Many companies and organizations that need to verify an applicant’s credentials – be it education, professional license, driver’s license, work experience, or income – rely on proof submitted by the individual who is applying for whatever position the company or organization is attempting to fill. The position may be a job, a volunteer, a franchisee, a country club member, a tenant for a rental unit, or even a board of director for the organization or company.

Relying on any documentation submitted by the “interested party,” i.e., the actual applicant, is an extremely poor business practice that places the company or organization at significant risk. Based on decades of experience and real-life case studies, I know this to be true. As a CEO of a background screening company that has processed millions of transactions, we have documented instances that substantiate how verification with the original source, i.e., the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the university or college, the employer, state licensing board, the IRS (to verify tax returns), etc. is crucial if the veracity of the credential or document is to be reliably verified.

If one simply thinks rationally about the process of allowing an individual applicant to verify their own credentials, the conflict of interest alone would make any outside auditor cringe. Granted many people are very honest. Unfortunately many others embellish or blatantly present fraudulent documents to obtain the desired position to which they are applying.

Best practices require that credentials, work experience, and income, etc. be corroborated by contacting the original source. This verification should either be handled in-house by the company or organization, or it should be outsourced to an impartial third-party, such as a reliable background screening company (that is also a consumer reporting agency, adhering to the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act).

With the widespread availability of desktop publishing and websites that offer various “documents” for purchase – facilitating any individual being vetted to present their own documentation as proof of their credentials or experience – eventually will cause your company or organization to be duped at best, but at worse could cause significant and potentially irreparable harm to your company or organization.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi. President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening.