Looking to get a high school diploma? Watch out for scams.

There are plenty of good reasons to get your high school diploma as an adult. It can open doors to a new job or promotion, or help you get into college or the military. But before you start looking into your options, make sure you know how to spot a diploma scam.

The FTC has filed charges against two fake high school diploma operations: Capitol Network Distance Learning Programs (CNDLP) and Stepping Stonez Development.

Doing business as Lincoln High School, Aberdeen Academy, Escuela Capital, and many other names, the companies promised fast diplomas equivalent to the well-known GED®. All you needed to do was take a test and pay anywhere from $135 to $249. People in testimonials claimed they kept their jobs or got new dream jobs with the diplomas they received.

There were no classes, no study materials, and no homework — just one multiple-choice test on the site. And if you didn’t pass? Just try again, this time with the correct answers highlighted. According to the FTC, it was all a scam.

The companies claimed a wide range of organizations accepted the diplomas, but when people tried using them to enroll in college, apply for jobs, get a promotion, or enlist in the military, they found out they were worthless.

Here’s how you can spot a high school diploma scam:

They want you to pay for a diploma. It’s ok to pay for classes or testing — but you shouldn’t pay for just a diploma.

You can get the diploma from home, ASAP. If you can earn the diploma without taking any classes or in-person tests, it’s a scam.

They claim to be affiliated with the federal government. The federal government doesn’t regulate high school equivalency diploma programs. Each state decides what high school equivalency tests and programs are approved there.

Want the real story in getting a high school equivalency diploma? Read High School Diploma Scams.

This post was updated to indicate the FTC has asked a court to stop the defendants’ allegedly illegal actions.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.