Verify the Verifier

The title may sound a bit confusing, and it can be. In the background check industry, both in the US and globally, we are finding many companies adding verifications of the candidates past work experiences and academic credentials (resume and CV’s) to the normal background check process. This is beginning to be more commonplace as a vaccine for the covid‐19 pandemic begins to promulgate through the world population and people begin to consider better paying employment or based on the past year isolation and realizations, employment that they enjoy more so than the salary.

Unfortunately, with the rise of these qualification checks, we are seeing a rise in falsifications of past work experience, educational qualifications or even embellishment on what their past job description involved. We are also seeing a rise in scams.

Many companies believe that a verification is simply calling a company number and asking specified questions to confirm or deny employment dates, employment title, salary, rehire status, etc. This could not be further from the truth. If your provider is doing a bit of due diligence, as they should, they may find a few, or many, discrepancies in the information the candidate provided.

Beyond contractual agreements employers or universities may have with database providers that hold these records such as The Work Number or The Student Clearinghouse there are verification standards that should be developed prior to verifying education or employment.

For education verifications, prior to any attempted verification, a check to see if the College or University is accredited via The US Dept of Education, CHEA, or similar US or global body prior to making the effort to verify. If found that the institution is not accredited a note to the employer is provided indicating this College or University is not accredited and may be a “diploma mill”. Often a candidate will supply a degree copy in response to our report. A degree copy should not be taken or accepted as confirmation of a degree unless that degree copy can be authenticated with the University of College.

Employment verifications will follow a similar but more involved route. An employment verification performed by a background check company should not assume the information provided by the candidate is correct. In an instance where an applicant may attempt to be falsifying information, they may use fictitious telephone numbers belonging to “friends” who they have previously contacted asking them to lie, asking their “friends” to state some previously agreed upon jobs dates and titles, or even act as the candidate’s prior supervisor.

They may also provide qualifications based on known businesses no longer in operation. When verifying past employment, a background check company should, at a minimum, research the company to ensure it is/was an actual company, email addresses located should be shown to belong to the company and not a g‐mail or yahoo or other non‐company domain email address.

Information on prior employment experience should be directly from Human Resources by calling the company directly. If not available or the company is no longer in business and the client agrees, some official documentation of proof of employment should be obtained from the applicant.

Other verifications may not solely be required for employment. Verification of employment for work visa purposes may also need to be validated. There are occasions where an applicant may fall “victim” to a scam perpetrated on them unwillingly and if the victim responds to such offers, they will be provided false documentation.

One such scam as noted in the United Kingdom via an Advisory Brief by our colleagues at the Security Watchdog, part of Capita stated:

The British High Commission, Dakar has reported a rise in employment scams aimed at workers from Bangladesh. These scams typically involve the victim receiving a false offer of employment in the UK from websites and email addresses for jobs that do not actually exist. If victims respond to such offers, they will be provided with several false documents, often claiming to be issued by the Home Office or other UK government departments, before being requested to make payments to secure their “work permit” and “visa application.”

The fraudsters perpetrating these scams have been reported to typically use the following tactics.

• Setting up fictitious job offers using details of UK businesses who are not actually offering any employment

• Using fictitious telephone numbers, names of officials and email addresses that may appear official but are not

• Asking for a registration fee to secure a work permit and UK visa. There is no such thing as an ‘employee registration fee’ in relation to UK visas

Advice provided by the government clarifies to those seeking employment within the UK that the following requests and actions are not genuine and are key indicators that the offer is fraudulent.

It is paramount that information is verified prior to a verification. It is just too easy for a person to claim what their past work experience was and if not checked by an experienced background check company this information will be accepted by an employer. Companies duped by this often lose a good candidate over someone that has embellished or lied on the resume and then must look for the new candidate and the new onboarding process must then begin, again.

Verify the Verifier.

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