Online colleges are popular among people looking to improve their career prospects. When you’ve got bills pressing down on you, your day job to worry about, and you still want to go to school, online school is a great resource. Legitimate online universities offer you a chance to earn your degree while working around your schedule.
However, there is a dark side to this world: degree farms and online scams that are posing as colleges. Here’s how to tell what’s real and what’s fake when you’re on the lookout for education scams. Whether you’re dealing with a legitimate university or a complete fake can be hard to tell unless you know what to look for. Read on to find out our tips for protecting yourself when you’re looking to shore up your education and give yourself more options in your future career.
Of course, the most common form of online scam, of all stripes, is the tried-and-true phishing scam. In these types of scams, those with some coding talent create a believable fake of an already-existing website in order to get your login information or other sensitive info. In the education sphere, this could play out as a convincing fake of a school application.
You could fill out the application, including sensitive info like your social security number and birthday, only for it to go to a scammer instead of a legitimate university. In these situations, you’re out of luck: once a scammer has your info, it’s only a matter of time before they commit identity fraud using your accounts and your credit.
Over the years, a number of “universities” that operate solely online have been exposed to be little more than scams designed to part “students” from their money. In these cases, people with degrees from these organizations find themselves in possession of a very expensive piece of paper that means nothing at all.
How can you avoid this situation? Do your research. When you see a school advertising their classes online, do some thorough background investigation into them. Find out if they’re a legitimate, accredited university, or whether they’re a “certification program”.
Often, “certification programs” are actually just scams operating under false pretenses. Don’t let yourself get taken for a ride. Ask questions, do your research, and find out who you’re really dealing with before you start sending personal info and payments to an online-only organization.