I once signed up for some local classes at a singing school. I was invited in, treated very kindly and even enjoyed the first couple group classes. However, it was soon becoming apparent that I was going to be learning to sing songs that I wasn’t interested in, pay for additional services and maybe not even get the jobs they were promising afterwards. Getting scammed is the last thing you want to have happen when selecting an online college, but it can happen, so here’s how to avoid getting scammed when making your selection.

Look for trustworthy affiliations the school sports on its homepage. Is it a member of the better business bureau? Does it offer money back guarantees? While it’s not a sure indication, does the URL have a .edu in it? Since these URLs are reserved for schools it’d be wise to check for this little detail. Some schools may not have been as rigorously evaluated if they’re a .com or even .org.

Look into the school’s accreditation. The school should say somewhere on the site that they have been reviewed by the appropriate education boards. If you’re uncertain where to find it, you can simply do a Google search by typing in “site:school name.edu accredidation” for a list of pages on the school in questions’ site that talk about accreditation. If you don’t find any, you may want to be wary.

One of the best ways to assure you don’t get scammed is by picking up the phone and talking with a school counselor. Even online colleges should have such counselors to help their students and prospective students make the appropriate educational decisions. If this service is available take advantage of it. If the school’s website doesn’t even include a phone number then you should probably steer clear. This is an indication they don’t want to talk with you and potentially because they have something to hide or few resources, both of which are no good from a school that you’re looking to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to.

Read the fine print. It’s often in the words no one wants to read that some clause is tucked away that allows the creator to bill you in addition to the initial payment, forgo issuing refunds or to give you less than you thought you were getting.

Look for reviews of the school you are looking into. If they’re a good school, someone will have said something good about them and chances are, especially if it’s an online college, that those thoughts and praises will be located online. Simply Google “school name review” and you should see what people think. If there either no reviews or a bunch of results with the word SCAM or FRAUD in the title, you may be best served by walking away and considering other options.

Scam artist exist everywhere, so be careful that you don’t fall into the snares of one doing his business online as an online college or university. You can protect yourself and it doesn’t have to be that hard. Typically by just doing the above steps you can avoid getting scammed or suckered into an unequal relationship with your educator.

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