BBB Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT - When searching for an online program that will help you earn your degree on your own time, make sure you aren’t signing yourself up for a scam. Better Business Bureau is reminding those in search of the right education program that a fast degree isn’t always the best degree.Advertisements for online college diplomas often reel in viewers with alluring headlines such as, “Your diploma is just a click away!” or, “Earn the degree you’ve always wanted, fast!” These programs that sound too good to be true are, in fact, usually too good to be true. They’re called diploma mills - businesses that will give you a sheet of paper stating you earned a degree, instead of an actual education. Fast, easy, and 100% fake. Although you’ll have that diploma, it won’t mean anything. For example, if the program isn’t an accredited online school, it won’t be seen as a real degree. The “tuition” required to earn that diploma would be money down the drain. To make matters worse, it can be found illegal to use those diplomas as a valid form of a degree in many cases. “Students should determine whether or not their online school is accredited before they enroll,” said Paula Fleming, spokesperson for BBB Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT. “You want that verification from a legitimate, qualified, outside source that your college meets the required standards.”BBB offers tips on how to differentiate between an accredited online school and a diploma mill:Make sure it’s accredited. The school should be recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. Visit these websites and search for your school to find its Accreditation Information. If you can’t find your school on either of these websites, it may not be an accredited school. Aside from that, also keep an eye out for programs that ARE accredited, but NOT by the two above agencies. Anyone that can create a fake business can also create their own fake accreditation, and this happens quite often with scams. Don’t be fooled by your own temptation. Diploma mills will state that you can simply fill out a form, upload your resume, and enter your credit card information to receive your diploma. Although those seemingly “quick and easy” programs are the ones you’ll want to gravitate towards, those catchy slogans should serve as a red flag.Beware of a program that requires a lot of money up front. Most colleges will bill you based on the amount of credits or courses you are taking each semester. A diploma mill will probably ask for a flat fee to sign up. Look for evidence of student services. Colleges will always have student resources. These include a page for the library, a list of classes, a staff directory, advising, and more. If there aren’t any resources for students to show there’s substantial course work and interaction with professors, then you should be suspicious. For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org.