How Not to Beat the System

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Academic credentials are a crucial component in influencing hiring decisions in today's corporate environment. This increasing requirement for higher education has brought with it a rising number of fraudulent resumes. In a recent story, USANA Health Sciences Inc. learned just how far some applicants will go to get a job and the consequences a company may face due to a less than thorough employment screening investigation.

Denis E. Waitley, longtime director and spokesman of USANA, was recently ousted for misstating his academic credentials. The company paid a high price for this oversight as its stock fell 7% the day the news came out. Waitley listed claims of having a Master of Arts degree as well as a PhD in human development. After an investigation it was found that not only did he not have these credentials, but also the school from which he claimed to have acquired his Master's degree, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, had no record of him ever attending the school.

In more recent news, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dean of Admissions, Marilee Jones resigned after it was discovered that although she had claimed to have earned degrees from three schools during the course of her career, she may have never graduated from college at all.

Although these are more extreme cases, this type of deception occurs every day as employment applicants compete for jobs. Here are a few of our more interesting stories about some who have tried to get past HireRight, in order to beat the system:

A candidate for a job stated on his application that he received a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland. Our staff could not find any records of him attending the university. A HireRight employee contacted the applicant who explained that he attended the University of Maryland, but never actually enrolled. He stated that he went to school with his girlfriend every day, attending all of her classes for four years, therefore "earning" his degree. He then admitted that he had put the degree on his resume for the past 10 years but was never caught, and said, "You aren't going to tell the employer, are you?"

An applicant was asked to fax a copy of her diploma since her education credentials could not be verified directly with the institution. The woman stated that she would fax a copy of her bachelor's degree to HireRight. When the fax was inspected, it was quickly ascertained that the "Batchelor Degree" was self-created.

A researcher recently found that an institution had no record of a degree that an applicant claimed to have. Shortly after determining that the claim was false and reporting the result to the employer, the researcher received a direct call from a person claiming to be a records clerk from the educational institution. The caller claimed that he was calling to provide verification of the degree earned by the applicant. Since the verification was completed before the call came in, HireRight researched the phone number that the call came from and found it was actually the applicant's home phone number.

As employees and candidates continue to embellish and try to beat the system, it is ever-critical that employers conduct thorough background checks, including education verification and employment history verifications, to ensure a safe, honest and competent workforce.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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