Recruiting new members of staff can be a long and complex process for businesses; often the primary concern will be finding someone with the right skills and attitude to fit in with your company.

Many employers often forget to check the credentials of a prospective employee or choose not to make the relevant checks trusting the claims made on a CV. In light of the recent information released by the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), is this a dangerous omission by employers?

HEDD has recently confirmed that 32 fake universities have been shut down by the government in the last year. These universities offered fake degrees from a university in the UK – something which can be highly desirable for both foreign students and students in the UK.

The overall trend for fake universities and fake degree certificates is worrying for UK employers given that according to HEDD research, only 20% of employers verify applicants qualifications with the awarding body relying instead on CV’s and certificates presented by potential employees.

There are tales over the last few years of employers being duped by fake credentials. Take Dennis O’Riordan who worked as a barrister for an international law firm, Paul Hastings LLP and was forced to quit after it was discovered that he had faked qualifications from Harvard and Oxford University.

It would seem as though fake credentials are easy to purchase. The University of Cambridge recently discovered an EBAY merchant selling fake University of Cambridge PHD certificates including fake signatures and choices of subject studied. These certificates could be purchased for only £25 and could conceivably dupe an employer into believing that a potential employee holds qualifications from one of the most prestigious universities in the UK.

In light of the ease in which credentials can be faked, employers should bear in mind the results of the 2014 survey conducted by HEDD which confirmed that 11% of students and graduates falsely claim to hold a degree and 40% of students and graduates inflate their degree.

An employer might be presented with a real degree certificate from a fake university or a fake degree from a real university – either way, a potential employee is attempting to gain employment fraudulently. To protect yourself and your business, make sure that you verify the university and the degree with the university in question. Any genuine university certificate will have a hand written signature as opposed to a pixelated signature and will be on good quality paper. Also keep an eye out for spelling mistakes, genuine degree certificates will be carefully checked and will not contain mistakes.

Above all, employers should be wary and should check all credentials carefully, whether your prospective employee is a graduate or a senior manager. These checks could save your company a great deal of money and embarrassment if a fraudulent employee without the necessary qualifications gains employment with you.

At CH Legal our team can provide you with assistance and advice in relation to any queries you may have regarding employment, contact rebecca.harris@ch-legal.co.uk for more information.