Safety training too good to be true

BBB warns consumers about fake certifications

The Better Business Bureau of Southwest Louisiana is warning consumers about a Baytown, Texas, company it said has been offering fake industry safety certifications.

About 200 consumers locally have been affected, according to the BBB.

Although the company, iThink Safety & Technical Academy, said it offered training for certification from the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), both agencies told the BBB they had never heard of the academy.

In the last week, several consumers called the BBB to report they had each paid $1,400, took a class for more than four weeks, and were supposed to be given paperwork with certifications for NCCER and OSHA.

Consumers reported that after they completed the course they were harassed via text messages from the academy stating the only way they would get paperwork was if they paid remaining balances in full. They also reported their certifications were held as well as some of their resumes.

Ashley Durel, director of operations at the BBB, said she began investigating the company after she got calls from consumers who reported initially hearing about the business through its Facebook posts.

“After locating the Facebook page, we noticed that the company, iThink, not only promised certifications from the safety agencies, they also promised job placement at the end of the course,” Durel said.

She said the company told consumers their resumes and information would be given directly to the top hiring managers at local industries.

“It’s upsetting because here we are in the heart of thriving industry and someone is trying to take advantage of our residents,” Durel said.

Contacted by the BBB, representatives of NCCER and OSHA told Durel they had no affiliation with iThink and had never heard of the company.

NCCER is a non-profit education foundation in business since 1996. It was created to help standardize training and credentials in the industry. OSHA is a part of the United States Department of Labor and was created to ensure safe working conditions.

Durel said she contacted about 20 different types of safety companies and none of them had heard of iThink.

She said consumers who are interested in finding out whether a company is legitimately offering safety certifications can contact the Safety Council of SWLA, which provides safety education and training in this area. She said people can also contact NCCER for information on training courses by calling 386-518-6500.

Durel said the BBB has been in contact with the Attorney General’s Office and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office regarding iThink.

“Consumers should always be leery if something sounds too good to be true because things may not always be what they appear to be,” Durel said.


 

For more information, call the BBB at 478-6253.

‘It’s upsetting because here we are in the heart of thriving industry and someone is trying to take advantage of our residents.’

Ashley Durel

Director of operations at the Better Business Bureau

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