You’ve hired the perfect candidate with a glowing CV and phenomenal qualifications to boot. But are you really 100% certain that you’re getting what is written on paper? Businesses who don’t conduct background checks could find themselves employing Mr. Hyde instead of Dr Jekyll.
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Director and CEO of Managed Integrity Evaluations (MIE), Ina van der Merwe who founded her business in 1988 out of her home garage with only a typewriter and a fax machine and has successfully grown the business year-on-year understands the risks that businesses face when employing.
She expertly answers our questions around exactly what qualification fraud is and how you could be opening up your business to possible risks.
1. What is qualification fraud?
Qualification fraud is the altering, forging or purchasing of any qualification which an individual has not achieved and / or completed. It is when a person goes out of their way to obtain a falsified qualification.
Falsified, invalid and inconsistence qualifications include those which have been purchased from a ‘degree mill, altered to reflect better results or simply included on a CV with no physical or recorded evidence
2. How rife is it in SA?
Qualification fraud is fast becoming a significant problem in South Africa – increasing by 200% over the last five years (2009 – 2014) and impacting even the highest executive levels. MIE processes a large number of qualification verifications through the National Qualification Register (NQR®) each year.
We have also found that 16% of people lie about their qualifications, whether it be adding a subject which they never completed or changing the completion date to reflect that they finished earlier than they did.
Qualification fraud can take a number of forms from altering symbols to reflect better marks to including a qualification on a job application with no physical or recorded evidence of ever completing and passing the respective course. Some individuals even go as far as to purchase a forged qualification from a ‘degree mill’.
Qualification Fraud is a criminal offence and can therefore result in prosecution with a prison sentence of between five and 10 years.
4. What are the risks to companies?
Companies which employ candidates who do not have the necessary qualification for the position they have been hired to fill, face serious financial and litigation risks. Examples of such risks include costly investigations, malpractice investigations and legal battles as well as reputational damage and reduced productivity.
Employers should also consider the possibility of a dishonest employee, who has committed fraud by lying about his / her qualification, potentially committing fraud within their organisation.
5. How can companies protect themselves
Companies can protect themselves from the above mentioned risks by partnering with a reputable background screening company.
At MIE, we urge companies to include the background screening process by a reputable background screening company during their hiring process. We don’t only verify qualifications, we also verify identification documentation and conduct credit checks and criminal checks.
All these checks can assist a company in hiring a candidate who is not only qualified, but also has a clean criminal record and clean credit history (especially if this person has applied for a position in finance).
6. How does the background screening process work?
To conduct a background check, companies provide us with specific information and the candidate who we are vetting signs a consent form. We then verify the candidate’s claimed qualification against the National Qualifications Register (NQR®).
With a database of over 3.5 million graduate records and 28 subscribing tertiary institutions, NQR® verifications are renowned for being quick, accurate and reliable. MIE processes a multitude of qualification verifications through the NQR®.
7. What are the cost / rewards vs risks of using or not using background screening?
The cost, and reputational risk, of hiring an employee who is not appropriately qualified for a position within your company far exceeds the cost of background screening.
Vetting a candidate is a once off fee, whereas investigations into an employee’s background and / or malpractice and regaining the trust of clients and the public is likely to result in the ongoing investment of time and money.