You’ve heard the old saying, “honesty is the best policy”, but the rising dishonesty in the occupational sector certainly suggests this virtue has gone missing almost entirely.

Starting from slight exaggerations and small white lies in yesteryears, job applicants have gone beyond all limits with résumé fraud thanks to the advent of high-tech scams. Now, a mere enhancement in education credentials is only a minor fraud, as job hunters have gone as far as coming up with fake employment histories, job references, degrees and specialized licenses.

A Few Alarming Statistics

Let’s switch perspectives and take a look at some of the most alarming statistics you might have recently come across. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce:

  • 75% of workers “steal” from their workplace repeatedly.
  • Internal thefts at workplace are 15 times more likely to occur than external thefts.
  • Losses due to embezzlement reach higher than $4 billion each year.
  • Employee theft leads to the failure of 30% of small businesses.

What Started It All?

Coming back to the topic at hand, the increasing fraud in résumés traces back to the increase in unemployment, combined with difficult competition between applicants competing in the occupational sector for whatever few job positions that are available.

So what’s happening now? Jobseekers without any specialized skills or degree have begun lying and cheating on their résumés, and this has become a major problem for employers. Why so? Applicants lying on their résumés are more likely to turn into employees misrepresenting issues at work or even worse, destroying your entire organization.

The Catalysts in This Formula

Online services such as FakeResume and CareerExcuse are the ones who seem to be making the most of this rising trend. Offering “powerful underground guides” and showing you how to “fill the gaps in your employment history”, these websites can help you add experience to your résumé, rig your résumé so it is picked by HR systems that screen résumés, get fake references; and the list goes on.

For about $199, you can buy a bachelor’s degree, complete with transcripts, letters of recommendation and verification services.

What Can Small Businesses Do to Avoid This Fraud?

It is undoubtedly a daunting task to check up on references and confirm the accuracy of applications. But given the statistics, you can’t take risks on this. High-tech complexities surrounding occupational fraud these days make it more important than ever to ascertain who you are hiring.

Consider these few tips for avoiding any blunders in screening applicants:

  • When it comes to verifying employment history, ask the applicant about the months in which they began and ended working for the given employer. ‘2004-2005’ may seem like two years of employment, when in truth they could be just two months.
  • Question the applicant about their previous employments in detail. Directly contact previous employers for verification. Don’t trust any “800” numbers as they can be fake references. Always independently verify phone numbers.
  • While verifying education and training, verify the certifications as well as attendance directly with the institution. In addition, check to make sure the institution is accredited and not just a degree mill. Also verify licenses with the state agencies who’ve issued them.
  • Conduct civil record and criminal background searches where appropriate. This is a must for positions of trust and safety-sensitive jobs.

Conduct civil record and criminal background searches where appropriate.

If you or your HR department does not have the time or experience to thoroughly check all aspects of the applicant’s resume, you should not just forgo the verification; but instead, enlist the assistance of an employment screening company. Employment screening companies have the experience and are up to date on all of the latest trends in résumé fraud. You can outsource as much or as little of the applicant screening process to a third party background check provider and be confident that you have done your due diligence before bringing a candidate on to your team.

Take some time out and get to know who you’re hiring. If you don’t do your homework, you can end up paying a hefty price.