Background Verifications

The temptation of the little white lie!

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The other day I was asked by a close friend to help her update her resume. She wanted me to help her ‘beautify’ her CV. So we commenced on the otherwise straightforward task.

We began with the percentages and CGPAs which were easy to get done with. Then came the tricky task, she wanted me to help her key in some additional bullet points under her job description. Upon further questioning I realized, she didn’t really know much about what she was asking me to incorporate. Upon further probing, I figured out she just wanted me to put them there to increase her job description’s scope. She really didn’t handle any of what she wanted me to put in writing. Upon explaining to her that this could land her into trouble, she laughed it off, saying – No one really checks the minute details.

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I was shell shocked! Here was someone whom I knew very closely and she had the audacity to fib and lie on her resume. Over and above that, she totally refuted my fears of her getting into trouble owing to this.

Here was a smart, educated, independent individual falsifying/ beautifying her resume, in short, outright lying on her resume. Where’s the line between a harmless white lie and serious falsehood? Is it OK to lie on your resume? Is it OK to falsify a few facts here and there?

The answer has been and will always be – NO!

Lying at the most, may get you a job, but tomorrow when detailed verification is undertaken, you will surely land yourself in a big mess. So think again! Desperate times do call for desperate measures but not this way. These fibs are potential causes for an employer to show you the door; even months or years after you have been hired. Please make note almost every hiring manager has found a lie on a resume and discarded the application.

According to a survey by Career Builder, 50% of resumes contain lies. These lies are exaggerations, embellishing skills, lying about work experiences and fibbing about hobbies and interests.

Mentioned below are the top resume lies:-

• Stretching dates of employment period
• Inflating skills and accomplishments
• Enhancing titles and designations
• Fabricating degrees and exaggerating educational credentials
• Providing false references
• Giving a false address to avoid detection of criminal history
• Employment gaps

Recently a survey was conducted wherein they spoke to 3,587 participants who were looking for employment. Here are the results of the survey:-

• 96% admitted to lying on their resume
• 83% said they still got the job
• 43% stated that their lie directly contributed to them bagging the role.
• 96% of CV liars said they would do it again
• 37% revealing they would be prepared to tell a “big lie” to get their dream job.

For the employers
Please invest in extensive background verification checks to combat the above mentioned pests! We need to weed out these unwanted pests/weeds from our workplaces. Verify every credential in the resume before hiring – Employment, Education, Reference, Address, Criminal history and IDs. These fraudsters feed on our ignorance and short sightedness. Please make note there are close to 7,500 companies in India (ballpark figure), which operate just for providing fake employment certificates and educational certificates. So please grill every applicant during the interview process and assign the verification to a trusted competent third party vendor who is a specialist in employee verification. Remember the cost of a ‘bad hire’ is five times the employee’s annual salary!

For applicants
First impressions do matter, especially for job applicants however trying to catch your interviewer’s attention with a lie is like digging your own grave. If you want to build a powerful resume focus on your actual achievements and accomplishments; if you have none, go get them! Invest your time and money in pursuing courses/diplomas and degrees! Purchasing degrees/diplomas will get you nowhere. In case you’ve landed a job, don’t be pleased with yourself; it’s just a matter of time, your game’s going to be busted!

A lie is a lie, white or not!

Employee Background Verification – Quarterly Discrepancy Statistics

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Here are the high level quarterly discrepancy statistics covering the months of January’18, Feburary’18 and March 2018.

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We observed that 1.5% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

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Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in Employment verification (accounting for 84.2% of the total discrepancy) and Education verification (15.8% of the total discrepancy).

From the above it’s clearly evident that the major concern areas are education verification and employment verification. These are two checks employers should focus on!

It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Fake Resume can cost you!

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It’s a story about a crow.

This crow was in search of some food when he spotted some pigeons eating grains. It was a big field and lots of grains were there, just lying on the floor. This crow came down and started eating with them.

When the pigeons saw the crow and realized that he is also eating their food, they discussed with the other pigeons about how this black bird is different from them. The pigeons decided that this black bird should not eat with them. As a result, they attacked the crow with their beaks.

The crow hurriedly flew away.

But he didn’t give up! He saw some white colour powder in a big vessel. He quickly went there and rolled in the colour so that he is coloured white.

The crow thought; now that he looks a little like the white pigeons, the pigeons will let him eat the grains.

The crow silently joined and started eating. This time the pigeons discussed that the bird looked like them, but his walk! Oh well, that was very different. They again attacked the crow.

The crow flew away! But again, he thought if only he could go to that field, he can easily get so much food without any hard work. So, he didn’t give up. He started practicing the pigeon walk and also learnt how to eat like them.
When he learnt the new skills, he went to the field.

This time, the pigeons were unaware that a crow was eating with them. His colour was white and his walking style and eating style was exactly like a pigeon.

The crow was extremely happy with his new fake identity, now he was getting enough food to eat.

Just a few days later, when he was eating grains together with other pigeons, he saw a flock of crow; they were cawing and flying high in the sky. The crow was so happy to see the other crows and he also started to caw with them.
When the pigeons found out that their look-alike is actually a crow, they got very furious and attacked the crow and injured it real bad.

In real life, very often we face similar situations. A pigeons is any organization and the crow is any candidate who tries to beautify their resumes. Till when can you hide the truth?

5aprilMost of the times, the truth is uncovered during background verification and if at all the candidates covers it up with the fake learnt skills, well, eventually, the truth is uncovered.

If any job requires a certain years of experience in a certain skill, be sure they would find out in no time whether you are a skilled candidate or a novice. Once the truth is uncovered, it’s bad for the candidate/employee. By all this faking up, you may cause a bad damage to your career graph.

Your promotion may be halted or worse, you may be shown the door and even blacklisted from the organization.

If your calibre is of a crow or a pigeon or an eagle, you present that as your strength. Take a harder route to find the right place to fit in according to your capability. Faking in your resume means you are going to jeopardize your own career graph. Faking in resumes is not worth it! What do you say?

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for March 2018

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for March 2018.

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We observed that 4.9% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

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Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in Employment verification (accounting for 80% of the total discrepancy) and Education verification (20% of the total discrepancy).

Who is going to pay the price?

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Once there lived a group of monkeys on mangroves near a village. There were a lot of youngsters among the group who played around and spent their time happily. The villagers never had any problem with the monkeys and things were running smooth for both – the monkeys and the villagers.

One day, a new monkey family came and started living with the existing monkeys. They all became friends. The new family had a very naughty little monkey. This little monkey befriended all the other little monkeys. He started teaching naughty tricks to other small monkeys – like snatching and stealing things from the villagers and troubling them.

Life for the villagers became very difficult because of the monkeys and after a while it was intolerable, the villagers’ called the zoo-keepers. They came and caught most of the monkeys and they put the monkeys in the zoo cages. Of course, a few escaped, but there were many who regretted the action of the one new little monkey who joined the monkey gang. They lost their freedom. They could just be sorry and sad. Harm was already done.

A few employees, a few LoUs and a fraud of thousands of crores. This is not it. After the fraud was out in public, just in one week, the stock of the company had lost nearly 28 per cent. The loss due to falling of stocks were almost equal to the fraud amount.

23rd marchHeads of the organization and a golden handshake with the third party auditors, left many jobless and a huge fraud surfaced. Of course, the company was closed after the huge fraud, but do you know what price the auditing company had to pay due to few of its employees?

The Indian arm of PwC was fined $6 million by the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) for not following the code of conduct and auditing standards in the performance of its duties related to the auditing of the accounts of Satyam Computer Services.

Not only this, this scam happened in 2009, but on 11th January 2018, SEBI had found PwC guilty in the Satyam scam and barred its network entities from issuing audit certificates to any listed company in India for two years.

These “few mischievous employees”, do lose their jobs and probably they are blacklisted from most of the organizations, but who pays the real price of any fraud/scams/wrongdoings?

The company, indeed!

No company would want to be in such a soup, then why shy away from stringent background verification during recruitment and repetitive verifications during promotions.

The company’s goodwill is at stake, are we in a position to sabotage that? Isn’t it better to just be extra sure when it comes to every employee? There are different kinds of verifications available and of course, it all comes with a price. Just that, it depends on the organization, which price they want to pay – the verification costs or the goodwill loss cost! What do you say!


Protect your company’s reputation from the risk of the ‘Employee’

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“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin

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We have witnessed over the years, reputations of numerous companies being marred, damaged and in some cases destroyed beyond repair as a result of actions or inactions by the companies’ executives and employees.

Your employees represent your company! The customer looks at an associate representing your organization and directly associates the organization with that associate. So, it’s imperative we have the right people, at the right place doing the right thing.

One disgruntled associate can destroy a company’s brand forever. They can lead the organization to loss of revenue, loss of clients and in some cases even have legal consequences.

“We built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with our consumers. Because we believed the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers was to hire and train great people, we invested in our employees.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks Chairman and CEO.

Employees are an organization biggest asset. Leveraging this asset leads to millions; an asset going bad can lead to losses and lawsuits. For this very reason, employers must ensure that those that they get onboard fit with the organizations culture and are really, who they say they are. Pro-activity can easily defuse a situation before it builds into a storm; after all, nothing churns the news cycle like a scandal.

Some of the scandals which costs companies dearly are – BP’s multi million gallon oil spill, Uber Delhi rape case, Maruti Gurgaon worker violence, PNB scam, Rotomac scam – the list is endless.

This is where background verification comes into the picture. It’s imperative to be proactive to mitigate any sort of risk to your reputation/brand value. Employment screening plays an important role in a reputation management program. The first step in my opinion in reputation management is – employee background screening. We have to put in place policies/Standard Operating Procedures to weed out potential employees who may go and pose as a ‘reputational risk’.

Background verification helps in creating a safer workplace. Through criminal checks we can help weed out employees who have had a run in with the law. We can ascertain through records, employees who have had criminal or civil cases against them. Employment verification and reference checks helps find people with skills that complement the organization. They help ascertain the right candidate after all not only the fit but the cultural fit is essential too.

Going further companies should along with medical tests incorporate drug testing in their pre employment process. Credit score checks also ought to be done to ascertain the financial health of individuals and corporates. In the case of a known embezzler a CIBIL/criminal background check will enable the management in safeguarding their company assets.

Today thanks to the internet and social media, everything is viewed under a microscope, analyzed, judged and dissected. As a result the chances of reputational dents are also much higher. I recently read three KFC workers were fired for bathing in bikinis in a restaurant sink. It doesn’t end there; they put up their photos on the internet, for the world to see. To minimize these sorts of risks, some companies have started carrying out periodic social media scans on their employees. They have instituted social media policies, establishing guidelines for how employees should and should not conduct themselves while using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Companies like Ford Motor Company, has clearly instructed their employees to clarify on their social media posts that their posts express only their own views and not the views of the company.

Mentioned below are some checks we recommend to you:-
• Criminal verification
• ID Check
• Address verification
• Employment verification
• Drug testing
• Credit score check
• Social media scan

Your brand reputational value is irreplaceable. Protect it!

Do not let your ‘guard’ down!

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The urbanization of towns and cities has led to swanky office complexes, malls, restaurants and fancy residential complexes mushrooming up. They provide excellent amenities and there is a definite feel good factor to them. However, when I visit a lot of the aforementioned places, I feel, while we go to great lengths ensuring the ‘feel good’ factor is taken care of, we sometimes overlook the basics. Even Maslow’s hierarchy of needs emphasizes that only once we achieve one level, do we move upwards. Our most basic need is that of security.

When I enter a lot of places, I find guards sleeping, lazing around, looking disinterested, bored, busy on their mobile phones, chit chatting around and generally whiling away their time. Isn’t security supposed to be serious business? Aren’t these people whom we entrust our security upon supposed to be vigilant, alert, fit and most important trust worthy?

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How confident are you about the security agency guarding your house, office, child’s school or college? Was it hired because it came cheap? Was the guard’s background check done? Does he have a criminal past? Chances are high that the guards’ background has not been vetted and they have no training whatsoever to do what they are supposed to be doing.

Even today, most guards do not have background checks done on them. Those who run security businesses and are in charge of supplying manpower need to be very careful about whom they hire. People’s lives could be at stake and properties worth a large amount of money are involved.

Is the guard at your society, kid’s school, kid’s activity centre, tuition centre verified? Shouldn’t the guards employed around have clean records? How would we know? Just because the guards wishes you and brings up his hand to his forehead to greet you every morning and evening doesn’t guarantee a clean background.

There’s a rising demand for security guards, a highly unorganized market, fly-by-night operators and lack of background checks leads to poor quality service and serious concerns of safety. In a lot of criminal cases, the perpetrators are enabled by these same guards. These guards have very often been caught providing information which helps in the crime. In many cases, the crimes have been committed by these very guards. Crimes involving security guards are increasingly on the rise in India.

Just recently in Bangalore, a watchman, employed a week ago, cut an apartment’s window grill and got in when the family was away. Look at the irony – hired to guard the house, the same person does the exact opposite. The family lost valuables and gold worth INR 32 lakhs.

I strongly recommend each of you reading this to ensure that the guards around you have had their backgrounds verified. Their addresses need to be checked, IDs need to be vetted and their criminal background checks need to be done.

Better to be safe than sorry! Like I said earlier, don’t let your guard down!

Background verification – for Banks

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India woke up to a fraud of eleven thousand and five hundred crore rupees. What a big number, with seven zeros at the end. That too, from a bank, which was government owned, a public sector bank.

If we understand this whole fiasco in simple terms:

There was an employee in a bank, Mr X. He was at a managerial position, which had a lot of authoritative magnitude attached to its position. Plus, he was very close to the heads of the organization, which trusted this employee with their secret passwords; which generated the Letter of Undertakings.

Now, these LoUs are very powerful documents. This is given only after strict invigilation and audits.

The trust was breached. Unauthorised LoUs were rolled out and this small action led to a fraud of thousands of crores of rupees and an irreversible loss of goodwill.

Time to question the public sector organizations – are we doing stringent background verification – during recruitment and during appraisals? Do you know your own employees?

I guess not!

In September 2005, the central bank had cited cases of technological mishaps, which resulted in losses of money and damaged the lenders’ reputation. The knock of possible fraud was there and the importance was following the ‘Know your Employees (KYE)’ norms was realised, but it was quite short lived.

A know your employees process does a background check during recruitment and after it as well. If only we follow the same in a very strict manner, we can avail the advantages of it and will curb the financial and the goodwill loss.

Here is one question in my mind –

Why can’t we do financial background verification for all the top position holders or those who sit at key authoritative positions?

120318We can find the following answers:

• Tax paid
• Negative accounts paid
• Active accounts including open loans
• Accounts paid according to terms
• Inquiries made by 3rd parties

The employees should always be made aware that such verifications do take place once in a while. The organization will be aware of the financial state of the employee and if there is anything suspicious then it must be looked into on an immediate note.

If such background verification was done for our Mr X, within the time, we would have got the culprit and financial and goodwill loss would have been a little less damaging.

Public sector banks employ a huge number. Of course, having financial background verification for all is not feasible, but for the top level, it can be done and it may save a lot of financial and brand image loss for the organizations. What’s do you say?

Lies on your resume can ‘haunt’ you!

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Blog ImageDid you know that according to a SHRM survey more than 53% of job applicants lie to some extent on their resumes?

We have seen a reported case of Wipro that had fired some employees for lying on their resumes. Police complaints had been filed against head hunting agencies helping them. Such incidents have also been reported in IBM. Does this fibbing only take place at the lower rungs? David Edmondson, CEO – Radio Shack, admitted to lying on his CV about his educational credentials. He was asked to step down by the board of directors.

So, lie on your resume at your own risk! Even a small fib could be the cause for an employer to show you the door, even months or years after you were hired.

Why do candidates lie? In today’s current scenario job markets are so fiercely competitive; it tempts candidates to fabricate their credentials. So, is it really a big deal, after all, if you misrepresent your experience, fabricate your job qualifications, exaggerate your education? Well, yes? Being an employee working at a background verification company, I can vouch for the fact that employers are getting tougher when it comes to cross-checking information. They want to be sure and ensure they are making the right decision.

Recently, a CareerBuilder survey reported on what job seekers tried to get away with most often:
• Embellished skill sets
• Embellished responsibilities
• Dates of employment
• Job titles
• Academic degrees

Let’s learn from others mistakes! Here are some examples of people who paid a heavy price.

Plan to lie about where and when you worked? Think again! These fibs are cause for an employer to show you the door; even months or years after you were hired. Tegan Acree, Director – Human Resources and Training for Nuance Communications, shared a story from a company where she previously worked. The organization hired a high-level executive who claimed on his resume he had worked on Wall Street. When the employee underperformed and his employer became suspicious, a few calls revealed he had forged all of his experience. In fact, he was working for three different companies at the same time. Needless to say, he was soon working for one company less.

Another category in this genre is the – ‘Lies of omission’. Lisa Rangel, Managing Director – Chameleon Resumes and a former recruiter, recalls a candidate for a position in the legal department of a media company who never completed the degree listed on her resume. When the candidate was confronted she retorted that she was never explicitly asked whether she earned the degree or not. I don’t need to mention further. Her fate is but obvious.
Lying about your degree can also come back to haunt you – even in the unlikely event that no one notices right away. A dean at MIT, yes the prestigious MIT, resigned her post after working there for 28 years when the university audited its files and learned she did not have degrees from the three schools listed on her initial resume. Candidates, please enhance your credentials – for real!

In case you have done any of the above or have come up with a new trick to enhance your resume. Don’t worry, there is still hope. Mentioned below are a few options on what to do, if your resume contains something other than the truth:

A. Get up and update your resume right away – Off course, there are no guarantees that you will get the job or even get shortlisted. But you could update your resume – erase the lies, update the truthful facts and tell the HR person that you noticed some typo errors on your resume and would like to resubmit an updated copy.

B. Come out in the open and tell the truth – Another option is to tell the hiring manager the truth, which will probably cost you your prospective employment. Nevertheless, at least you won’t be hired based on a lie and won’t have to be anxious about someone discovering the lie.

C. Withdraw your application – Another alternative is to withdraw your job application. You don’t have to give an explanation as to why. You can simply express thanks to the employer for the invitation and say you won’t be able to join them due to personal reasons. You have evidently lost your prospect of getting the job; however this is the safest option if you don’t want to give explanation or to have to deal with the consequences of lying.

Lying on your resume can come back to haunt you, sometimes even many years down the road. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead of lying, be tactful and market yourself creatively. So cheers to all those honest job seekers out there, you make the hiring world a better place to be in! For my friends who have lied and now regret, I have given you a few options to choose from. It’s never too late, to come back on the right track, it’s never too late to demonstrate integrity! Finally, for those who have lied on their resume and feel it’s worth taking the risk – God be with you, my friend!

Employee Background Verification – Discrepancy Statistics for February 2018

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Here are the high level monthly discrepancy statistics for February 2018.

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We observed that 0.4% of the overall number of cases had discrepancies (could be major or minor).

Next, let us look at the breakup of the discrepancies to identify further which types of components (checks) were the source of these discrepancies. These discrepancies were in employment verification (accounting for 100% of the total discrepancy).

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