Online education is blooming. The ease and convenience of studying at home, flexibility of your schedule, no need to commute – that is all good. Sometimes even too good. And if it sounds TOO good, it probably is. With all the great features internet has brought us, it has also become an unparalleled source for scam and fraud. People are increasingly fooled, robed and victimized in every possible area of on-line arrangements. Distant learning programs are not exceptions. You need to be very cautious, especially when a program is offering degrees with minimal course work or credits. The more attractive the program is, the more likely it can be a scam. There are still ways to identify if an Internet learning program is scam or fake.

- Don’t believe everything you read, whether it is an online offer, infomercial or newspaper ad - remember that they are trying to sell you on their educational institution. Fraudulent businesses don’t save on advertising budgets so don’t get overly impressed by lavish web sites and colorful brochures. Enjoy the picturesque ad, and then verify every bit of information.
- Verify that the program is accredited, the accreditation is current and the school is in good standing. Also check that the accrediting company is legitimate. Check that the particular course that you are interested in is also accredited. That sounds bothersome, but if you don’t do it, your prospective degree may be worthless to another college or university or your potential employer.
- Find a physical address and phone number for online distance learning program. PO Box is not acceptable. Verify the address, call and talk to a school representative.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other consumer affairs agencies to check the company’s standing.
- And by all means, be especially wary of unrealistic claims. An ‘accelerated’ program and extremely low prices should raise a red flag.

Another common problem with on-line learning is grading homework and tests. Some students are required to re-test since their grades are too high and they are suspected of cheating. That is totally unfair to hard-working or highly intelligent students. From the other side, it is really hard to distinguish between a genius and a cheater in online learning. While you are completing your test over Internet, it is very tempting to also look for answers, using the same search engine. The possibility of cheating is unlimited. You can’t blame your on-line instructor for being suspicious. Usually, they don’t have reliable ways to rule out the dishonest testing. Most schools just compare statistics of in-school tests to on-line test, and if the second shows too much of a genius, they should assume that the work was done with the invaluable Internet help, or by your uncle, who holds a PHD in the subject.
Web-based professors are now taking actions to ensure their online students don’t get away with cheating and already developed several methods to keep students honest.

One example is to conduct live online tests that are timed. Some tests even have each individual question timed, so that the student cannot "surf the net" hunting for the answer.

They also started to utilize advanced technology, using live chat and webcams for on-line exams. A professor can unexpectedly ‘pop-up’ on a student’s screen during the test, checking that the student is actually there, and administer a mini quiz to verify his true knowledge. This powerful method should stop the cheaters, make lazy pupils study, and free the smart ones from unfair accusations.