Bureau warns consumers about diploma mill scams

Published on Saturday, 29 March 2014 23:47 - Written by Mechele Agbayani Mills Tyler Better Business Bureau

BBB is warning consumers against online programs which offer fast and easy high school diplomas or college degrees. As many people struggle to find a job, earning a diploma or an advanced degree is one way to stand out from the crowd, but unless the educational institution is certified and legitimate, the degree obtained won’t be worth the paper it was printed on.

According to a survey conducted by the Sloan Consortium and Babson Survey Research Group, the number of students who were enrolled in at least one online course surpassed 7.1 million in 2013, which makes up more than 33 percent of higher education students. Unfortunately, not all institutions offering online diplomas or degrees are legitimate and individuals looking to get ahead are being duped by diploma mills.

Colleges and universities accredited by legitimate organizations undergo a rigorous review of the quality of their educational programs. The same is true of high schools. Although many diploma mills claim to be “accredited,” their accreditation is from a bogus, but official-sounding agency they created.

Education is one of the keys to advancing in life and having a diploma or advanced degree can certainly make a significant difference. While the Internet enables learning through online curriculum, it also makes it easier for scammers to sell phony high school diplomas and college degrees.

BBB is warning consumers to be wary of online diploma mills and cites these red flags to help identify them:

No studies, no exams: Get a degree for your experience. Diploma mills grant degrees for “work or life experience” alone. Accredited colleges may give a few credits for specific experiencepertinent to a degree program, but not an entire degree. 

No attendance: Legitimate colleges or universities, including online schools, require substantial course work. 

Flat fee:  Many diploma mills charge on a per-degree basis. Legitimate colleges charge by the credit, course, or semester, not a flat fee for an entire degree. 

No waiting:  Operations that guarantee a degree in a few days, weeks, or even months aren’t legitimate. If an ad promises that you can earn a degree very quickly, it’s probably a diploma mill. 

Click here to order now!:Some diploma mills push themselves through aggressive sales tactics. Accredited colleges don’t use spam or high-pressure telemarketing to market themselves. Some diploma mills also advertise in newspapers, magazines, and on the Web. 

Advertising through spam or pop-ups: If the school caught your attention through an unsolicited email or pop-up ad, it may be a diploma mill. Legitimate institutions, including distance learning programs, won’t advertise through spam or pop-ups.

Always check the organization at bbb.org and make sure the college or university you are enrolling in is accredited from one of the regional accreditation boards. The U.S. Department of Education has a searchable database of accredited post-secondary schools at: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraud or unscrupulous business activity, please call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373.