Diploma Mills Legislation

The State of Idaho has approved a bill to make it easier for the Idaho Board of Education to identify fraudulent education providers, otherwise known as “diploma mills”. The bill helps the Idaho Board of Education issue cease-and-desist orders against companies violating the legislation.

A degree based purely on one’s life experience is offered by the State University of Sheffield, an unauthorized institution. Sheffield claims to be accredited by the World Higher Education Accreditation Society (WHEAS); however, the website for the State University of Sheffield does not provide contact information. What is even more troubling is that the website for the State University of Sheffield and the website for the accrediting entity WHEAS are both hosted at the same IP address.

Moreover, other states have made similar moves. Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri signed a bill into law on February 22, 2010 that will make it illegal to use false academic credentials to apply for employment, college, or in connection with any business or public office in Missouri. Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) has adopted the “Diploma and Accreditation Integrity Protection Act,” which proposes to protect “the integrity of bona fide qualifications by targeting the sale and use of fraudulent degrees.”

Regulation against diploma mills is welcomed while employers continue to deal with the challenge of fraudulent degrees. Unscrupulous websites selling fraudulent degrees have become more adept at covering their tracks. Consequently, there are no physical addresses for the “universities.” Their website content and website addresses are prone to changing instantly. We strongly recommend clients perform verification on all degrees and certifications that an applicant or employee claims to hold. This will help avoid embarrassment and potential legal exposure.

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