The State of Idaho has approved a bill that would make it easier for the Idaho Board of Education to identify fraudulent education providers, otherwise known as “Diploma Mills”. The bill would allow the Board of Education to issue cease-and-desist orders against companies violating the legislation.
One such unauthorized institution, the State University of Sheffield, offers a degree in what they call “life experience” (i.e. a degree based purely on one’s life experience). This University claims to be accredited by the World Higher Education Accreditation Society (WHEAS). However, the website for the State University of Sheffield doesn’t offer any contact information. Even more troubling: the website for the State University of Sheffield and the website for the accrediting entity WHEAS are both hosted at the same IP address.
On February 22, 2010, Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri signed a bill into law 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”.
While regulations making it harder for diploma mills to continue to operate should be welcomed, the challenge of dealing with fraudulent degrees sold by diploma mills remains a complex one. The unscrupulous characters that operate websites selling fraudulent degree have become more adept at covering their tracks. Frequently, there is no physical address for the “university” and their website content and address can change in an instant. We strongly recommend clients perform verification on all degrees and certifications claimed by applicants and employees to avoid embarrassment and potential legal exposure.
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