Consumer Alert: Don’t Get Schooled By Diploma Mill Scam

diplomafraud March 10, 2012 0

By Erin Levine

You do your homework before choosing a company to do business with, right? The same rule should apply when choosing a school to attend or an employee to hire.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people have been caught buying phony credentials from “diploma mills”, which are companies that sell degrees online for a flat fee, based solely on “work or life experience”. These fraudulent universities victimize students, employers and accredited universities.

There are two types of diploma mills. The first type sells look-alike diplomas to consumers who know it is fraudulent, but need a certification fast for personal or professional reasons. The other type targets unsuspecting potential students, who are offered an unaccredited degree through the mail and are tricked into thinking they are receiving a degree from an accredited university, when in reality, the meaningless degree has no value.

Because popularity in online education has increased, so has the popularity of the diploma mill scam. These fraudulent universities are taking business away from the legitimate schools, and damaging the credibility of nontraditional education. As for employers, if they don’t do the proper research, they could risk hiring someone who is dishonest, or not qualified for the position, increasing potential liability.

Whether you are an employer shuffling through resumes, or a potential student seeking out higher education, here are some tips to spotting a Diploma Mill:

1. A degree earned in a very short time. It takes about four years to earn an undergraduate degree, and up to two years for a master’s degree. Diploma Mills offer students degrees within as little as 30 days of applying. Also be wary of the ability to earn multiple degrees in the same year.

2. The school is not accredited by a recognized agency. Diploma mills may claim to be accredited, but by agencies that may not even exist. You can check out which schools are accredited by a legitimate organization by visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies, a database of accredited academic institutions. Unless the university is accredited by a nationally recognized agency, proceed with caution.

3. The name of the university is similar to a well-known university. These fraudulent schools tend to market online, and may even have a website address ending in .edu, causing further confusion of authenticity. When checking out a school’s website, it could be a diploma mill if tuition is charged per degree, rather than per credit, there are few or unspecified degree requirements with an emphasis on life experience, or if the school is relatively new or has just changed its name.

Source : .bbb

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