According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), bogus or fake claims of degrees or other related credentials (such as certifications and licensures) can compromise an organization’s credibility. Worse, the risk ladened-danger of placing an unqualified person in a position of responsibility could leave your organization liable if the employee’s actions harm someone, are so negligent that it yields a lawsuit, or could irreparably damage a relationship with a customer or client.
There are additional reasons, and ways, to assess a candidate’s education, certifications, and licenses. If there are unconfirmed, or false claims made of degrees, etc., then there may be other concerns not yet uncovered regarding your candidate that should slow the process down. Here are some additional red flags that we recommend being the lookout for:
Degrees that are out of sequence.The degrees provided by a candidate should follow the proper progression that most degrees are earned. For example, a high school degree should be followed by a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree would then be followed by a master’s, doctoral or other advanced degrees. If you see these degrees out of order, or notice an overlap between two, you should do some additional investigation. Abbreviated degree timelines. In most cases, authentic certified degrees take a certain length of time to earn. Undergraduate degrees are generally earned in three to five years, while a master’s degree can be completed in one or two years. Degrees earned in a noticeably brief period, or several degrees listed for the same year, are red flags that should be looked into.
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Schools and previous job locations not matching up. If a candidate worked full-time while attending school, check the locations of the job to ensure they mesh with where the location of school the potential hire was attending. If the candidate did not live in the same geographical region as the school, check to see if the degree is from an accredited distance learning institution. If the degree is not from a legitimate online institution, the degree may be from a “diploma mill.’ Degrees from these schools are not legitimate and should not be accepted as proof of qualified education. Sound-alike school names. The FTC reports that some diploma mills utilize names for their institution that sound or look like those of well-known colleges or universities. If the institution has a name similar to a well-known school, but is located in a different state, thoroughly check its validity.
Foreign or international institutions. Should your organization come across a degree from an institution with a prestigious-sounding foreign name, the same verification process should take place. At times, your organization may have to put additional effort into verifying the legitimacy of an international institution. Researching the legitimacy of foreign schools can sometimes be a challenge, but it is worth looking into, as this is a common method used by candidates looking to falsely claim that they possess the proper qualifications.