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FTC Issues Warning About High School Diploma Scams

FTC Issues Warning About High School Diploma Scams - The Beacon


By: Jackie

FTC Issues Warning About High School Diploma Scams

Many adults who didn’t graduate from high school for one reason or another are realizing the value of having a high school diploma and are looking for ways to get theirs. Your BBB® wishes to pass on information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about high school diploma scams.

According to the FTC, scammers are creating fake diploma websites to trick consumers into paying for their diplomas which end up being worthless. The FTC lists the following signs of a high school diploma scam:

*promising you that you can get your diploma quickly from home with no classes and no in-person test.

*charging you for a diploma when the classes and testing are free; you shouldn’t have to pay for the diploma itself.

*claiming that you can earn your diploma with just life experiences.

*claiming to be affiliated with the federal government. There are legitimate tests or programs approved by your state; the federal government doesn’t offer programs for earning high school diplomas.

One way consumers who didn’t graduate from high school can obtain a high school equivalency diploma is by taking a test. These are the only legitimate high school equivalency tests according to the FTC:

*GED – is the most well-known test and is accepted by most states.

*HISET – is accepted by some states and is the only test accepted by Iowa and Massachusetts.

*TASC – is accepted by some , but not most, states.

*CHSPE – is the test administered in the State of California.

These tests are administered in person, proctored, closed-book, scheduled for specific dates and times, and require an authentication process to make sure the test taker is the person who signed up for the test. The tests cost from $50 – $100.

Another way consumers can get their high school diploma in some states is to take classes and earn credits. These classes are offered by community colleges, extension programs connected to a local college or university, or adult education programs run by local high schools, school boards, nonprofits, state departments of education, or state workforce programs.

According to the FTC, most states will accept some credits from online classes, but only a few. If an online course is legitimate, it will require you to do real class work and not just take a test. If there is not substantial reading, writing, quizzes, and tests required by an online class, and if they promise that you can finish in a day’s time, it’s not the real thing. Check with your state’s department of education to see if an online school or course is accredited; don’t take the program’s word for it. Scammers can make up accreditation, even creating fake academic and accreditation organizations to dupe consumers.

Your state department of education can help you find a legitimate high school equivalency program. Contact the test manufacturer to get specific information about the tests: GED, HISET, TASC, CHSPE.

For more information you can trust, visit


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Jackie is the Operations and Education Foundation Assistant with the BBB. She assists consumers with business inquiries, and does presentations to senior groups and high school students. She is a regular contributor to the blog.