Protecting your business from qualification fraud

Protecting your business from qualification fraud

According to recent data, it’s estimated that 40% of people lie on their CVs. In a survey of 1000 workers, it was found that:

  • 1% lie about gaps in their CV
  • 4% are willing to lie about salary
  • 9% lie about work experience
  • 4% lie about their previous responsibilities

This shows that in the current recruitment landscape, there’s an appetite for embellishing the truth on CVs and in applications.

The risks that this poses to business, particularly when it relates to qualifications, can be significant. In fact, 56% of employers have detected employees with bogus credentials and embellished CV’s. 

Qualification fraud is a growing issue, particularly as we digitise the recruitment and hiring process. Many employers aren’t meeting candidates face to face, and original documents are sometimes only ever seen briefly on a video call, or seen as a scan or photograph. This makes validating certificates and documentation more challenging, leaving the door open for fake or forged qualifications to pass muster.

The risks of qualification fraud

  • Employees are less experienced and knowledgeable than you thought – Employing someone you thought had an impressive and relevant degree from a respected university, when in fact they’ve never studied at undergraduate level and have little knowledge on the subject at hand, can have far reaching damaging effects on your business. Employees who are unable to do the job to the level required risks impacting your business performance, employee morale, and reputation among clients.
  • Employees do not meet regulatory requirements – Businesses in regulated sectors like health, pharmaceuticals, finance and education require certain qualifications for safeguarding reasons. If your employees are found to be to be in roles for which they are not properly qualified, you could be legally liable and at risk of investigation for regulatory noncompliance or malpractice.
  • Employees willing to commit qualification fraud are high risk – The fact that a person would go to extreme lengths to secure a job means they’re also likely to go to other dishonest lengths, too. Employees often have access to your business’s data and other valuable information, as well as physical assets and stock. It’s important to ensure your team is trustworthy to protect your business from insider fraud and theft, too.

Types of qualification fraud

Forged certificates - There are some incredibly convincing fake certificates in circulation. Because UK degrees are desirable internationally, there’s a lot of money to be made in the certificate forgery business, and perpetrators often invest large amounts into keeping up with the latest technology and devices that universities use for their own highly secure documents.

There are also less convincing forgeries that do sometimes end up in personnel departments and HR files because they haven’t been looked at closely enough.

Bogus institutions - As well as faked certificates from genuine educational institutions, employers should also be wary of qualifications from bogus universities, which are very widespread: for each genuine university, there’s a fake, “shadow” university. HEDD, the UK higher education’s official degree verification service, hosts a database of bogus institutions, and can check certificates and qualifications against it to ensure their legitimacy.

Unaccredited or poor quality providers - Institutions offering post graduate diplomas should be looked at with caution by employers, as although they are offering training legally, they are often not providing training to the level that fully accredited universities are, and the diplomas they offer are subject to far less regulation than degrees.

Setting up as a provider of post graduate diplomas is very easy, and companies can charge huge amounts of money for diplomas that actually mean very little in terms of qualification or real training. Just because a provider has a UKRLP designation, doesn't say anything about the quality or even the legitimacy of the qualifications being provided.

Candidates with these diplomas are unlikely to have chosen a less than reputable training provider knowingly. They will most likely have paid for their training and put the work in to achieve their certificate, but unfortunately it may not signify that the training received is up to scratch.

Protecting your business

Including a robust qualification verification process in your recruitment operations can help to mitigate risk and identify forged or fraudulent qualifications.

The most effective way forward is to ensure full screening, like that offered by Reed Screening, is in place, particularly for roles where qualifications are required as part of your business’s regulatory obligations or safeguarding requirements.

Tools and services that can be used to check the validity of a certificate or institute include HEDD in the UK, Student Clearinghouse in the USA, Duo in the Netherlands, Europass in the EU, and other institutes across the world, which can check with student records departments and provide fully auditable evidence.

Future innovations

As fraud cases are widespread, particularly with more online recruitment processes, there is also an increased interest in online and automatic validation of qualifications and credentials. There are different models that are developing, for example in the US the Velocity Foundation is working to digitize credentials onto a blockchain and have employers share candidates’ records so they can be automatically verified.

UK ENIC, which post Brexit is what became of UK NARIC have a number of ways of validating certain qualifications and information.

The Better Hiring Institute is currently working with academics in the UK and technology platforms to identify ways of digitising qualifications, from college level, school level and training, and at the moment are performing user testing. They are working on industry standards and how it could work in terms of validating qualifications and certificates, as well as running a pilot with the Scottish Government this year.  

Protect your business with Reed Screening

The importance of thorough screening of qualifications mustn’t be underestimated, but a robust screening process doesn’t mean that your candidate experience should be negatively impacted. At Reed Screening we ensure that qualification checks take place smoothly and thoroughly, to ensure your business is protected from qualification fraud. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch.