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A professional in my kind of business advertises that she has a Ph. D. How do I force her to reveal where it is from?

Anaheim, CA |

This person advertises and states that she has a Ph. D. On her website she does not reveal where she got it from, and I think it is a diploma mill. She refuses to answer my question about the origin of the Ph D. How do I force her to tell me where she got it from?

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Attorney answers 3


You don't.

If she is a California-licensed professional, you can make a query and report to the State licensing agency if you have tangible reasons for sound suspicions that she is affirmatively misrepresenting her professional credentials.

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You should not do this directly, as she will just tell you to take a long walk on a short pier. Instead you enlist the aid of an investigator or you do the investigation yourself. If there is a legitimate reason to know then a lawyer can find this out for you, but that would cost a lot more, I think, than the economic value to you of knowing this. A suit could force discovery that would reveal the actual source of the degree so you could verify. For example, an unfair competition suit (an IP related suit) might allege she is using a false designation. Then in discovery you can compel her to reveal the information. I can't imaging the cost would be worth all that to you.

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Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall


I am puzzled by the strategy proposed here. In my view, the asker has to have some reason for believing (and alleging) a false representation of professional credentials before any cause of action can be alleged and a Complaint filed. That ethical obligation would seem to preclude using a complaint alleging violation of B & P 17500 as an investigative tool.


Attorney McCall has already ably answered your question.

IF you're a direct competitor of the person and it's ultimately shown that her doctorate was fake and you can establish you have suffered direct financial arm as a result of her false advertising then you may, just may, have standing to file a false advertising lawsuit against her.

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