Doublecheck references with social media

Employers are being urged to use social media to combat the problem of fake references. The advice comes from Keith Rosser, chair of SAFERjobs, the recruitment industry body tasked with tackling employment fraud.

Fri, 2 May 2014

Employers are being urged to use social media to combat the problem of fake references. The advice comes from Keith Rosser, chair of SAFERjobs, the recruitment industry body tasked with tackling employment fraud.

Rosser tells Recruiter that “a lot of companies” are now using social media to confirm what candidates are saying about their work histories through their references. Often, he says, candidates “will say something else on social media to what they are saying in their work histories”.

Rosser’s advice comes after a BBC television programme revealed that almost one in five small companies had discovered candidates with fraudulent references.

The programme in BBC1’s Fake Britain series found that fraudulent references were a problem at all levels of the workforce. Based on the results of a survey by the corporation and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) commissioned for the programme, 40% were for entry-level positions, 40% for mid-level positions, 12% for management positions, and 2% were for director level jobs.

The programme also reported that seven out of 10 (71%) of small business owners are unaware of websites, which offer to provide fake references.

Rosser tells Recruiter that he is not surprised by the scale of the problem revealed in the programme, and highlights the potential dangers to employers of taking on people who provide fake references.  
 
“The reason people are going to these lengths to get false references is that they have something to hide, perhaps their HR disciplinary history, or a period of unemployment, or sometimes worse,” he says.

Keith_Rosser

“I have seen cases in the past where candidates have deliberately covered up a short prison sentence by providing a fake reference for that period.”

In addition to using social media, Rosser offers the following advice to companies wishing to weed out false references:

  • always go an organisation’s head office for a reference and not to a local branch
  • only accept references from a verified email address, for example tesco.com not from Hotmail or Google email accounts
  • telephone the referee on a registered telephone number taken from the company’s website
  • for high risk sectors, such as health, verify the reference by asking for a company stamp, a compliment slip, or an official letterhead

      
Mike Cherry, national policy chairman, Federation of Small Businesses: says: “To see the scale of fraudulent referencing taking place is shocking, as getting the wrong candidate can have a catastrophic impact on smaller companies.

“With nearly one in five of our members having received applications with bogus references, it is clear that small businesses must be on their guard about this kind of fraud and take steps to check the employment history of candidates.”

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