Stopping Resume Fraud 101: 8 First Steps to Background Checking a Prospective Employee
Fabricating a resume is nothing new. But in the Internet age, resume fraud requires a little more sophistication than simply lying about work history or education.
The good news for fraudsters: These days, for a few hundred dollars, someone can manufacture (and document) an exemplary employment history complete with real-live references, fake companies, and invented college degrees.
There are several online service providers for folks looking to jazz up their credentials. The Reference Store is an international service offering clients “from corporate executives to newly released prison inmates” the opportunity to “create an entirely new work history using our fake reference service.
“We are only limited to our mutual imaginations,” the site proclaims.
“End the frustration of bad references today!” trumpets another provider, CareerExcuse.com, which offers a more attractive (and better copy-edited) website but fewer services (and lower fees).
Even with resume fraud, it seems, you get what you pay for.
What They Do
The services provided with these packages vary, but in short, they offer unlimited live references and prior employment complete with a business website, fax number, email addresses, HR phone number, a professional answering service, and a live HR person for future employers to talk with. CareerExcuse.com offers “accredited college degrees in 5 days.” Some also claim to be able to “deminish” (sic) any criminal history—although how remains a mystery.
A fake resume with employment history can be set up in an hour, and The Reference Store claims on their website to have placed clients into positions at Yahoo, Bacardi, George Mason University, AIG, Pepsi, Hilton, Shell, The Home Depot, and GE. No business, no matter the size, is safe from this new fraud technology.
How to Fight Back
Hiring the wrong person under false pretenses puts a company at risk. It can cost a business big money to replace a bad hire, but a good background investigation would cost the employer a fraction of that. Companies, no matter how big or small, need to find an investigative firm they like working with and have prospective employees thoroughly screened.
An online background database is likely not going to uncover this type of fraud.
Traditional background investigation methods might not suffice for this new resume fraud, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stopped. Here are a few places to start:
1. Check the address of the previous employer to see if it matches any other businesses.
Start with a search engine like Google and move to your database of choice. Search the address and see if another business pops up in the search results. See how much information is reported. Does it seem legitimate?
Look for any red flags—such as a business claiming to be a large IT firm, while the office is located in a run-down shopping center. Look for any LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter accounts and double-check the listed information.
2. Check to see if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau.
Run a quick check with the BBB. You can always drop them an email with questions if need be.
3. Locate an alternative telephone number for the business.
Don’t just use the telephone number listed on the business website. Use search engines to locate an additional number and try calling it.
4. Conduct an initial background check on the listed references.
You don’t have to dig too deep to see if they are real people. Run them through the search database of your choice to see if their info matches up with actual human beings. Look into their web presence, including social network sites, and see if they list the company as an employer.
5. Develop new references.
Easier said than done, but this is a great method to find out information. Neighbors, friends, and even current co-workers might know about the subject’s work history. You can find potential associates through databases or social networks.
6. Suggest a site visit.
Tell the company you’d like to meet in person to interview a reference. You don’t actually have to go, but you’ll learn a lot from their reaction to this request.
7. Advise the potential employee you’re a stickler for due diligence.
Be transparent about the fact that you’re planning to verify every detail of a job applicant’s resume. Have them initial a statement along the lines of, “I promise that I have accurately represented my work and educational history.” Make them think twice about floating a bad resume.
8. Never stop until your curiosity is satisfied.
Keep digging until it smells right—that’s the best advice I ever got when I was training as a police officer. The truth will come out, if you look hard enough for it.
About the Author:
Christopher Borba owns Emissary Investigative Services, a Roanoke, Virginia investigative agency specializing in due diligence, corporate investigations, and executive background profiles. He served as an infantry paratrooper with the U.S. Army in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He also worked as a patrol officer and a detective with the Fayetteville, NC police department.