Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed charges against two operators of alleged online high schools that claim to be legitimate but are “little more than diploma mills charging anywhere from $135 to $349 for a worthless certificate,” according to a press release on the FTC website.
The FTC claims these two alleged diploma mills – using names like West Madison Falls High School, Columbia Northern High School, Stafford High School, and others – misled consumers about their legitimacy and association with recognized high school equivalency programs.
“The defendants took advantage of people who wanted a high school diploma,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If a company says you can get a diploma in no time at all or by simply taking an online test, it’s almost certainly a scam.”
The FTC claims “courses” amounted to untimed and unmonitored multiple-choice tests with a required score of 70 percent. For some alleged diploma mills, students failing to meet that standard were redirected to take the test once more with the correct answers highlighted.
The filings by the FTC point to numerous cases of consumers who sought to use the diplomas they received from the alleged diploma mills to get jobs, apply for college, and even join the military, only to find out that their diplomas were not recognized.
The FTC asked the court for a temporary restraining order halting the operations and freezing the assets of the two defendants. The FTC press release is at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/02/ftc-brings-two-actions-against-operators-online-high-schools.
The FTC – which works to protect and educate consumers – has also produced an article with advice on what to watch out for with regard to online high school diploma mills that is available at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0539-high-school-diploma-scams.
To combat the growing problem of diploma mills in the United States, schools are generally accredited by private organizations recognized as legitimate accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education.
CHEA created a Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Post-Secondary Education (OPE) provides a Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
U.S. businesses also need to be aware of the problem of diploma mills, according to Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of San Francisco, California-area background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’
“Diploma mills create a danger to employers since educational achievements tell a great deal about a job applicant’s ability, qualifications, and motivation,” says Rosen, who wrote an article on education verifications explaining how employers can avoid being tricked by diploma mills.
NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.
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