In India’s rapidly growing IT arena, it is a common phenomenon for individuals to falsely claim valid certifications. The problem is becoming more acute as thousands of people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh regularly forge academic records and certificates. Aiding the spread of false certifications is the fact that there is no dearth of fake colleges and universities.
Owing to the fact that so many people carry false certificates, it is not an easy task to verify each and every person who applies for jobs, especially in the IT sector. In May 2015, pandemonium struck at the Kenya Ports Authority when hundreds of employees from low to top-levels faced scrutiny of their certifications. It was suspected that their certificates, used to help them garner jobs and promotions, were in fact fake.
In most metropolitan areas like Bangalore, known as India’s IT City, individuals can readily obtain fake certificates for any type of academic degree for as little as ₹5,000 ($75 U.S.). Cracking down on this fraud seems to be a losing battle. While the Police recently exposed a large racket providing fake mark sheets and certificates to applicants, there are still many smaller enterprises operating freely.
These rackets especially focus on those applicants who hold ENCR (emigration check not required) passports. According to authorities, it is not difficult to catch the con men who do this dirty job. The goal, however, is not to apprehend a few of these hustlers by getting hold of some blank-mark sheets — the goal is to find and seize the printing presses making them, a more difficult task.
In August 2015, police seized numerous fake Bangalore University mark-sheets and degree certificates. Most of them were for business administration, hotel management, and pharmacy bachelors and master’s degrees. The printer from which these genuine looking certificates were printed was also seized.
As per Passport officer Soumen Bagchi, “Such occurrences are extremely common especially among postal applications.” The police do attempt to cross check documents with respective universities, but due to staff shortages, it is impossible to check every forged document.
Bagchi did say that the police are well aware of all emblems belonging to Bangalore University and that this “prevents forged certificates from getting accepted as genuine.” Applicants caught with forged certificates and mark-sheets can expect to be penalized. Although first time offenders get off relatively easy with a fine of ₹5,000 ($75 U.S.), second time offenders may face imprisonment.
In India the risk of getting caught is actually higher than in many other countries. This is because if there is doubt, employers can demand to check certificates at any time. However, fake certifications have become so common that it is now imperative that IT companies cross check every employee, even those in senior positions.
In many instances, certificates and resumes may not be outright false, but can be misrepresentations. The most common types are when an employee highlights a short term diploma course as their main qualification, or provides false dates of employment in order to exaggerate work experience. Moreover, people often fabricate reasons for leaving previous jobs, or overstate bonuses and salaries from those jobs.
Rajeev Thakur, director of the executive search firm Grassik, New Delhi, explained the challenge as follows: “With intense competition for limited opportunities, people have started creating rogue resumes, lying about facts, hiding information or bloating up achievements.”
The gravity of the challenge can be understood from the fact that India has approximately 7,500 institutes that exist solely for providing fake job and academic certificates. People are even more encouraged to obtain fake certificates since most companies have a lackluster approach to cross-checking credentials due to time and manpower limitations.
With forged certificates becoming rampant, finding ways to detect them has become even more important. One such solution is digital badging which has already gained a lot of popularity as an easy and convenient way to sort fake certificates from genuine certificates. The badges also represent the skills and preferences of aspiring job seekers.
With digital badging, employers are able to verify the veracity of an employee’s certificates via social networking sites like LinkedIn with one easy click. In August 2014, Abode announced that it would issue badges to certified professionals through Pearson’s Acclaim digital badging service, an open badge standard developed by Mozilla Foundation. Currently, digital badges are issued only to those who have achieved the Adobe Certified Associate certification.
A more traditional route to verify credentials is via A.M.S. Inform (AMS). They offer a cost effective and efficient way to cross check an employee’s academic records, certificates and job experience. AMS works in affiliation with educational institutions, colleges and universities in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
AMS enables the filling of forms online with details about prospective employees. Verification of the details of the candidate’s education is then returned through email in a pdf format. With ease a busy employer can now verify the educational and training claims of a potential employee. The details that are needed for AMS verification are:
- Name of Candidate as per University, College or School
- Name and full address of University, College or School
- Dates attended or date of graduation
- Exact name of the degree earned like B.Sc./B.Com/B.A. etc.
- Roll Number/Registration Number/Hall Ticket Number
- Copy of Diploma, Certificate or Degree
- Copy of release or Authorization
Forged IT credentials are a growing concern in every country and India is no exception. The time, effort and money invested in hiring and removing an employee who misrepresents their credentials is significant. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the task. The most likely solution lies in the efforts of individual companies to deal with the problem in a manner that works best for them. By proper implementation of effective solutions such forgery can be curbed.