"I have heard from people who have been taken in from these scammers," said Jon Collins, executive director of adult education for Chattahoochee Technical College, in an email. "They are paying lots of money for something that costs $95 to take from us right now."
Chattahoochee Technical College's North Metro campus is the closest GED preparation and testing site for Bartow County residents.
"With the filing of this lawsuit, GED Testing Service has taken action to help protect adults who wish to improve their lives by earning a high school equivalency credential," said Randy Trask, president of GED Testing Service, in the press release. "In these tough economic times, competition for jobs is intense and a high school credential is typically the minimum educational requirement for employment. It is reprehensible that fraudulent websites are taking advantage of those who are seeking a credential that will help them be better positioned to find jobs and support their families."
According to the release, the lawsuit is not the first or only step the testing service has taken to protect consumers from these scams. Over the last few years, GED Testing Service has issued alerts, provided information to the attorney general in various states about fraudulent "test" providers, and shared information nationwide.
"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," added Trask.
On Feb. 14, in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit was filed jointly by GED Testing Service and the American Council on Education, which originated the GED® test in 1942. According to the release, "The complaint alleges that a network of websites in connection with Senford High School and Sunshine High School are engaging in deceptive and misleading business practices to defraud consumers under state and federal law."
Collins said, "This issue pops up every year or so with companies offering access to what they claim is the GED online. The difference is that now the GED Testing Service is getting 'sharks' teeth' about the issue and suing the companies that are falsely making this claim."
The service says it seeks to shut down the network of allegedly fraudulent websites and order these businesses to cease their illegal practices, saying these programs advertise widely on popular search engines and falsely promise a quick way to obtain an "alternative" high school credential, misusing the GED® trademark.
"The GED® test must be taken in-person at an official GED® testing center," the release says. "Those individuals successfully passing the complete battery are issued a credential directly by the state. If the credential is not issued by the state, it is not associated with the GED testing program and unlikely to provide any benefit to those seeking better jobs or admission to college."
The Technical College System of Georgia reports the CTC North Metro pass rate for the GED test is at 78 percent.