Blog by Danilio Davila, LPI, RACR, Executive Director, GroupOne Background Screening

I recently had the opportunity to locate a long-time family record – my high school diploma! The diploma itself had aged, but the seal affixed to the document was very clear and the signatures were authentic. However, how would anyone be able to verify a document without checking with an objective source for confirmation of authenticity?

Most employers wish to verify education as part of their screening process. Applicants who list their high school education, college degrees or technical school degrees should anticipate the information will be verified for accuracy and validation. Whether the task of verifying education resides with an internal HR employee or outsourced to a background screening company such as GroupOne, the challenge to obtain “authentic” verification is impacted by the increased production of falsified degrees produced by diploma mills.

The competitive nature of obtaining key jobs in healthcare inspire creativity among job seekers who failed to graduate or attain certification. They conscientiously prey upon unsuspecting HR offices that either lack the resources or fail to be vigilant in accurately checking credentials. Falsified degrees look extremely authentic and, unless confirmed directly with the National Student Clearinghouse or education institution, some companies may wind up hiring people who misrepresent their education.

Another challenge is confirming whether the schools are accredited and meet the standards established for compliance and regulatory purposes. The advent of home schools and non-conventional education programs present additional research time to your background verification process. Charter schools, home schools and non-traditional schools close without formal notification, thus increasing investigation time for our background teams.

As recently as 2017, Joan H. Kim, at the time an Acting U.S. Attorney in New York, announced Umair Hamid entered a guilty plea of running a massive diploma mill through his employer in Pakistan. The falsified degrees produced penalties of a 21-month prison time and over $5 million in fines. Hamid and his co-conspirators deceived U.S. job seekers who paid upfront fees to obtain the fraudulent degree, collecting over $140 million from thousands of consumers.

It’s unfortunate – but it’s real – that the “star” candidate may also be presenting you a degree created without credibility. Be ever so vigilant to strong background reporting processes to protect your workers, clients, patients and organization.