“Elementary” Facts About Education Falsification (Business Wire 9/30/2008)

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CLEVELAND–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to research conducted by employeescreenIQs quality service division, the group found that approximately 10 percent of education verifications completed by the global employment screening company during the second quarter of 2008 uncovered discrepancies between the information it obtains through its investigations and facts provided by job candidates. The item most frequently falsified by applicants was the completion of their high school education.

False information about ones educational history is the third most common discrepancy we uncover while conducting verifications for our clients, said employeescreenIQs Vice President of Quality Service, Kevin Bachman. As we released in our 2009 background screening trends, due to the tightening of the job market, we are predicting a rise in the number of individuals that fluff their resume, including their educational history. Our facts show that if it wasnt for proper screening, for every 10 people a company hired, one would have obtained employment while lying about their education, a very important aspect in most jobs, said Bachman.

employeescreenIQs research also revealed these interesting facts:

  • High school diplomas were falsified more often than a college degree.
  • Post-graduate and doctoral degrees were the most infrequently falsified types of degrees.
  • Applicants false diploma/degree claims rarely involved an institution they never attended.

employeescreenIQs findings are in line with insight we receive from our employer clients, said Steven Rothberg, president of CollegeRecruiter.com, the premiere information source for college students and recent graduates that are seeking employment, continuing education and business opportunities.

When it pertains to education, job candidates are more likely to inflate their academic experience than to outright lie. Few will claim they graduated from a school they didn’t attend, or state they have a business degree when they actually graduated with a major in communications. Given the reluctance of many, and perhaps most schools, to delve into details about the academic qualifications of their alumni, these exaggerations can be very, very difficult for most employers to identify, said Rothberg.

Due to the difficult nature of completing successful education verifications, it is important employers work with an employment screening company that utilizes best practices methods. In addition to education verifications, hiring professionals should check with their screening company to make sure they have the ability to conduct professional reference interviews and license verifications. These three elements play key roles in exposing applicants attempting to falsify their education credentials.

Explosion of Diploma Mills Raises Concern

Far beyond just inflating academic experiences, diploma mills provide individuals with diplomas/ degrees without requiring any standards be met. Diploma mills operate to make a profit by distributing non-accredited academic degrees to individuals based on a level of payment and life experiences. People who obtain these degrees can then falsely claim them on their resumes.

You see it in the news, diploma mill operations being closed by federal and state investigations. Diploma mills should be a concern to all employers. The ramifications associated with hiring an individual with a false degree can be very damaging to an organization resulting in a loss of trust, and depending on the job, harm to individuals, said employeescreenIQ President and C.O.O., Jason Morris.

Diploma mills have been in existence for decades dating back to the 1920s and were in decline prior to the launch of the Internet. With the evolution of the Web, the industry has gained momentum and is growing at a rapid pace. Diploma mills provide degrees in all areas from law and medical to psychology and communications areas of study.

Employers are not the only group that can be adversely affected by diploma mills. Regis University, located in Denver, Colorado was faced with a difficult situation when a diploma mill adopted a name very similar to the well-respected institution; the mill called itself St. Regis. Founded in 1877, Regis University has been ranked in U.S. News & World Report s top tier for 14 consecutive years and serves 15,000 students across the U.S., quite a contrast to the fraudulent St. Regis.

Our experience was that, despite our best efforts, it was difficult for potential students, regulators and employers to differentiate between the legitimate institutions of higher learning and the criminals who cheat the public by using names that trade on the good reputation of accredited schools, said Regis University president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran.

Resources for Defeating Diploma Mills and Finding Accredited Institutions

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission published a helpful online tool Avoid Fake-Degree Burns By Researching Academic Credentials for employers to consult in order to recognize fake degrees when conducting education verifications. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation publish lists of legitimate institutions.

This is a serious problem being addressed aggressively by the employment screening industry and reemphasizes the importance of thorough, comprehensive screening processes, said Morris.

employeescreenIQ also offers a white paper list of diploma mills it has identified through its education verifications searches. The list, containing hundreds of known fraudulent diploma fronts, can be downloaded at employeescreen Universitys White Paper site.

employeescreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia.

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