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Top Tips: How to Spot Fake Employee References

 Fake and falsified references are on the rise, and they pose a significant threat to businesses in all industries, including the finance and the public sector. But, do you know how to spot fake references and what to do if you encounter them? Susie Thomson shares her Top Tips...

*Originally posted on The HR Gazette

Falsified Information in Candidate Screening

In today’s competitive job market, many job seekers are resorting to providing fraudulent information during the hiring process. Reference checks are an integral part of the hiring process, but relying solely on the references supplied by candidates may not be enough to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information.

In this article, Matrix Security Watchdog's MD, Susie Thomson, shares her top tips with HRs on how to spot fake references and what to do if you encounter them.

Beware of the Risks

Falsified references and CVs can lead to unauthorised access to sensitive data, identity theft, and potential harm to your business. Be vigilant in all industries, especially in finance, where bank information and IT systems are at risk.

Watch for Discrepancies in Documents

Look out for inconsistencies in documents such as HMRC documents, bank statements, and payslips. Maintain a list of known fraudulent companies to cross-reference references. Pay attention to discrepancies in employment history especially the smaller, unprofessional companies.

Trust Human Judgment

Rely on experienced professionals who can spot irregularities in documents. If something seems suspicious, conduct a full review with a pre-employment screening expert and report concerns back to the candidate

Stay Updated with Fraud Trends

In the finance industry, participate in CIFAS forums and collaborate with other companies to stay informed about emerging issues. Regularly keep up to date with government and staffing industry reports and guidelines such as the Staffing Industry Analysts.

Use Early Detection

Apply a human-centric approach to reduce the acceptance rate of fraudulent candidates. Flag concerns early in the hiring process to help the hirer make informed decisions.

Legal and Ethical Challenges

Deal with legal threats diplomatically: When faced with legal threats or accusations, maintain open communication with the candidate. Involve your legal advisor early on and follow established processes to ensure compliance with regulations.

Stay Vigilant with Evolving Technology

In an evolving technological landscape, remain vigilant and transparent within your organisation. Knowledge-sharing of new tech and open communication are key to staying ahead of new fraudulent tactics.

Adapt to Changes in Job Markets

Share knowledge and trends: Promptly raise findings and share knowledge and trends within your organisation to stay informed and vigilant.

Implement Fraud Checks and Keep Registers Updated

Consider implementing a fraud check on all employees and regularly update registers to reduce the risk of falsified credentials and to set rules on falsified documents in any form.


Finally, there are pre-employment companies that can offer comprehensive checks: such as financial probity checks, CV checks, employment verification, and international checks. If in doubt I would advise employing these services to ensure a thorough examination of candidates’ backgrounds prior to signing any employment contract.

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