In any part of life where money changes hands, there is the opportunity for fraud and scams. We like to think we’d easily be able to spot someone ripping us off, or attempting to steal our identity. But is that really the case? The number of cases of fraud reported to the police are rising each year. So when it coms to DBS checks, what are the scams you should be looking out for?
The Scam Job Offer
From a candidate’s point of view, the first scam to be aware of is the risk of fake job postings. These can be hard to sort out from the genuine job postings. Often, the fraudster will reel you in with the promises of employment if you just pay for some training, certificates or a DBS check. This is where it can get tricky to work out what’s genuine. It is not illegal for employers to ask workers to pay for a DBS certificate. In some sectors, it’s standard practice. Other employers will ask you to pay up front, and then will reimburse the cost in your first pay packet. Remember also that not all jobs require a DBS check anyway. Most office jobs, and jobs in retail or the hospitality sector don’t need a disclosure. If you are being told that a disclosure is essential for this sort of role, and what’s more you have to pay for it, alarm bells should be ringing.
The Safer jobs website has been set up by law enforcement and government to give unbiased advice on all sorts of legal issues affecting recruitment practices. On the website you’ll find a huge amount of advice about looking for a job and coping with the recruitment process.
The Scam Candidate
On the employer’s side, the opposite issue applies. Sometimes, the people who come forward as job applicants might not be who they say they are. Most candidates are genuine, but you can save yourself a lot of time and effort if you can weed out the fakers and the time-wasters early on in the process. The first check is that someone is legally in the UK, and most employers will ask candidates to bring their passport or other proof of identity to interview with them. Check nationality at the start of the day; there’s no point interviewing someone who can’t prove they have the right to work in the UK. This is one occasion where it’s not worth giving someone the benefit of the doubt. There are penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.
Related to the issue of illegal workers are problems with fake documents. This particularly applies when workers require a DBS check. An essential part of the DBS process is showing a range of documentary proof of where you live and who you are. Employees will be asked to bring a range of items such as their passport, driving licence, utility bills, bank statements or HMRC paperwork. Nobody expects everyone working in recruitment to be an expert in spotting forged paperwork. But care has to be taken when looking at originals. Anything which doesn’t look right should be referred for separate checking. There’s lots of guidance online through the Gov.UK site about checking documents, giving hints and tips about what to look for to help you spot the real from the fake. Don’t forget to check the pictures on any documents you are given against the appearance of the person in front of you.
Fake DBS Certificates
The DBS process has been set up to try to eliminate any problems with candidates mocking up a fake certificate on the home computer and presenting that instead of a genuine one. Unless a candidate is enrolled in the Update service, a new DBS application is made for each new job the candidate takes on. Employers will not just accept a previous DBS certificate issued for a previous job, especially not at the standard or enhanced level. The one gap in the system is that certificates are sent out to the applicant and not to the employer, so in theory there is the possibility that the candidate alters the certificate before showing it to you. However, if you are in recruitment and look at dozens of DBS certificates over the course of a year, you should be able to pick up when something isn’t right. Employers are also free to call the DBS helpline for advice should they need to.
Will Update Cut Down on Fraud?
One of the main advantages of the DBS Update service is that it should help cut down on fraud within the DBS market. DBS Update is an online service, where people register to join a database after having their first DBS check issued. The database is then updated whenever new information is loaded onto the police computer about a member. This means that the system is always current. An applicant or their employer can log into the system to look at current information whenever they wish. As there is not the repeated need to apply for new checks and show new documents, there should be less chance to commit fraud too.
Keeping on Top of Fraud
Clever fraudsters always like to keep one step ahead of the general public. They are always coming up with new ways to get money out of us or get goods they aren’t entitled to. You can’t be expected to know every scam and fraud going. However, when you’re applying for a new job, or recruiting workers, it makes sense to take extra care. If an employment agency contacts you out of the blue with an amazing opportunity, ask lots of questions. Do some research online, and check websites like Safer Jobs to make yourself aware of the latest scams. If you’re an employer and think you’re being shown fake documents in an attempt to get work, then the police or Action Fraud will be happy to give advice on what to do.