Latrobe Valley’s education scam woe

DOOR-to-door salespeople targeting Latrobe Valley residents with expensive online education courses could be selling the community a ‘scam’.

Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Department of Education and Training are aware of salespeople approaching the public with false diplomas at an inflated price.

A Department of Education and Training spokesperson said the State Government had “raised repeated concerns” with the Federal Government about the marketing practices of some providers.

The spokesperson warned potential students there was a recent “abuse” regarding national VET FEE-HELP loans, which could often be mistaken as free, but eventually racked up long-term debt.

“Signing up for these courses could leave you with a long-term debt that will take you years to repay,” the spokesperson said.

“If you are thinking about doing a training course, don’t sign up with the first person who knocks on your door – do some research and make an informed decision.”

Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund has been fielding recent queries about “inflated” courses offered by several education providers.

She said courses varied between counselling, nursing or business diplomas at a cost of at least $25,000 plus interest, and came with the incentive of a free computer.

The Education Department confirmed there was “no such thing” as a free training course with a “bonus iPad or laptop”.

Ms Lund referred the community onto Gippsland’s local TAFE and university campuses, which offered cheaper courses along with “beneficial” support services.

She urged the community to seek third-party advice if approached by a door-to-door salesperson.

“People need to exercise their rights, not sign paper work and not be pressured into it,” Ms Lund said.

“These door-knockers are good at what they do – they target certain people in the area.

“If people have signed something that they do feel is a scam, there are options to get out of the contract,” she said.

Victoria Legal Aid, Consumer Affairs Victoria and Morwell Neighbourhood House are all avenues of support for those who have been approached by a salesperson.

For more advice about your rights if you have signed a contract, call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.

You can also report the matter to the National Training Complaints hotline on 133 873.