How to: Spot Fake CPR Certification & Cards

We live in a day and age when fake CPR certification cards are a thing. For some people they don’t care about having a certification because they just want to learn a new skillset. However, for other people needing certification for their employment or medical license it matters. Our ethics should also lead us to supporting business practices offering a product with integrity as well. Let’s make sure you get what you need when you take a CPR class and make sure you get what you pay for!

Why would people give out ‘fake’ certifications?

There’s a few reasons. The most common reason is because there is a cost associated with certifications accredited by the American Heart Association. The AHA charges instructors a fee for each card issued.

Examples of not AHA certifications
Examples of not AHA certifications

Instructors may create their own card to save money, but they are not recognized and are in violation of AHA guidelines if they are using AHA materials. Some instructors do this innocently, thinking they can type up a pretty certificate for students and don’t realize how unethical it is. In the past when certifications were on card stock, some people would illegally photocopy these. They look just as fake as a photo copy of a dollar bill, but many people were fooled.

Another reason people give out certifications that aren’t recognized is because it’s an easy way to make money online. Usually, these certifications are ‘online only’ classes and cost very little money. They will make promises that they will give you your money back if your employer doesn’t take your certification but in reality, it’s a hassle to meet their requirements for a refund and not worth getting the nominal amount back.

Example of a training ‘certificate’ that does not bear any legitimate credentialing.

How To Spot Fake CPR Certification & Cards

When most people look at CPR certification cards they look for the words ‘American Heart Association.’ A tell tale sign of fake cards is that they will say ‘meets AHA standards’ or ‘taught in accordance with AHA guidelines’ but they are not actually AHA classes. Other buzzphrases are phrases like “AHA Certified,” “AHA Approved,”  or “AHA Compliant.” Any websites offering certifications with this verbiage are usually fake website with fake certifications.

Any printed AHA card that was not printed originally from an eCard is also a fake. As of 2018, all AHA certifications cards are issued in the form of eCards. (There is an exception for non-english speaking AHA Heartsaver courses only) If you received a printed card or a laminated card in the mail from your CPR course then you can be certain it was not a legitimate AHA course.

Furthermore, the AHA does not offer ‘instant’ certification. All American Heart Association Courses require a hands on skills portion and will not give out certification without face-to-face instruction with CPR manikins.

Lastly, it rings true that you get what you pay for. While some instructors may offer their services at a cost to themselves- it’s almost impossible to take an American Heart Association CPR or BLS for less than $50. You can almost guarantee any certification being offered for less than this is not being ethically done.

How Does The AHA Prevent Fake CPR Certification & Cards?

The American Heart Association can not regulate all CPR training in the world. Anyone can pop up online and offer CPR courses and give out non AHA certifications. These certifications won’t be recognized by employers and students will end up finding a legitimate AHA class hopefully.

However, for instructors that teach American Heart Association classes and use AHA curriculum- legitimate AHA eCards must be issued. The AHA has taken many instructors to court and slapped suits on people in copyright violation of using the curriculum without processing adequate certification for the students taught.

How to Verify a CPR Certification?

Legitimate AHA Certification
Legitimate AHA Certification with QR code. This card was claimed on the AHA website and then printed.

In 2018, when the American Heart Association switched to eCards only they added a verifiable QR code to every certification. The individual code can be verified to prove legitimate certification on the American Heart Association website. This gives both the student and the employer peace of mind. However, as we have said, you will need to look at cards carefully. Many fake certifications are imitating the AHA’s QR code but when you use the QR code you will see it does not go the AHA website. Only QR codes that go to are legitimate.

If you are certified and are not sure where to find your certification read ‘Am I CPR Certified? 5 Easy Ways to Check Your Training Status’ 

Consequences of fake CPR certification

Hopefully you didn’t get here because you googled ‘how to make a fake cpr certification’ but we know some of you probably did. Life gets busy and it’s easy to forget that your CPR certification is expiring. In fact, you may need it right now so you can go to work today. Your best option is to let your employer know your certification has lapsed and get in an AHA class as soon as possible. In most places you can find one within a day or two. You may need to consider traveling to a larger city if there aren’t any available in your town.

Under no circumstances should you fake a CPR certificate or find a printable CPR certificate online. The consequences of this can be more than disastrous. There are handfuls of stories of people who have done this and then are found liable in the event of a patients death. You can lose your medical license and be banned from some industries for this. Missing a day or two of work or income is much better than losing your career and possibly experiencing jail time.

Now, let’s say you needed to take an AHA certification course and you accidentally took one of these knock off classes. It’s possible your employer may unknowingly accept it. However, most states have laws that make it the individuals responsibility to certify they met requirements to maintain their medical license. If your CPR certification is found to be illegitimate, you will be the one held responsible not just your employer.

Where to obtain an official CPR certifications and card?

When attending an American Heart Association CPR or BLS course the instructor will make sure you are on a roster with your email address listed. Following successful completion of your class the instructor will email you an eCard. These must be sent within 18 days of the course, but are usually sent much sooner.

If you are looking to find a CPR course near you, you can search the Class Eagle Health and Safety Directory to find an instructor near you.

What benefits are there of obtaining a verified CPR certification?

Many workplaces or jobs require CPR certification. If you want to take a class but don’t need to have a certification, you should still look to take an accredited American Heart Association Course. We see many people come in to take a CPR class a month or two after taking a non accredited course because now they are in a position where they need the legitimate certification.

Where to Report a Fake CPR Certification & Cards

If you take a course with an AHA Instructor that gives out a fake certification card, you can report this to the American Heart Association.

If you suspect fraudulent CPR, BLS, ACLS, or PALS certifications related to the American Heart Association please contact the AHA at 1-800-242-8721 or email [email protected].

The American Heart Association has published a Fraud Warning on their website.

Where can I find legitimate training?

All of our courses at Vitali are taught to the highest standard and with full credentialing as an authorized American Heart Association Training Center. We are very proud to have this title and hold the highest ethical standards to maintain this. We teach CPR, BLS, ACLS, and PALS in cities throughout Tennessee and North Carolina. You can view our course calendar on our website for public courses. If you have a group that would like American Heart Association certification you can fill out the form here for a free quote.

If you are not in our training area, you can get matched with an American Heart Association instructor through the Class Eagle Health and Safety Instructor Directory. Class Eagle lists instructors all across the world that teach AHA courses and more. We hope that you will find training that is legitimate, makes you confident in your skills, and ready to respond in an emergency.

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