Fraudulent Online Schools: Some Warning Signs

About this article
While many online schools offer legitimate degrees, some of them are in it for money and couldn't care less about student concerns. This article contains information on warning signs you should be aware of when considering acquiring a diploma from an online school.
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Warning Signs for Fraudulent Online Schools

Some online 'schools' make money by providing you with a bogus degree that may have cost you several hundreds or thousands of dollars, but is worthless. When choosing an online school, you need to be aware of the following warning signs of fraudulent online schools:

1) Fake accreditation

2) Limited contact information

3) Fancy website

4) .EDU website extension

5) FAQs

6) Extreme claims

Fake Accreditation

Be sure the school you are considering is accredited by an appropriate regional association. This may mean actually getting in contact with someone at the accreditation agency, for some online degree websites provide links to phony accreditation websites. Remember, it's your education. Anyone can claim accreditation, but it is up to you to do your homework.

Limited Contact Information

Limited contact information is another way of detecting fraudulent online schools. Be wary of any school that doesn't provide both a phone number and a physical address. Contact only by email is a covert and convenient way to dupe unsuspecting victims. Every legitimate school needs to provide students with a way to get help either in person or over the phone.

Fancy Website

Don't be duped by fancy websites. Anyone can produce a shoddy website for virtually nothing, but phony online schools have the income to produce well-designed websites. Many people rely on the 'look' and 'feel' of a website to determine its authenticity. Naturally, organizations with official looking websites are taken seriously. Don't get let the appeal of the website's look distract you from questioning the site's authenticity

Domain Name

Don't be fooled with a website's Top-level domain (TLD): the letter just after the dot in a web address. Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org, states that the theory for these letters is to designate particular organizations. For example, .com is used by companies, .gov is used by United States government agencies, and .edu is used by educational institutions. This, however, is only in theory. Fraudulent schools are well aware of TLD designations and ensure that their websites end in .edu to give them a more professional look. In practice a school isn't necessarily affiliated with a legitimate educational organization because its address ends in a .edu. Any individual or organization, including a fraudulent school, can purchase an .edu site.

FAQs

FAQs in and of themselves aren't a warning sign of a fraudulent website. However, if the FAQs sound more like a sales pitch than unbiased information, maybe a this should raise a red flag. Don't believe absolutely everything you read, especially online. Fraudulent online school websites will certainly not rule out blatant lies.

Extreme Claims

It is natural to want the best value for your money, but if you encounter an online degree website boasting extreme deals, be careful. Any school claiming you can finish a degree extremely quickly or with minimal work involved is likely to be a fake. As the old saying goes, 'deals that sound too good to be true usually are.'

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Johns Hopkins University

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Tulane University

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Claremont Graduate University

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