It is easy for individuals to represent they have a degree when they don’t…and the most frightening aspect of someone falsifying their education is that a 3rd Party Background check may not identify the degree is fake.
I understand that last statement is jarring and you must be wondering how this is possible. Institutions called “Diploma Mills” exist where individuals can “earn” a Bachelor’s, Master’s or even Doctorate degree by “applying” to a Diploma Mill institution. The Job Seeker simply documents life experiences relevant to the degree desired and for a small fee, is awarded a degree. According to Havocscope, both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees can be purchased for around $500.
These institutions operate without the guidance or supervision of any authoritative agencies or professional associations and are extremely popular online. According to Wikipedia, there are over 400 Diploma Mills in Operation with another 300+ websites offering counterfeit diplomas.
These Diploma Mills look authentic because most of them have a professional looking website. They also have staff who answer phones and verify the Job Seeker “earned” the degree listed on his/her resume – making it virtually impossible for a 3rd Party Background check to identify the degree is fake. Some of these Diploma Mills even have online databases where you can enter the Job Seeker’s name and instantly “validate” the degree earned.
According to Allen Ezel and John Bear in “Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry that has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas”, it is estimated that more than 50% of the individuals claiming to have earned a PhD actually have a fake Degree.
And we are not talking about individuals who just exaggerated their education by stating they have a completed degree when they really only finished part of the courses and didn’t meet graduation requirements. We are talking about outright falsification of education.
How do you spot a fraudulent school or degree?
Ensure the institution listed on the resume is accredited. Be warned though…Wikipedia reports there are at least 98 fake accreditation agencies operating in the US which will “accredit” these fake schools. Therefore, to truly verify if the school is accredited you should reach out to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the US Department of Education (USDE).
Once you confirm the school is accredited, confirm the degree is offered. For example, a CRA candidate listed a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from a small school I hadn’t heard of. After confirming the school was accredited, a quick phone call confirmed the school doesn’t offer a chemistry degree (and the CRA had never gone to that school).
Other things to watch for:
- Always compare degrees listed on the Job Seeker’s Social Media profiles to what they have stated on their resumes.
- Be extra diligent when validating degrees obtained in other countries.
- Ask for further information when a candidate lists an institution with no degree, a degree without a year of graduation, or a degree without a specific area of study. Examples include:
- Faber College; 1989 – 1992 (what degree?)
- Faber College, BS Chemistry (what year?)
- Faber College, Bachelors of Science; 1992 (BS in what?)
- Once the school is confirmed to be accredited, contact the school to confirm the candidate completed the degree they have represented.
The key is to know what to look for and what questions to ask in order to validate the Job Seeker’s education. Would you like additional resources?
- US Department of Education – Diploma Mills and Accreditation Resources and Publications: https://www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/resources.html
- Wikipedia’s list of unaccredited institutions of higher education: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unaccredited_institutions_of_higher_education
- Wikipedia’s list of unrecognized higher education accreditation organizations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unrecognized_higher_education_accreditation_organizations
What about certifications? I address this topic in a different blog – let me know if you have questions or comments.
By the way, your resource provider should be vetting out this information for you. If they are not, it may be time to explore other options.
The next article will discuss other areas to consider prior to wasting your time with the interview. Let us know if you have questions – we are here to help!
Investing in a Lifetime of Success,
The recruitment of High Quality CRAs is our specialty; therefore, we are equipped to quickly and effectively identify this type of fraudulence. We handle scenarios like these daily so let us know what we can do to help you, as we understand the CRAs you select will have a major impact to the success or failure of your studies.
Angela, what are your thoughts about certifications? Are you seeing a trend in “fake” certifications as well?
Bob, certifications are a different beast…Industry recognized certifications such as ACRP and SOCRA are extremely easy to validate and therefore almost impossible to fake. ACRP offers real time validation through an online database while SOCRA publishes a list every other month (and there is a contact form if you need to validate a recent certification).
So as it relates to us seeing job seekers fraud an ACRP or SOCRA certification: we just haven’t seen that. However, there are a lot of non-recognized certifications out there. I actually know of several job seekers who have been scammed by non-recognized certification organizations which provide little or no value to the job seeker.
For both the Hiring Managers and Job Seekers, I recommend you stick with well reputed organizations such as ACRP and SOCRA.
I hope this answers your question but let me know if you have additional questions.