Employee fraud can have devastating consequences for a business and as concern over disgruntled employees committing fraud rises in 2011, employers are looking for different ways in which to combat internal fraud. Current economic conditions prevailing in 2011 could have a severe and negative impact on employee morale – which is one of the main contributors to increasing incidences of employee fraud. Corporate SA is losing an estimated R150 billion annually to insider fraud, according to Steven Powell head of forensics at law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs.
The volume of background checks carried out by EMPS increased by 18 per cent in 2010, despite an obvious slowdown in recruitment, demonstrating a tightening-up in employee screening. While it is crucial to deal with this issue in the recruitment process, to truly safeguard against insider fraud HR needs to maintain an element of screening throughout the employment contract.
BY MONSY ALVARADO
Board of education members statewide will be fingerprinted in the coming weeks to comply with a new state law that requires they undergo a criminal history check.
The state Department of Education has sent procedures to school districts, and is urging trustees to get the digital fingerprints done as soon as possible, said Faith Sarafin, spokeswoman for the department.
Social Media background checks are here to stay, approved by the FTC and increasingly adopted by corporations as a way to screen applicants. The good news is that you need to be a pretty big jerk to flunk one.
A social media background check is a little more sophisticated that checking your Facebook account, but not much. Basically, after you apply for a job at a company, the company–with your permission–hires another company to check you out on the web.
Having the third company check you out on the web is an important part of the process. Employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sexual orientation and so forth. But if the company does the background check on the web itself, that photo of you with your church group marching in the Gay Pride parade is going to put them in a seriously bad position. If they don’t hire you, you can claim it’s because of that picture.
DuPont expands in solar energy with acquisition of Innovalight, Technology to enhance solar cell efficiency
DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) on July 25th, 2011 announced that it has acquired Innovalight Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.), a company specializing in advanced silicon inks and process technologies that increase the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells.
The acquisition further strengthens DuPont’s position as a leader in materials for the solar energy market, enabling a broader and more integrated photovoltaic materials and technology offering from DuPont. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“Innovalight has very exciting technology that improves cell efficiency and DuPont can help expedite its adoption,” said David B. Miller, president – DuPont Electronics & Communications.
FTC and Social Media Employment Background Checks
When it comes to social media employment background checks, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has indicated that it plans to hold employers gaining information about potential employees over the internet subject to the same accountability as employers who obtain information about prospective employees in more traditional ways.
This means, among other laws and regulations, that social media employment background checks must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
As the consumer protection branch of the federal government, the FTC works in part to protect the privacy and reputation value inherent in people’s names. This protection has extended to the FTC enforcing regulations whereby employers must do diligent research into the accuracy of data provided to them about potential future employees.
Your next job application could require a social media background check. Odds are, you have no clue what that means. Nobody does. It’s new and scary and probably scours the Web for pictures of you puking on the beach.
But screw speculation. We wanted to know. So we ran background checks on six Gizmodo employees. Here’s what we found, and why you should both freak out about and embrace it.
By Gordon Basichis
Fraudulent claims from international employment candidates, especially from China, have necessitated an increased in employment and education verification background checks for employers looking to recruit applicants from these regions. Many employment screening services have reported that the growing problem of academic and work qualification fraud in China has lead to increased business from background checking agencies.
For a long time international candidates made fraudulent claims and for the most part they went uncontested. Staffing agencies and employers for a long time accepted the information on CV’s and resumes pretty much at face value. But no longer.
by Blake Forrester
Most employers can easily grasp why running a quality background check is important, but unfortunately there are many myths floating around about background checks that could get even a well-meaning employer in trouble.
One myth is that there is some kind of national database to which private employers have access which contains all the information an employer could ever need to ascertain a potential employee’s criminal history and to confirm the education and employment information they have claimed. If only it were that easy.
Doing a thorough background check necessitates a lot of legwork and attention to detail. You have to know where to look, and you have to look in a lot of places. For a criminal background check, for instance, there are over 10,000 courthouses in the United States that have relevant records. These courthouses must be visited in person; they do not combine all their records somewhere for the convenience of employers.
A related myth is that to do a proper background check you need only consult commercially available databases.
Unfortunately while such commercial database services might seem attractively inexpensive, you get what you pay for. How likely do you think it is that the folks who compiled these databases went to all 10,000 courthouses and checked and double checked everything to minimize false positives and false negatives? Not very.
A third myth is that as an employer it’s really not too hard to do a background check that’s “good enough” so that if anything does go wrong you can’t be blamed.
In fact, the due diligence that is required of you can be quite stringent, not to mention unpredictable since it may boil down to what a given jury decides on a given day would have been a reasonable effort on your part to investigate a potential employee.
A fourth myth is the common belief that employers can disqualify an applicant based on a criminal conviction without a business justification.
Once a person has “done his time” the law does not allow him to be indiscriminately penalized the rest of his life by being rendered unemployable. If the nature of the job, the specific offense he committed, the amount of time that has elapsed since the crime, etc. indicate that he would be a substantial risk, then yes, you are within your rights as an employer to deny him a job. You are not required to hire a convicted sex offender to work at your day care, for instance. But if he smoked marijuana 25 years ago, that’s not sufficient grounds to rule him out for employment repairing clocks in your shop.
by Melissa Rubin
Diploma mills are no laughing matter. They have caused hundreds of Americans thousands of dollars, fines, and abashed dreams of turning an online university education into a promising career. How can you make sure you aren’t one of the many whose been conned?
The following is a checklist of items you want to make sure your online university does not have. Remember, anything worth having is earned – and earned by hard work and perseverance.
Make sure the online university you’re looking at does not meet the following, and your online education s on the right path.
- They often have names similar to well-known colleges or universities, but fail to mention an accrediting agency or name a fake accrediting agency.
- The organization frequently changes addresses, sometimes moving from state to state.
- Written materials typically include numerous spelling and grammatical errors, sometimes on the diploma itself.
- Overemphasis on the speed and brevity with which someone can receive a degree (e.g. “Call now and have your degree shipped to you overnight!”).
- Degrees can be earned in far less time than normal (e.g. 27 days) or the diploma is printed with a specific backdate.
- There is no selectivity in admissions, or any questions about previous test scores or detailed academic history.
- No interaction with professors or faculty (e.g. only two emails are received from a professor).
- Degree requirements are vague or unspecified, lacking class descriptions and without any mention of how many credit hours are required to complete a program.
- Tuition and fees are typically on a per-degree basis.
- Grade point average (GPA) and academic honors (e.g. Summa Cum Laude) can be specified at the time of purchase.
Prospective caregivers for some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens may soon be subject to extensive criminal record searches, thanks to a $3 million grant to establish a comprehensive statewide system for thorough background checks.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is very pleased to participate in this critical initiative that is designed to help long-term care facilities and providers avoid hiring individuals with certain criminal histories by conducting federal and state level background checks on prospective job applicants,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “This falls directly in line with our ongoing work to address elder abuse and improve patient care in long-term care facilities.”
Currently, state law requires long-term care facilities to conduct only name-based background checks for their prospective employees. This grant, however, will help the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) purchase equipment to conduct digital fingerprint background checks, which will ultimately enhance patient safety.
The grant enables the state to purchase live scan equipment to secure digital fingerprints that will be used for both in-state and FBI criminal background checks, according to cabinet officials.
Kentucky is home to 590 long-term care facilities, 101 assisted living facilities, and roughly 600 other providers who employ direct patient access workers.
Once established, this new statewide system will allow officials to perform more in-depth screening of applicants seeking employment at nursing, intermediate care and Alzheimer’s facilities; personal care and family care homes; home health agencies, hospice care providers, long-term care hospitals, personal services agencies, adult day care providers, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, and other entities that provide long-term services.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is charged with administering the National Background Check Program (NBCP), created under Section 6201 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This agency is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Last year, Beshear ordered a multi-agency review – coordinated by the CHFS – that resulted in a comprehensive report on the protection of nursing home residents. The Cabinet has implemented many recommendations included in the report. Additionally, the cabinet has revived the state Elder Abuse Committee to continue the vital collaboration between agencies and stakeholders in an effort to enhance measures aimed at protecting Kentucky’s seniors.
The state also joined the national Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program. In the program, states work with medical professionals to detect cases where older Americans are being scammed.
On the heels of these actions, Beshear supported and later signed into law two pieces of legislation targeted at protecting adults and the elderly from abuse and exploitation. The laws, which specifically addressed guardianship of adults, bar individuals convicted of felony abuse or exploitation of an adult from serving as that victim’s guardian, executor or power of attorney. The other measure makes the guardianship process more accessible for those who are dealing with more than one state.
“The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is committed to our mission to protect Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens,” said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller. “We are pleased to take part in the National Background Check Program and commend Beshear for his continued leadership and support of issues that safeguard Kentucky’s seniors.”
As the state begins to implement the grant, it seeks input from the provider community and public and private stakeholders on the development of legislation designed to expand current background check policies. For more information or to provide input on the new program, contact the Office of the Inspector General at (502) 564-2888.
Educational credentials can be an important part of an employer’s decision making process in hiring. Educational achievement tells an employer a great deal about an applicant’s ability, qualifications, and motivation. Many employers feel that educational qualifications are a critical factor in predicting success on the job. For many positions, education is a prerequisite in terms of subject matter knowledge or for obtaining the appropriate license for the position.
Surveys suggest that as many as 30% of all job applicants falsify information about their educational backgrounds. The falsifications can include outright fabrications such as making up degrees from legitimate schools the applicant never attended or valueless degrees from diploma mills.
An applicant can also falsify his or her educational achievements based upon some semblance of fact, such as claiming degrees from schools the applicant actually attended but did not obtain the degree claimed. Typically a candidate turns their months or weeks of attendance into an AA degree, or claims a BA or an advanced degree even if they did not complete the course work or fulfill all graduation requirements.
Colleges and universities also have a vested interest in confirming educational accomplishments. Confirming an applicant received a degree from their school helps their graduates and promotes the reputation of their school. Conversely, uncovering the fraudulent use of the school’s good name helps to preserve and protect the school’s reputation.
Background firms verify education in the U.S. in two ways. One way is to contact the school, usually through the registar’s office. Before doing that, however, a competent background firm will first run the name of the school against various databases to ensure that the school is legitimate and accredited, and not a phony degree mill. A number of schools will require a written release or a fee, which can delay the verification. Delays can also occur because schools operate on an academic schedule, which can mean the administrative offices are closed during holidays and the summer months.
The other options available to screening firms and employers are online services that have contracts with schools to gather degree information from schools, thus acting as the schools’ agents.
For some job applicants, getting a college diploma apparently no longer requires years of hard work, taking tests, paying tuition or even reading a book. Why bother going through the formalities when all a person needs is a credit card and a web browser in order to buy an authentic looking diploma that mimics real colleges, universities and even high schools across the U.S.? Go to any search engine and run keywords such as “Fake Diploma” and anyone can instantly “graduate” from nearly any school in America with a very handsome and authentic looking diploma suitable for hanging.
One such website advertises that it creates “very realistic diplomas/transcripts. These diplomas/ transcripts are extremely high quality printed on official parchment quality paper. You can show your employer and they will never doubt that you indeed attended college. You will not find better quality anywhere!!!”
Some of these sites “officially” caution that the diplomas and transcripts are intended for “Novelty and Entertainment Use Only.” However, the fake documents you receive do not have a disclaimer written any place on them. When presented with a physical diploma or transcripts, employers should fax a copy to the school to confirm its authenticity. Most background firms can tell stories of faxing copies of degrees, supplied by the applicant, to high schools and colleges only to be told the degree is a fake.
Verifying high school education can present particular problems, due to the fact that there are so many high schools, and the fact they operate on an academic schedule. The most difficult degree to verify is typically a GED, since it requires additional time and effort to track down the office that has the information.
Adding to the challenge is that some degree mills and fake online schools have even created fake accreditation agencies to falsely vouch for the fake schools. In the U.S. schools are generally accredited by private organizations, that are recognized as legitimate accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) found at www.chea.org. The U.S. government, in response to these issues, has created a web site where employers can look up a school to determine if and how it is accredited. The web site is at: www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx which provides searches of schools by accreditation agency.
ESR goes through an extensive procedure to verify that a school is legitimate. First, ESR compares the schools to schools that are known to be legitimate. If the school does not pass that test, ESR examines numerous “diploma mill” lists. However, those lists are a moving target since new diploma mills can be easily created. If a school is not on either list, ESR then carefully reviews the schools web site and in particular, looks to see what “accreditation” the school claims.
The problems with degree mills, however, should not be confused with legitimate vocational or trade schools. Each state has an agency in charge of certifying state-approved educational programs. If there are questions about the legitimacy of a vocational or trade school, then an employer should contact the appropriate authority in their state. There are numerous distance learning programs available on the internet as well. An employer should evaluate the program to determine if it has relevance to the job.
The bottom-line is that employers should not take educational accomplishments at face value without ensuring that the applicant actually has obtained the degree, and that the degree is from a legitimate educational institution.
THE MASSACHUSETTS Community College Executive Office says it has no plans to change procedures in light of an incident involving a student carrying a handgun at MassBay Community College. The general belief is that community colleges are often places for students from struggling and troubled backgrounds to earn a second chance to educate themselves. Forcing students to disclose criminal records, many community colleges say, will discourage students from applying at all.
“I don’t think a [criminal records check] or even asking students to disclose necessarily makes anyone safer,’’ Bristol Community College spokeswoman Sally Chapman Cameron told the Globe. “I don’t think the research is there to support that.’’
I am sure our community college leaders do not intend it this way, but that almost sounds like the National Rifle Association. All around the nation, gun rights advocates, often boosted by the NRA, are pushing for concealed-carry policies on college campuses. Most efforts have so far stalled, although a challenge to the ban at the University of Colorado has reached that state’s supreme court.
They have stalled because sanity so far is prevailing. In Idaho, for instance, a leading voice against campus carry is Republican Senate majority leader Bart Davis. He lost his 23-year-old son eight years ago at an off-campus beer party when he was shot by a Boise State University student carrying a concealed weapon. When supporters of campus-carry laws claimed students with guns would not be “drunken frat boys,’’ Davis retorted, “This is not an intellectual exercise for me and my family.’’
If guns on campus are not an intellectual exercise in Idaho, they should not be in Massachusetts. As much as our community colleges should be a place where people can find their callings and even rescue themselves, the real world of what young people can do with semiautomatics, from Columbine to Virginia Tech, mandates a tightening of disclosure policies.
The case at MassBay involved 18-year-old Darryl Max Dookhran. He was arrested at the registrar’s office in February with a loaded semiautomatic 9mm handgun in his book bag and additional rounds. He started at MassBay in January, after earning his high diploma in jail while serving time on a variety of juvenile offenses, including assault with a firearm.
A fellow student saw what he thought was a gun in Dookhran’s pants and told a professor. Dookhran was arrested and is back in the criminal justice system. The professor who turned in Dookhran’s name said it was sad because the young man was clearly “between two worlds,’’ knowing he needed an education, but not quite ready to completely let go of his past.
But that should not mean community colleges should be stuck in between these worlds, as sure as you can say the name of Jared Loughner, the alleged assailant in this year’s Arizona massacre who scared students at his community college with his behavior. The policy of not asking questions about a student’s past struggles is a noble idea, but histories of gun violence should not be part of that policy.
That does not mean a school should automatically block a student with a prior firearms record. What it does means is that the school is obligated — on behalf of all the students — to go through a process to determine whether the student has given up violence. Massasoit Community College says it is considering the disclosure of disciplinary actions. The police chief of Quinsigamond Community College told the Globe that such disclosures might help anticipate problems.
That is the direction the community colleges should go in. Had such disclosures been in place, MassBay would have asked Dookhran if he had given up guns. It may have helped him give up that world for one that centered on education.
As the unemployed struggle to find jobs in a difficult economy, they might look for ways to improve their chances of landing that elusive job offer.
“It’s easy to see that people are looking for ways to make themselves more marketable, given the state of the economy,” said Sandra Chalmers, state Division of Trade and Consumer Protection administrator. “One way of doing that is going back to school.”
Those people can be vulnerable to scams, Chalmers said. Diploma mills offer degrees without requiring the time or effort of the student. The offers, usually coming from pop-up windows on the Internet or unwanted emails, sound too good to be true. As with most scams, that’s a warning that it probably isn’t true, Chalmers said.
Statewide, there were 78 complaints of diploma scams in 2008 and 83 in 2009, the most recent year in which statistics are available, Chalmers said. While the number of complaints has remained fairly steady, there has been an increase in the number of diploma mills nationally and internationally, she said.
A lot of people are buying degrees without doing the work, said Dan Kellogg, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point registrar. The diploma mills provide fake transcripts, along with the degrees.
“It’s just like counterfeit money,” Kellogg said.
Official records from known schools have watermarks and other security protection to keep them from being copied, Kellogg said. Employers need to be careful to check out applicants’ degrees and ask specific questions about school start and graduation dates.
There are numerous legitimate schools that offer good online programs, Kellogg said. However, it should take four or more years to get a bachelor’s degree, even if the degree is through an online program.
Potential students looking for an online program from a known college should call the school to verify the website, Kellogg said.
Wood County Investigator-Sgt. Dean Berres said he hasn’t had any complaints from diploma mill victims. However, he cautions people against clicking on the pop-up ads that advertise schools.
“In most cases, those pop-ups will also contain either spyware or malware,” Berres said. “You click on them and it’s going to install software monitoring activity (programs). Anything like that could do some bad stuff.”
People can take steps to determine whether a school is legitimate, Chalmers said.
The Wisconsin Educational Approval Board regulates post-secondary schools, and people can find information at www.eab.state.wi.us. The U.S. Department of Education also has a database of accredited schools at www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation. While not all legitimate schools get accreditation, it’s a good place to start, Chalmers said.
People should remember that trying to take a shortcut to getting a diploma or degree to get a job can have bad results, she said. If an employer learns a degree isn’t legitimate, the employee could be fired and find it difficult to get hired again.
Education verification is an important part of your general employee background check. If you believe that this has lesser importance than a criminal background check, consider the case of Laura Callahan who resigned as Director of the Department of Homeland Security in 2004.
It was established that Laura Callahan’s doctorate was obtained from Hamilton University, a known ‘diploma mill’. That is a so-called educational establishment that offers diplomas and doctorates to students after little or no study. Subsequent investigation discovered that a minimum of 28 other senior employees had obtained their qualifications from diploma mills. In other words, they were not suitably qualified for the jobs they were holding.
Diploma mills are commonplace, and Columbia State University, for example was shut down in 1998 after an advertising campaign offering degrees within 27 days! That was another diploma mill, and that is one of the reasons for education verification being so important.
The requirement for qualification has become very widespread, and it is little wonder that so many job applicants are tempted to at least overstate their qualifications if not downright lie. Most company positions now require an education qualification of some form or another, and if you search for ‘fake degrees’ on Google you will find several pages offering them. It’s a problem.
The temptation to provide false educational credentials is overwhelming since the rewards for success in fooling your potential employer can be high. The General Accounting Office reported in 2004 that up to 200,000 federal employees had falsified their resumes. These are the ones that were detected. How many more are there that were not detected, and how many in all occupations are involved, not just federal employees? So do not think that you are immune to this; you probably already have employees on your payroll that have falsified their resumes.
This is a serious problem, and a breach of faith on the part of the employees who do this, especially where the knowledge provided in studying for a degree is necessary in the job, and its absence could affect all of the other employees in the company. It is also a serious error on the part of the employers who offer them employment without carrying out suitable education verification.
As more and more qualifications, diplomas and degrees are requested for more and more jobs where previously they were not required, education verification becomes increasingly important. Candidates are highly motivated to provide degrees, obtained by whatever means they can, and up to 20% of employers in the USA now require verification of diplomas and degrees from the college or university that awarded them.
Some universities offer an online verification service that involves providing the student with a password that they can pass on to a prospective employer. This provides the employer with a portal into the student’s records that confirm the qualification awarded. Although this does not address the problem of diploma mills, it at least provides some security. A list of accredited educational facilities would help reduce the need for full education verification and the issue of not knowing what is and is not a diploma mill.
Diploma mills may be breaking the law if they offer these diplomas to students in the knowledge that are being used for job applications, and the applicant is committing a criminal offense in many jurisdictions by presenting them. A federal law is required on this issue, and that would possibly help employers with this problem.
In the meantime, employers must not overlook education verification when carrying out employment background checks. It is easy to omit this essential factor of employee screening, but the employment of an unqualified nurse or doctor can be just as damaging as that of a shop floor employee with a record of violence. The cost to the employer could ultimately be considerably higher.
It should not be assumed that any qualification is genuine, and if a specific diploma or degree is required for a job, it should be verified that the candidate does indeed possess that, and that it has been awarded from a recognized educational or training establishment.
Education verification should be included in the employee screening that all companies should carry out, preferably by hiring a professional investigator to carry it out. It is too important and skilled a job to try yourself unless you have employees trained in how to carry out background checks, and the penalties for failure can be very high.
If you’re still not using any of the privacy settings on Facebook, here’s the most compelling reason why you need to change that as soon as possible.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given the thumbs up to Social Intelligence Corp, which keeps files of Facebook users’ posts as part of a background-checking service for screening job applicants.
The FTC decided Social Intelligence complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the same set of rules that keeps your bill-payment records on file with the consumer bureaus for seven years, according to Forbes.
That’s how long your social media postings remain in Social Intelligence’s records. Even if you delete an embarrassing photo or bawdy status update, the material could stay in your file for seven years, during which time it might be used against you if a prospective employer were to use the agency’s services to screen applicants.
This ups the ante on prospective employers simply Googling you or even looking for you on Facebook and other sites — by now, many job hunters know enough to clean up their profiles when looking for work. Social Intelligence would have the goods on you before you cleaned up your online act, dating back seven years.
We can only suspect that if Social Intelligence has the go-ahead to operate in this capacity, other start-ups might follow. That’s all the more reason to err on the safe side and use Facebook’s privacy settings to their fullest.
Readers, does learning about services like Social Intelligence make you want to recheck your security settings or start using them if you haven’t done so already?