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Criminal record check frauds still going unreported, say experts

3 Jul 2018 By Hayley Kirton

‘Distressing’ scams see jobseekers asked to pay for bogus background checks

More than 100 frauds take place each year that involve people shelling out for criminal records checks that are never performed or jobs that don’t exist, official statistics have shown.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are used by employers to inspect the criminal history of people they plan on hiring. The service offers three types of checks, ranging from basic – which show unspent convictions and conditional cautions and are suitable for any role – to enhanced, which show a wider range of information and are used in jobs involving work with children and vulnerable adults. 

According to figures from Action Fraud seen by People Management, 138 incidences of people being asked to pay upfront for DBS certificates that never materialised were reported between April 2017 and March 2018. This figure is down slightly – 4 per cent – on 144 incidences reported the year before.

However, experts told People Management that the true extent of such frauds could be far greater than the official figures suggested. "Many people either do not report or do not know where to report to," said Keith Rosser, chair of SAFERjobs. "Additionally, when people do report, they may not specifically mention DBS checks or that it was a recruitment fraud, so the incident may be recorded as something else."

A spokesperson for Action Fraud added: “Although we have seen an increase in reporting numbers, fraud and cybercrime, including job-related fraud, continue to be under-reported and the number of reports to Action Fraud do not reflect the true scale of crimes that occur.”

Action Fraud advises job candidates to research their offer thoroughly to make sure it is genuine if they are asked to part with money for security checks. It also encourages people to be sceptical if they are approached with an enticing job offer out of the blue or if the person they are dealing with insists everything must be done online without face-to-face meetings. 

DBS scams were highlighted in the latest edition of DBS News, which was published by the service last month. In this, Dr Sue Smith, director of safeguarding at the DBS, said: “This sort of scam can be really distressing for those involved and we are keen to do all we can to prevent it.” 

Meanwhile, in April, the Liverpool Echo reported that a man was convicted for using the government’s job centre website to attempt to lure people with £34,000-a-year trainee counsellor roles before pocketing their cash for uncompleted background checks costing £65 each. 

DBS swindles are part of a wider trend of recruitment scams. Writing for People Management in March, Rosser said SAFERjobs had seen a 300 per cent rise in reports of labour market abuse over a two-year period. He added that some companies had seen incidences where people arrived at their offices thinking they were starting a new job, only to find out they had been conned. 

Earlier research by CV-Library revealed that one in 10 jobseekers had fallen victim to a scam while job hunting, while last July the Department for Work and Pensions launched a campaign calling on recruiters to help eliminate recruitment fraud. 

DBS checks were separately discussed in the Supreme Court last month. The country’s top court heard arguments that the current system of checks is unfair because it infringed people’s right to private and family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights for those with multiple or certain types of offences. 

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