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New graduates ‘risk their futures’ by lying on job applications, warns UK fraud prevention service


Young people are being warned of the consequences of lying on job applications as thousands of recent graduates enter the job market and make their first attempts to get on the career ladder.

Don’t finish your career before it starts is a new publication by Cifas – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service and is targeted at students and graduates. It aims to inform young people about job application fraud and dispel the myth that lying on a CV is harmless, acceptable and even expected when looking for work. In fact, applicants who submit false or exaggerated information run the risk of dismissal, a criminal record and even imprisonment, as real-life examples featured in the publication show.  


No idea she had committed a criminal offence’

‘Ignorance isn’t an excuse if you’re caught out,’ says Simon Dukes, Chief Executive Officer of Cifas. ‘One young woman whose case features in the publication said she had no idea she had committed a criminal offence after wrongly claiming to have two A-levels and making up false references. She was still jailed for six months.’

The first in a planned series educating young people about fraud and how to protect themselves, the publication has been sent to universities and their careers services across the UK.

Simon stresses that the aim is not to portray young people as fraudsters and liars, but to educate them in the risk they are taking if they are tempted to embellish their experience and achievements, as Cifas research shows that many are simply unaware that job application fraud is even a crime. ‘We understand that it is a tough job market and that even the most honest graduate may feel a lot of pressure to make his or her CV stand out from the crowd, but it’s better to be straightforward and keep your integrity. Not only do employers value these qualities highly, but they are essential for career success.’


‘Employers do check information’

Steve Girdler of HireRight, a global background screening firm, agrees. ‘Complacency can be common in graduates who often hear in the media or from peers that it is standard practise to inflate claims on a CV. However employers do check information that’s been provided by candidates, especially in graduate roles where there can be little to choose between different candidates. If, for instance, an error is found in employment or education details or that the telephone number for a reference belongs to a friend, then it could be the difference between getting to the next stage of the recruitment process or being sent home.’

Cifas also wants to spread awareness of its Internal Fraud Database, which allows organisations who are members of Cifas to record cases of actual or attempted job application fraud and fraud committed with in employment (such as stealing money, as well as bribery and corruption), and to check their own job applications against the database. That means if the applicant attempts to gain employment with other member organisations after being recorded to the database, then their previous fraudulent application will be uncovered – even if their most recent application is genuine.

‘Members have to meet strict standards of proof to place a person on the database and just because you are on the database does not mean that you will be automatically rejected for a role,’ says Sophie Keen, Internal Fraud Recruitment Manager. ‘But it usually means your application will be scrutinised very closely and once the record has been filed it remains there for six years. Six years of being on file as a potential fraudster at the start of your career can have very serious consequences for your future.’

‘Because our Internal Fraud Database can save organisations of all sizes a significant amount of money and time, new organisations are joining all the time and it is important that people are aware it exists and what it could mean for them.’

Don’t finish your career before it starts has had a very positive response since its release. Helen Kempster, Careers Consultant for The Careers Group, University of London, and currently based at Goldsmiths, said: “It can be tempting to tell a ‘white lie’ but this leaflet makes students aware that there can be serious legal repercussions.  If they feel their CV or application lacks something, we encourage them to reflect on the skills they’ve gained through work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities, and support them in finding more experience if they need it.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. Cifas is the UK's Fraud Prevention Service – providing the UK's most comprehensive databases of confirmed fraud data, as well as an extensive range of fraud prevention services, to 300 organisations from the public and private sectors. Organisations share fraud information in order to prevent fraud and come from a variety of sectors including banking, grant giving, credit card, asset finance, retail credit, mail order and online retail, insurance, saving, telecommunications, factoring, share dealing, vetting agencies, contact centres and insurance brokering sectors. Cifas is unique and was the first data sharing scheme of its type in the world. Other schemes modelled on Cifas have been set up in Southern Africa and Germany.
  2. Information about the Cifas Internal Fraud Database is available online
  3. A copy of Don’t finish your career before it starts is available to download.