CHICAGO (CBS) — Some 43 million Americans have student debt; borrowers across the country owe $1.5 trillion on federal student loans. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory has a cautionary tale of what not to do to make that debt disappear.

You can barely make out the scuffs on the Merrillville, Indiana, building that used to spell out ITT Tech. The for-profit college abruptly closed 2 ½ years ago, but left strong memories in its fading absence.

Graduate Christina Katschke is now happily employed, but this nurse is feeling ill herself.

“Every morning, I’ve been waking up thinking about it. It’s just frustrating that people can take advantage of other people’s money,” she said.

With a $60,000 education loan weighing over her head, an inquiry from National Credit Protection was intriguing, claiming “you’ll see all your loans just disappear.”

After doing some research, Katschke paid the debt relief company $699 last November, but they haven’t paid a dime of her loans.

Her emails to a company representative keep bouncing back. Her calls go unanswered.

The web portal containing her documents didn’t work for weeks. When she tried to access it through a different email, she found her information listed with an entirely different company, Freedom Financial Aid.

A representative for that company promised to connect Katschke to the National Credit Protection division.

Asked if they’re still in business, he said yes, but then hung up on Katschke.

At this point, her loans are on hold, but she’s at least hoping for her $699 back.

“Somebody took my money and didn’t think twice about it. They didn’t care; my hard-earned money,” she said.

Midland State Bank refused to discuss Katschke’s case when asked about her refund. Neither National Credit Protection nor Freedom Financial Aid responded to questions.

Lauren Victory