Scam Alert: The degree is in the mail

02/22/2009 3:03 AM

02/22/2009 3:07 AM

THE SCAM: College degree by mail

HOW IT WORKS: Despite what this e-mail scam suggests, getting a legitimate degree can't be done with money alone. The most common "degree-at-home" e-mails mention prestigious-sounding universities. The e-mails seek money for degrees based on "life experiences," rather than completion of courses. Because these schools aren't accredited, their degrees are worthless for demonstrating job qualifications.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Your money. Passing off such degrees as the real thing can draw the ire of prospective employers.

HOW TO BEAT IT: If a school charges for a degree, rather than for credits, courses or semesters, that's a red flag. If the only criterion for being admitted is having a credit card, that's another. If you're unsure, check out the school at the Council on Higher Education Accreditation's Web site at

For a look at past scams, go to

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