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Scam Alert: Useless Degree

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 also 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

Contact Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer at or 578-2331.