How to Determine if an Online Institution is Credible

Guest Blog Post by Brittany Lyons ~ 


——————————–

According to a November 2011 study by Babson Survey Research Group, more than 6.1 million students enrolled in at least one web-based class in 2010, an increase of more than 10 percent from the previous year. Online degrees offer educational credentials from the comfort of one’s living home—but experts say the convenience carries substantial risk. Fraudulent institutions that offer worthless degrees pose a threat to well-meaning young people who hope to receive a real education.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported that e-learning scams have snared hundreds of victims. Typically, these “schools” offer university and high school diplomas for cash. Students complete courses and receive a certificate in the mail, only to be told it holds no academic value by admission offices, employers and military recruiters. Unfortunately these “diploma mills” that have become more prevalent as online student numbers rise.

However that is not say all schools found online are scams. The BBB acknowledges that many online institutions are reputable and offer legitimate services, providing some students who may not otherwise been able attend school in a traditional setting an opportunity to enhance their education. BBB spokesman Steve Cox points out, “Education is one of the keys to advancing in life and having a diploma or advanced degree can certainly make a difference when it comes to getting into college or landing a higher-paying job.”

If a student does decide to attend an online school, a resource for accredited online PhD degrees explains that it is important for the student to thoroughly investigate the college prior to enrollment. The most crucial aspect to explore is whether the university is accredited and by whom. The BBB adds that one good way to determine accreditation is to crosscheck the program with the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. If students still have questions about the program, they want to visit an admissions office at a state college or university to ensure that the degree will help applicants earn consideration from admissions departments in the future.

There are also a number of red flags that indicate a potentially shady institution. A course-load that rewards points based on “life experience” or unusually easy exams often denotes a scam. The same is true of any “guarantees” of completion made by the program to the student, or deals for those who sign up to earn multiple degrees at once. “People who want to further themselves see something that looks really quick and easy,” Houston’s BBB spokeswoman told ABCNews.com. “People should know that if they get a college degree, there is a lot of time involved.”

Students should also note the program’s contact information. Illegitimate programs often list addresses with suite numbers and post office boxes, while the phone number may not be listed at all. Foreign offices should also be treated as suspicious, especially if the program’s description makes no mention of international culture or overseas-based curriculum.

The BBB shut down three fraudulent online degree programs last year, but the organization claims many more are still lurking on the web. Operated by the same parent company, Belford High School and Belford University are the biggest offenders—with 117 complaints from individuals in 40 states. The high school program offers a high school diploma based on “life experience;” according to its site, which also claims 99 percent of colleges accept the degree. The university program offers associate, bachelor and even doctorate degrees for no more than $1,400. However, the BBB says that in reality the degrees are not seen as proper credentials by colleges or military recruiters.

Another violator is MMDS Ltd., a company based in the St. Kitts. Their most popular program, Jefferson High School Online (JHSO), offers high school diplomas for roughly $200. Course results are determined by a “life experience” questionnaire, which asks students to list musical tastes and preferred weekend activities. Following the questionnaire, the student takes a multiple-choice test that provides hints and allows three incorrect guesses per question. More than a hundred JHSO “graduates” have complained to the BBB about numerous rejections from colleges nationwide.

As young men and women strive to earn a degree and enter the American work force, it is important for them to proceed with caution. Online college scams represent the most recent incarnation of fraudulent Internet practices that have evolved to match consumer trends and web activity. Luckily, the headaches associated with obtaining a worthless degree can be avoided with a thorough preliminary investigation, and an eye for sketchy web conduct.

——————————–


Brittany Lyons aspires to be a psychology professor, but decided to take some time off from grad school to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog.

Survey

I put out the request for people to take a survey the other day, and it seems like there was a “glitch” in the system that would not allow some people to complete the survey.  I spoke with the person in charge of the survey and it has been fixed.  The survey can be accessed here.

http://survey.scamresearch.info//43356/lang-en

More scam emails

Here is another sample of a scam email

Subject: Greetings From London & Business Proposal
From: work102@virgilio.it
Reply To: archiek73@yahoo.com
To: work102@virgilio.it

Greetings,

Following the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer,that all accounts that have been dormant for over 15years be transferred to the Treasury i send this mail.
I discovered a dormant account in my office, as officer in charge. It will be in my interest to transfer this fund worth 20,000,000 million British pounds in an account outside UK. If you are willing to be a collaborator/partner to this please indicate interest immediately.

Remember this is absolutely a non public affair,as i am seeking your assistance as the beneficiary of this unclaimed account, since we are not allowed to operate a foreign account,Your contact phone numbers and name will be necessary for this effect,I have reposed my confidence in you and hope that you will not disappoint me.

My Regards,
Archie Kane

Identity Theft

As some of you know, I am a big supporter of Denise Richardson and GiveMeBackMyCredit.com, so I want to share her triumphs with all of you.

Denise was recently interviewed for an article called No One is Safe: Identity Theft in Modern Times.

Here is a portion of the article

When Richardson went to apply for a separate loan, it became shockingly clear that Shawmut Bank, her mortgage lender, had incorrectly calculated her monthly payments and, in some instances, simply didn’t apply the payments at all. Richardson then took the initiative to review the payment records — both her own via the coupon stubs as well as what little information that the bank had on file — but due to Shawmut’s repeated miscalculations, it became completely hopeless to verify the remaining balance on her mortgage account.

Richardson did not, however, sit back passively and allow the Shawmut Bank to take advantage of her. In fact, she filed a federal lawsuit against the company to amend their financial faults and hinder further maltreatment from happening to others.

Richardson’s history of inaccurate credit reports does not end there. In 2001 she again became a victim of fraud, this time in the form of $9,000 worth of airline tickets charged to her credit card by an unknown identity thief. Then again in December 2009, her credit card was charged with cable billing fees from a company other than her own cable provider. In regards to all three instances, Richardson remarks, “It’s something that I didn’t even do.”

To read the article in full go to No One is Safe: Identity Theft in Modern Times.

Dear FTC: Please go after the real predators. – Denise Richardson

My friend Denise Richardson of Give Me Back My Credit wrote an article about the FTC regulating the way identity theft prevention is advertised, and the press conference yesterday that involved LifeLock . . . whom Denise is a long time LifeLock supporter.

To read the article, go to Dear FTC: Please go after the real predators. – Denise Richardson

Posted using ShareThis

Fake Bridal Expo in Boston Scams Brides-to-Be – AOL News

Nigerian National Charged with Attempting to Destroy Northwest Airlines Aircraft

http://detroit.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/de122609.htm

WASHINGTON—A 23-year-old Nigerian man was charged in a federal criminal complaint today with attempting to destroy a Northwest Airlines aircraft on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day and with placing a destructive device on the aircraft.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian national, boarded Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 24, 2009 and had a device attached to his body. As the flight was approaching Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device, which resulted in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion. Abdulmutallab was then subdued and restrained by the passengers and flight crew. The airplane landed shortly thereafter, and he was taken into custody by Customs and Border Patrol officers.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a high explosive. Further analysis is ongoing. In addition, FBI agents recovered what appear to be the remnants of the syringe from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab’s seat, believed to have been part of the device.

“This alleged attack on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice

Abdulmutallab required medical treatment and was transported to the University of Michigan Medical Center after the plane landed. He will make his initial court appearance later today.

Interviews of all of the passengers and crew of Flight 253 revealed that prior to the incident, Abdulmutallab went to the bathroom for approximately 20 minutes, according to the affidavit. Upon returning to his seat, Abdulmutallab stated that his stomach was upset, and he pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odor, and some observed Abdulmutallab’s pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire. Passengers and crew then subdued Abdulmutallab and used blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the flames. Passengers reported that Abdulmutallab was calm and lucid throughout. One flight attendant asked him what he had had in his pocket, and he replied “explosive device.”

These prosecutions are being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The public is reminded that criminal complaints contain mere allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.