Being in the know

Of the massive £2.8 billion spent annually in the UK on online advertising, more than a quarter is invested by the recruitment sector. 80 per cent of UK jobseekers now search online, but this growth is mirrored by a huge rise in CV fraud.
It’s still not too late to start a new career as a fraudster! Fake a CV and land a plum job. Consider the advantages – high rewards, a low chance of being caught, minimal penalties if you are discovered, and it’s easily repeatable anyway so just move on to another sucker employer should you be found out!
While businesses outsourcing their employee screening have increased sevenfold in the past five years, there are still plenty of HR departments and recruitment agencies wide open to applicant fraud. Perhaps your organisation is one of them?
The rise in online applications, while it confers many advantages, makes CV manipulation ever simpler for the fraudsters. Just consider how fast and easy it has become for an applicant to ‘fire off’ multiple job applications to firms and government departments, knowing the beleaguered employers will have widely varying levels of ability to cope with basic checks.
Better still for the fraudulent authors of creative backgrounds and CVs is the knowledge that – for the time being, at least – inventing the work history, experience, qualifications and even references that will make them appear ideal candidates for a wide range of jobs is likely to fool the 86 per cent of employers who do not outsource document verification, screen backgrounds, check CVs, references or qualifications!
Yet, just as technology has helped to create the problem, so can it be used to provide the solution.
Historically, it’s true that employers have preferred to invest in IT, data and premises security whilst overlooking or neglecting what’s possibly the greatest risk of them all – the internal risk of employing wrong or ‘rogue’ staff. To be fair, that’s probably because the technology to outsource independent staff screening procedures has not been widely available until recently.

Prevention of fraud
Use of technology is increasingly becoming key to the prevention of identity theft and the identification of forged documents and collusial crime. New software solutions now enable faster and more efficient staff vetting and pre-employment screening. The Xchecker system, for example, ensures the highest quality of checks and is proven to reduce turnaround times by more than 40 per cent. Xchecker workflow technology manages each stage of the implementation process, from receipt of candidate details through to comprehensive client reporting.
The new system provides back-end support for many outsourced service provisions including the rapid screening of temporary workers, with a report delivered to the recruiter or employer - typically within 24 hours - confirming no known reasons why an individual may not take up work. Xchecker combines proven, world-class, technology in combination with other robust processes and ISO27001 accredited systems technology, and incorporates the latest ‘PASS’ vetting business management system which takes information from the interview stage and creates a paperless one-time-entry system, making screening information available at the touch of a button.
The purpose of IDchecker, the document verification process and methodology, is to ensure that original documents confirming identity and right to work are valid. The protection of this data, and use of the information, is strictly controlled. All documentation on data is accessed consensually with no exceptions.
Technology for image capture and automatic data population of documents enables screeners to hold photographs of every new applicant, automatically overlaid with data population, i.e. lifting the data from a scanned document such as a birth certificate, together with other certificate dates, expiry dates, addresses and so on. New technology allows all screening forms to be completed automatically, which allows us to compare and highlight discrepancies while at the same time eliminating any data input errors and the opportunity for internal fraud.
An additional benefit is that when a photographic image of the candidate has been captured it can be accessed by the employer to ensure that the successful candidate is actually the person that turns up for work.

New technologies
The new screening technologies allow for the development of intelligent methodologies, including Metrics, ROI, Risk Function Matrix, Risk Register and ID Document Verification.
ROI models highlight both hard and soft costs. Hard costs include items such as savings on management time (admin and interview), reduced employment legal cases and fees, cost of churn, and improved productivity due to shortened recruitment cycle. Soft costs include brand and reputation damage, staff morale, third party damages, consequential losses and customer perception.
It is advisory for any business outsourcing screening to insist upon the production of a client risk register to measure, analyse and mitigate business risk while protecting brand reputation. Such a register will typically consider statutory and regulatory requirements, corporate social guidelines and client history.
A Risk-Function Matrix will identify employee grade and job function over a prescribed period, together with impact analysis and actions required to quantify and ameliorate risk. The Matrix considers exposure by job function and grading, access to company and customer data and other assets, statutory and regulatory requirements, evaluation by grade of high and low risk functions and the requirement for an ongoing checking regime.
Another area where new technology has become invaluable is when screening the influx of ‘open borders’ workers applying for jobs in the UK. Some of these applicants are very sophisticated in capitalising fully upon their ‘right to work’, with greatly increasing prevalence of forged, expired and tampered documents, and impersonation of others. Sophisticated document screening equipment is now in place and is uncovering an increasing percentage of applicants with forged supporting documents, including passports. And while some have clearly – to us, at least, if not to an employer! – obtained documents or a complete identity via the Internet or petty criminal sources, some applicants have forged identities that require our most sophisticated technology to detect.
If you employ staff on a temporary basis through agencies, it’s prudent to confirm with your suppliers that their processes use the latest technology to protect you and to comply with the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003.
While there may be many practical difficulties in monitoring the consistency and effective compliance of a wide range of preferred suppliers, the most practical way of approaching this problem is to appoint one screening company to act as the ‘master screener’ for businesses wishing to attain preferred supplier status.

Keep monitoring
Having used technology to verify IDs and documents, it’s wise to keep monitoring. Screen existing employees too – otherwise a worker can avoid detection by simply ‘staying put’. It’s a mistake to believe that this only applies to lower level employees. Indeed, when the stakes are high the criminals are even busier.
Get your outsourced screener to verify signatures and addresses of directors and cross-reference against dates of birth. Check against photos on annual reports or social network sites. It’s amazing how many don’t tie up!

Connected parties analysis
Guarding against collusial crime now has to be considered. This activity is on the increase since it’s much easier to commit crimes against organisations and employers if more than one person is involved. HR and accounts departments are obvious targets.
Look for connected parties – does the spouse of that payroll clerk have a connection with one of your suppliers? Are there employees with connecting elements such as common referees, common addresses or telephone numbers? Screening databases and public declaration of your screening capabilities will deter inappropriate individuals. The simple requirement for screening to be undertaken consensually acts as a major deterrent and will generate FOC benefits.

Experience shows that many candidates still rely on prospective employers not checking CVs, written applications and experience and qualifications claimed during an interview. Thus, dishonest workers take this opportunity to embellish or completely or partially re-invent themselves and their past. Indeed, a recent screen revealed that five per cent of applicants for what I shall call ‘sensitive government appointments’ didn’t even have a genuine passport. And that’s after losing the applicants who declined to be checked and withdrew their applications!
One may speculate why some job applicants may choose to invest thousands of pounds in often very elaborate forged documents for relatively low level salaries? There are several reasons, ranging from multiple candidates using one ID document to secure employment to the malicious intention to undertake criminal activities when confirmed as an employee.
Legislation and other drivers such as the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Financial Services and Markets Act have bought with them heavy new responsibilities for employers. Directors and executives are now legally accountable for the actions of their employees and there are increasing legal requirements for corporate responsibility and due diligence when recruiting staff. The Data Protection Act 1998 clearly states that proper weight should be given to the discretion and integrity of staff when they are being considered for employment, yet many employers are still failing to consider to the potential risk from security violations until it’s too late. Think for a moment about the corporate manslaughter risks of not checking the validity of something so basic as a driving licence – if an employee with a fake or invalid licence endangers a customer or fellow employee and the employer hasn’t even bothered to undertake simple verification screening with the DVLA, then company insurance will be invalid and any claim will rest with the negligent directors.

Tailor the screen­
Screening need not be exhaustive – the checks should be tailored to be appropriate in meeting the different grades or levels of responsibility of the staff throughout the period of their employment. Although all staff should be checked, a potential employee’s access to sensitive information or significant assets should be reflected in the checks undertaken.
The technology available from quality screening outsourcers now offers much greater protection to employers than they could achieve from continuing with their own internal screening practices.

Steve Bailey is co-chair of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and director of Reed Screening

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