The government does provide some relief from student loans and never charges any fees, but not everyone qualifies for the program.
Trench thought she was dealing with a government agency when she paid a company that calls itself the Student Loan Forgiveness Bill a $650 application fee to consolidate and ultimately forgive her student loans.
“When people see an opportunity for some type of forgiveness, I think I was almost vulnerable to that because I wanted it to be true,” she says.
When her payments didn’t decrease Trench called her loan provider. She was told she’d been scammed.
For Trench, who already owed more than $20,000 in student loans, the loss of another $650 added insult to injury.
“I know my $650 is long gone, but this is happening and it’s happening to good, hardworking people,” she says.
Steve Bernas, president and chief executive officer for the Better Business Bureau of Chicago, is troubled by the targeting of millennial grads.
“These are students who are trying to get out of a loan, debt and somebody’s coming along to take advantage of them again,” Bernas says.
Student Aid Center is being sued by the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive practices. The Student Loan Forgiveness Bill has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Neither company responded to our request for comment. For info on how to get legitimate student loan debt relief, click here.