How To Avoid Online Guard Card Training Scams
Online Guard Card classes make it easy for you to get your BSIS-required training…
But you have to be careful.
There are a lot of shady online services out there. They may offer courses that aren’t BSIS-certified. They may not protect your financial information when you checkout. Or they may not provide the level of customer support you need from an online service.
To help you find the best online Guard Card classes and avoid the scams, we’ve put together a list of six questions you should consider as you shop around:
1) Is there a State license number?
Facilities must have a State license number (TFF, TFB, etc.) before they can offer State-certified Guard Card classes. If you can’t find a license number on a company’s website, contact them and ask for it.
Once you have the number, you can check to see if it’s valid with a license search on the BSIS website. (We’ve made it easy for you to check on Valley Guard Training and Valley Guard Online. Just click the seal at the top of any page.) The License Status field should say “CLEAR” which means the license is current and valid.
If there is no license number or a license search doesn’t show CLEAR, the classes are not legitimate.
Some facilities, like Valley Guard, have both TFF (Training Facility Firearm) and TFB (Training Facility Baton) licenses. It’s not required, but having a TFF license and a TFB license means there’s a greater chance the company is serious about their guard training.
2) Is there a physical business associated with the training?
Not all online-only training centers are scams. Still, it’s nice to know you can get in touch with a real person if you run into problems or need technical support.
Check the website for an address and phone number. You might even want to give them a call during business hours just to be on the safe side. If a facility has a P.O. Box instead of a street address or the contact page is email-only, dig deeper to make sure the business is legitimate. At the very least, send them an email and see if you get a response.
3) Are course completion certificates available online?
One of the many benefits you get with online Guard Card classes is convenience. So why should you have to wait for a facility to physically mail you your course completion certificates? And what happens if you lose a certificate? Will you be able to get in touch with someone to send you a replacement?
The best system is one that lets you download your certificates as soon as you finish a class. Your information should also be saved in your online account so you can log in any time and print out another certificate if you need it.
4) Are online accounts saved permanently?
Be wary of any website that only offers online access for a set number of days. You may run into trouble if you lose your certificates and have to verify that you actually took Guard Card classes. Contact any facility with time-limited accounts and find out what kind of records they keep after they delete your information.
5) Are the checkout pages secure?
Webpages that ask for your credit card information should be protected by an SSL certificate. Always check the address bar of your browser for a little padlock. This lets you know that the information you enter will be submitted over a secure, encrypted connection.
Even better is the “green bar”. If you’ve ever been to a bank’s website, you may have noticed that the lock icon or even the entire address bar turns green. That means the site has an extended validation or EV SSL certificate. While a basic SSL certificate is cheap and can be issued in a few hours, an EV SSL certificate can take weeks to be issued and can be extremely expensive. The only way to get one is to have a third-party do a background check on the business to prove that it’s legitimate.
Any company that sells security guard training should, at the very least, be able to secure your personal information. Always look for the padlock on checkout pages. A green lock or bar is even better.
6) Are there secure site seals and are they valid?
Facilities that honestly care about Guard Card training and your personal security go the extra mile to prove it to you. One way they do this is with website audits. They pay for companies like Norton, McAfee, GeoTrust and others to check their websites for valid coding, virus and malware protection, and intrusion prevention. Sites that pass all the tests get issued secure site seals, which usually show up on checkout pages.
Unfortunately, shady websites try to fake these seals and those for authorities like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in order to look legitimate.
So how can you tell the difference between a real seal and a fake?
Simply hover over it or click it. Almost all real seals will have a popup window or link to a page that shows more information along with a current date. If there’s no popup and no date, be suspicious. You might want to contact the company and ask if there’s something wrong with their website.
It only takes a minute or two to avoid a Guard Card scam
Luckily, you don’t have to try too hard to avoid online Guard Card scams. You can answer most of these questions in the time it takes to click a website’s “Contact” link and add something to the shopping cart.
Of these six questions, the first one is by far the most important. You don’t want to waste time and money on Guard Card classes that aren’t BSIS-certified. But even if a facility’s courses are certified, you need to know that you’re training will go smoothly.
If a company doesn’t make it easy for you to contact them, what kind of service can you expect after you sign up? If they don’t follow basic online security procedures to protect your personal information, how trustworthy can they be? What might that say about the quality of the security training you’ll get?
We know a lot of people would like to take their Guard Card classes online but may be afraid of the issues we brought up here. That’s why we created Valley Guard Online. You can get the same great training, service, and support we offer in-person right from your desktop, laptop, or smartphone. And rest assured that we’ve gone the extra mile to give you the safest, most secure online experience possible.
For more information, visit Valley Guard Online.