Oracle trying to quell certification exam voucher fraud

Those who use fake vouchers can face a lifetime ban on certification exams

Oracle is cracking down on the use of counterfeit vouchers for its certification examinations, a move that could have significant implications for the unwitting as well as willful violators.

"Did you know that purchasing vouchers from a non-authorized outlet is fraud? We recently revoked several exam scores as we tracked down counterfeit vouchers that had been used to purchase exams," the company said in an official blog post this week.

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"Use caution -- you may not even be a willing or knowing party to the fraud," the post adds. "Test takers are often surprised to discover that their vouchers are not valid."

Last year, Oracle said it had seen an increase in the number of counterfeit exam vouchers being sold online. Only Oracle University and resellers it authorizes can sell such vouchers, according to the vendor.

Violators of Oracle's policy could face a stiff penalty.

"Individuals who acquire and use counterfeit certification vouchers and/or certification vouchers obtained from an unauthorized source may be subject to program sanctions at the discretion of Oracle, including a lifetime ban on taking all future exams and the nullification of all previous exam results and certifications," the vendor's official rules on certification state.

While Oracle didn't name any specific sources of fraudulent vouchers, a Web search turned up a number of sites and forums with people offering vouchers of possibly dubious origin at steep discounts. The vouchers are for certification exams for Oracle as well as for Microsoft and other vendors.

Those with concerns about the validity of their certification vouchers can call Oracle University, the vendor's training arm, for confirmation. They can also check to see whether the website where they purchased the voucher has an official Oracle Reseller logo.

There are some limited exceptions, such as when an employee receives a voucher from their employer, which has bought it legitimately, according to Oracle.

While the overall value of certifications to an IT professional's career has long been the subject of debate, to Oracle and other vendors, they represent a lucrative income stream that stands to be diluted by a rise in fraud.

In 2010, Oracle imposed some fee hikes on certification exams, sparking dismay from users.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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