In today’s tight job market, education is increasingly important for applicants. The minimum requirement for most jobs, in fact, is a GED, or general equivalency diploma. And scammers on the Internet are waiting to take advantage of the desperate and the uninformed.
For some employers, it doesn’t matter how many years of work experience you have, according to Bruce Martin, GED instructor at the Beaumont Independent School District GED center at the Texas Workforce Commission in Orange.
“I’ve had people come in here that have had the same job for 30 years … got laid off and could not get the same exact job because of the requirement that they need a high school diploma or GED,” Martin said.
The frustration of needing educational credentials pushes some applicants to try and find a quick and easy solution by going online to earn their GED. But according to Mary Ann Sparkman at the Texas Education Agency (TEA), you cannot receive your GED through these online services.“It’s a scam,” Sparkman said. “Anything online is bogus. There is no way to regulate the test if you do it online. You can do it online, but you have to go to a GED testing facility.” TEA recommends using GED Testing Service to earn a GED.
According to the GED Testing Service’s Web site, they are “the only nationally recognized program that awards a high school equivalency credential.”
The Better Business Bureau warned potential students seeking GEDs online in a video released back in November 2010, but it continues to be a problem two years later, according to Armando Diaz, public affairs specialist at GED Testing Service.
Diaz said Web sites such as Diploma-ged.com and Accreditedhighschool.us coax people into paying for fake GEDs or high school diplomas. Diaz said this scam is affecting thousands every day. These Web sites even went as far as to use GED Testing Service’s logo to make their sites look credible, Diaz added.
“We filed a federal lawsuit against 13 Web sites that were using our logo illegally to make their Web sites look real,” Diaz said. “We are in the process of shutting those Web sites down.”
In a press release sent out earlier this year by GED Testing Service, Randy Task, president of the organization, said they are working vigilantly to protect those wishing to earn their GED.
“In these tough economic times, competition for jobs is intense and a high school credential is typically the minimum educational requirement for employment,” Task said. “It is reprehensible that fraudulent Web sites are taking advantage of those who are seeking a credential that will help them be better positioned to find jobs and support their families. Along with our efforts to educate those at risk of being scammed and with this lawsuit, we are asking the federal court to take action to protect well-intentioned adults.”
Denise Richardson, a Wisconsin mother of three children, told NBC News she went online and spent $500, took several practice tests and a seven-hour online exam, and was told that she had passed. However, when she applied at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wis., she was told her documents were fake.
BISD GED instructor Bruce Martin said that people in Southeast Texas have been scammed as well.
“I’ve had people come in and tell me, ‘I’ve got a GED and I got it online,’ and I had to call Austin and let Austin tell them that it was not legit,” Martin said. “(Getting a GED) online is not accredited through the state of Texas.”
The accredited GED test can be taken on the computer, but only at an approved, supervised testing site.
Robert Nixon, BISD GED instructor at the Texas Workforce Solutions Beaumont location, said the correct process for earning a GED begins by taking a placement test called the TABE (Test for Adult Basic Education) at any of the three Texas Workforce Center sites in Beaumont, Port Arthur or Orange.
“There’s no pass or fail,” Nixon said. “It is just telling us where to start working. The person would be able to start class the next day.”Nixon and Martin work with students on an individual basis and provide one-on-one instruction at no cost.
Martin said the longevity of the training varies based on the individual because some people learn quicker than others.
“There are five subjects we work on — reading, writing, science, social studies and math, Nixon said.”
“(Students) are tested on those five areas,” he said. “The state provides everything needed for the classes. But once the student is ready and has passed our (preparation) tests, the actual GED test costs $120.”
The GED test can be taken at one of the official testing sites at the Aim Center High School, 500 Stadium St., Vidor, (409) 951-8780, or at Ogden Education Center, 2300 Victoria, Beaumont, (409) 617-5012.