Phoenix man questions student loan, discovers he owes money

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Charles Zaremba says he's struggling with his health.

"I'm beginning to see a cardiologist, which they found an unusual beat in my heartbeat," Zaremba told 3 On Your Side.

And his health didn't get any better, he said, when he received this bill in the mail from the U.S. Department of Education saying he owed the agency money.

"When this first hit me, which was February 14, 2012, I was almost thrown in a hospital for that," Zaremba explained.

That's because the bill said he owed $8,600 in back student loans from 20 years ago. But Zaremba said he doesn't remember ever taking out the student loans.

"I've never taken any loans out," Zaremba said.

Zaremba said he called the Department of Education, but all they would tell him was to pay up.

"Right now they're telling me I owe money and they have no proof," Zaremba explained.

3 On Your Side contacted the Department of Education and asked them to look into the bill. In the meantime, we also did some digging around and came across some documents that indicated Zaremba may have actually taken out those loans after all.

So, a 3 On Your Side crew showed the document with Zaremba's signature to Zaremba.

"It looks like it, I don't know, I don't remember doing the loan," Zaremba said.

After showing Zaremba some other information, he determined that he actually did take out $8,600 in school loans, but that it was so long ago he simply forgot.

"I've almost gotten hit twice with scams and I was looking at this like another scam like someone was trying to get $9,000 that I don't got and that's why I wanted proof that this wasn't me," Zaremba told 3 On Your Side.

Zaremba also thanked 3 On Your Side for clearing up the confusion.

"Now I know how to proceed, and step forward and try and make payment arrangements with the government to make sure they get something and I really, really thank you guys," Zaremba said.

We hope Zaremba's health gets better. And like he said, he's working on a payment plan with the Department of Education.