One of the many downsides of the current job market is that the pandemic has created ideal conditions for anyone who is out to scam job seekers. The scams are numerous and will usually involve employers asking for money for a training course, or accreditation, or as an “administration fee”. The mention of paying out money before starting work should always ring alarm bells. However, when it comes to one of the most common scams, asking workers to pay for a DBS or disclosure check, the grain of truth around payment makes it an even cleverer scam.


Who Needs a DBS?

Scammers know that healthcare workers at every level from ward orderlies to hospital consultants are in high demand at the moment. Often, the scammer targets the carer sector, claiming to operate as an agency providing work. At present, it’s even easier for scammers as applicants don’t expect to go int an office for an interview; everything is being done over video link. Any scammer can easily set themselves up in their spare room, put on smart clothes, and market themselves as a job agency. Healthcare workers do need a DBS check, so it should come as no surprise if any job agency asks an applicant to fill in forms and get a certificate.


Paying for a DBS Check

Although the general rule is never to pay a job agency for checks before starting work, DBS certificates are a different matter. There is a cost associated with applying for a DBS check, and there is no law which says that this cost must be borne by the employer. It’s perfectly legal to ask workers to pay for their own DBS check. However, this usually happens at the stage of being offered a job, rather than at the application stage. At present, DBS checks for people who work in the healthcare sector are being processed free of charge, but there is no guarantee that this scheme won’t be withdrawn at some point in the future, and without much notice.

So, the main point is as follows – it’s not illegal for any employer to ask you to pay for your DBS certificate, and it’s standard practice in many industries. But if you’ve not been given many details about the work being offered, if the agency only has a mobile number as a contact and you don’t know anyone else who has successfully obtained a job through them, then alarm bells should be ringing.


Can’t I Get My Own DBS Check?

The obvious way around this appears to be to get candidates to obtain their own DBS checks, but this isn’t possible in many cases. Only the least detailed level of criminal records check, known as a basic disclosure, can be obtained by individuals. This certificate will only show an individual’s current convictions and cautions, and not more distant information. Standard and enhanced checks offer a greater level of detail and can only be obtained through an umbrella body or a large employer such as the NHS.