Clickbait is a technique used by editors, writers, bloggers and journalists to attract attention to their material by using an attractive headline that doesn’t represent the content accurately, or attempts to completely scam you.
Look past the headlines
Headlines such as “Learn to code in one week!” are flooding social media advertisements. These courses might be free or extremely cheap, but you can end up wasting time on a poor quality course whilst the content owner nonetheless profits from your site visits.
There’s a growing market for online courses and internships as many students and professionals looking for a career change or aiming to start a business are very eager to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Lack of awareness makes it easy for headlines to mislead you, you might sign up to learn things that are outdated, unpopular or completely basic.
You might think it is easy to detect online fraud, however, research done by the Take Five campaign showed that even though 80% of participants claimed to be able to differentiate between legitimate and fraudulent text messages, only 9% really could.
If it sounds too good to be true, it may be the case. When it comes to educational courses or internships that promise you a fast-track to success with minimum entry requirements, you might want to consult with someone.
Have you sought a second opinion?
You can get a good sample of opinions from the comment sections on the ads themselves, or choose a relevant forum such as Scam Detector. If there is no evidence of fraud, take an extra step and find a variety of reviews on whether the course would be beneficial for your employability in the current job market. It is vital to search for courses that have a large degree of modern practical tasks and self-assessment activities involved.
An example of a good online certification for aspiring IT professionals is CompTIA. A substantial number of those who finished CompTIA A+ land IT Help Desk positions upon completion and many find it a good first step in the field.
If you cannot find any relevant information, you might want to speak to an expert in the field of the course you are considering. LinkedIn is an easy resource to find people who are willing to give you expert advice. The developers created the Career Advice service to search for experts specifically for career and education purposes.
Ask “is it possible to achieve these results in the said period of time?”, “is the cost reasonable or is it suspiciously underpriced or overpriced?” Find out if other professionals have heard of the source and whether they can comment on its credibility. Spending a little more time fact-checking can benefit you enormously in the long term.
Is an online degree credible?
The online education scammers make it increasingly difficult for normal people to be able to see the catch. If you are lucky, the creators of said offers will make some mistakes – poor use of language, text that has been blatantly copied from a legitimate source, lack of identifying information about the source etc. But sometimes the fraud is much more covert and hard to detect.
If you want to put yourself ahead of other job applicants by completing an impressive online course, make sure to do your homework before you sign up.
Studyportals provides crucial details about how to check the legitimacy of online degrees.
1. Check the accreditation of the online degree
2. Be cautious of familiar yet modified university names
3. Beware of few to no admission criteria
4. Don’t give money upfront
5. Be skeptical of earning a degree way too easily
6. Check what resources online universities offer you
7. Verify university contact details
8. Befriend Google and check reviews from graduates
Internship scams – were you fooled?
How do I know if a training course or internship is fraudulent?
The Balance Careers website offers you insight into ways to assess whether an internship offer is looking to fool you. In order for it to be a scam it doesn’t necessarily need to have a price tag, even free internships might be attempting to exploit you by simply using your labour for a period of time while promising employment, and never contacting you again. Having said that, internships that ask you for any sort of payment are a big red flag and should always be refused.
Tricks used by developers
There are credible, trustworthy sources of education and experience online; however, many scammers copy and make slight changes to the content of credible domains to trick users. Techwalla explains how to recognize a fake URL. Make sure to check the domains of websites carefully, assessing the spelling in the URL, and URL abbreviations. There are tools online that detect domain scams, which are becoming more and more frequent. One of these tools is Fake Domain Detective.
Finally, do not underestimate Terms and Conditions. Even if the course you found is not a scam, beware of the hidden costs that are strategically placed in small letters somewhere where nobody would read them. There is a legitimate coding school that advertised itself as free, but here’s the catch: it is free only if you pass all the tests until the completion of the course, failure to do so implies a $1500-2500 payment. We all hate reading Terms & Conditions, however with consequences like this it is worth a little extra time on your behalf.
Created by ORT staff for the ORT Alumni Network. 01/02/2019