Protecting Test-Takers from Fraud. Paul Mussell VP & Assistant General Counsel

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1 Protecting Test-Takers from Fraud Paul Mussell VP & Assistant General Counsel

2 Agenda The Problem: diploma mills that use the GED brand to defraud adult learners What are diploma mills? Why are they so successful? What GED Testing Service Is Doing About It What You Can Do to Help Resources Q&A 2

3 3

4 What is a diploma mill? A diploma mill is an entity in which: degree-granting authority does not come from a generally accepted government agency procedures for granting credit and for determining amount and quality of work required to earn the degree, do not meet generally accepted standards those who make the decisions on credit, and on quantity and quality of work, do not have the appropriate credentials, experience, or training 4

5 Hallmarks of a diploma mill No admissions criteria Promise fast degrees for one low payment Diploma based on passing online test or life experience Same test can be retaken with hints to correct answers Sample diplomas, transcripts and verification letters available for view on website No information about location of school or ownership No contact information except for toll free number or address No list of faculty or academic officers Claim to be accredited but the agency is itself a fake Do not provide verifiable lists of faculty and their qualifications 5

6 WHY DIPLOMA MILLS ARE SUCCESSFUL 6

7 Inadequate information and regulation State DOEs do not typically accredit, regulate, approve, or license private high schools State DOEs do not officially recognize any of the various agencies that accredit private schools State law may requires K-12 private schools to register The directory of private schools should not be used to imply approval or accreditation by the state Acceptance of diplomas from private schools will be subject to the requirements of the receiving educational institution or employer 7

8 Diploma mills are mostly online and so are their customers 8

9 The sales pitch hits all the right notes 9

10 The veneer of authenticity 10

11 It just has to be legitimate 11

12 Webs of deceit 12

13 13

14 14

15 Oreo C. Collins is a tuxedo cat who gained notoriety when she received a diploma from Jefferson High School Online in 2009 The sting was an investigation by the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia headed by Kelvin Collins, Oreo's owner. 15

16 It s Quick and Easy Take the Online Test, Pass it and Have This Diploma in Your Hands Quickly for Only $ With our Summer Special - Lowest Price Ever! Jefferson High School is registered with the Dept. of Education and our school code is

17 It s Almost Like The Real Thing To receive a Traditional high school diploma requires satisfactory classroom completion of five subject areas, and a total of 21 credits. Our program models this approach via your online test completion scores and your personal electives assessment. You will provide the details and assume the ownership of those choices, it is all about documenting your accomplishment and it does not require formal classroom time. These electives are none credit electives. 17

18 Accreditation optional In an effort to keep program cost down and the current platform HSE based format, JHS has not yet sought nor been approved by the US DOE, CHEA or DETC organizations and does not represent itself to be an accredited program of any of these organizations. However JHS is actively pursuing accreditation options, in the meantime JHS incorporates an internal review and self-auditing approach to assure consistent standards

19 The Fine Print You fully understand that the program does not convey the means nor is intended to be used to fulfill any local, state or federal government requirements for attending high school or other educational requirement nor is it equivalent to a high school education. Furthermore, you fully understand that the completion documents are not issued based on an accredited high school course or a replacement for a traditional high school diploma and is not equivalent to a high school education or diploma. You understand that the program offered will not give you the right to represent yourself as a graduate of a traditional high school, an accredited high school program or the holder of an accredited degree and you are participating in the program for the sole purpose of self improvement. 19

20 Impossible to fail 20

21 A valid credit card is all that is required 21

22 Additional cost for add-ons 22

23 A fake transcript 23

24 Fake diploma and verification letter 24

25 WHAT GED TESTING SERVICE IS DOING TO HELP PREVENT FRAUD 25

26 Educate, educate, educate Raising public awareness about diploma mills and encouraging consumers to take action Disseminating accurate information on GED testing requirements 26

27 Monitoring and tracking fraud Tracking incidents of fraud to identify repeat offenders Reporting to law enforcement agencies Enlisting help from various consumer protection organizations 27

28 Legal Action Filed federal lawsuit in 2012 against one of the largest diploma mill syndicates on the web Obtained permanent injunction and $6 million verdict 28

29 Combating fraud where it starts online Filing complaints with search engines, hosting companies and credit card companies 29

30 30

31 31

32 We are nearing our goal 32

33 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP 33

34 How You Can Help Prevent Fraud Encourage Attorney s General Office to issue consumer fraud warnings Make warnings available to public at sites like library, career center, social services center, workforce, etc. Notify jurisdictional officials of the threat of dubious online credentialing programs DOE, DSS, agencies for adult learning and employment Remind agencies of the importance of accepting only state-issued transcripts 34

35 How You Can Help Prevent Fraud Create a local hotline and web page for consumers to submit complaints offer resources to consumers such as DOE, consumer protection agencies, BBB and law enforcement agencies Provide clear what to do information how to file a complaint with law enforcement agencies, the state attorney general office and the Better Business Bureau 35

36 How You Can Help Prevent Fraud Work with your jurisdictional department of education and local BBB chapters to create a list of resources Credible accreditation bodies and private online schools Past and present fraudulent programs 36

37 How You Can Help Prevent Fraud Ensure that accurate information on your GED testing program is available for consumers See Promote consistent use of the authorized GED branding to help consumers recognize legitimate GED testing programs in your jurisdiction Contact GED Testing Service Marketing Communications Team 37

38 Resources Federal Federal Trade Commission Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): U.S. Postal Inspection Service The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) U.S. Dept. of Education: International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN): OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology regarding Internet fraud, computer security, and personal information 38

39 Resources State Attorney Generals Office: Dept. of Commerce / Consumer Fraud Division Non-governmental Agencies and Organizations Better Business Bureau LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com a collaborative effort to educate consumers about Internet fraud Fraud.org a project of the National Consumers League GedEducated.org Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA): 39

40 How to find out about an online high school Contact the online school directly and ask detailed questions about courses, guarantees, and accreditation Make sure that information provided can be verified Check registration with the Dept. of Ed. Verify accreditation Visit the Better Business Bureau website Check with the State Attorney General s Office for complaints or legal action against the online school Contact admissions offices, personnel offices, or military recruiters to verify the acceptability of a diploma from a particular online school 40

41 QUESTIONS 41

42 Contact Paul Mussell 42

43 THANK YOU! 43

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