A recent survey by the University of Portsmouth has revealed some surprising findings about the state of recruitment fraud in the UK. The widely reported headline from the report was that annually, recruitment fraud costs companies across the UK £24 billion. The study also highlights some of the most extreme cases, such as the oil executive who was imprisoned after faking his way into a six-figure salary by claiming he had three different university degrees. However, perhaps more interesting for most companies is the section about what companies typically do to try to mitigate the risks for their organisations.

Most Common Types of Pre-Employment Checking

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that out of the 49 employers they spoke to, 43 chased up references from people applying for jobs. A slightly lower number took steps to confirm the details which the applicant had given on their form, CV or during interview. This could mean calling up previous employers to verify job titles or asking universities for confirmation of degree results. Around half of employers also said they ran police background checks on applicants, but as many criminal records checks are restricted to a specific type of job, this isn’t always possible.

Less Common Checks

There is also a huge other range of checks which employers might decide to run on people applying for a job with them. Only around a third of companies look through specialist databases to confirm details which applicants have given them, and a similar number look at directorship databases, look through the newspaper databases to see if anything comes up, or checks the public records about county court judgements or bankruptcies. Although only around a third of companies admitted to conducting a trawl through the applicant’s social media accounts, this tactic is becoming more common as it’s free and quick. Obviously, the exact checks will depend on the type of role under consideration, but this study indicates that perhaps companies should be doing more to check up on people applying to work with them.

Current Employee Checks?

Most checking is done on people who are new to the company, and that’s understandable. But increasingly, companies are vetting their staff on an ongoing basis. In the University of Portsmouth study, most companies said that they didn’t do anything to check up on staff once they were in the organisation. So even when switching to a more senior position or applying for a position in a different location in the same business, references aren’t being checked, and information isn’t being verified.

One of the cases highlighted by the report shows up just how dangerous it can be to be lax checking up on people who are working in your company already. A major European bank made just that mistake when taking on an employee who had previously had a short-term contract with the business. The employee was later convicted of fraud, costing the bank over 5 million euros. This just proves how dangerous it can be to assume that just because someone’s worked with your organisation in the past, that they’re a good choice.