With a recent report revealing an astounding 48 percent increase worldwide in the number of known fake diploma mills in the past year, and a 20 percent increase in the United States alone, education verifications where employers verify the academic achievements and certifications claimed by job applicants have taken on an important role in employment screening background checks.

According to the second annual Accredibase™ Report for 2011 from Verifile Limited, Europe’s leading background screening company, the United States was the world’s fake college capital and saw the number of known diploma mills rise from 810 to 1,008. California was the leading U.S. state with 147 known diploma mills, described as “largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation and recognition” in the report.

Since educational achievement can tell an employer a great deal about a job applicant’s ability, qualifications, and motivation, many employers feel that educational credentials and qualifications are an important part of their decision making process in hiring and are a critical factor in predicting success on the job. For some positions, education is even a prerequisite in terms of subject matter knowledge or appropriate license for the job.

However, close to one-third of job applicants may be less than truthful about their educational backgrounds, including outright fabrications such as making up degrees from legitimate schools they never attended or claiming degrees from schools they attended but did not graduate from, says Lester Rosen, CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a nationwide background screening firm headquartered in the San Francisco area.

“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,” claims Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide to employment screening background checks. “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 United States. With these ‘fake diplomas,’ anyone can instantly ‘graduate’ from nearly any school in America.”

Adding to the challenge, Rosen says some degree mills have even created fake accreditation agencies to falsely vouch for the phony 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) at http://www.chea.org/.  The U.S. government has also created a web site where employers can look up a school to determine if and how it is accredited at www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx.

A frequent speaker on safe hiring issues, Rosen will present an educational session at the 2011 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition titled ‘Legal and Effective Reference Checking and Education Verification.’ The session will take place on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2011 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition will be held from June 26 to 29, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit http://annual.shrm.org/.

Rosen advises employers to not take educational accomplishments at face value without ensuring that the job applicant actually has obtained the degree, and that the degree is from a legitimate educational institution. To read ‘The Basics of Education Verifications’ by Lester Rosen, visit: https://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2009/12/16/the-basics-of-education-verifications/. For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at https://www.esrcheck.com.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information about ESR, visit https://www.esrcheck.com.