Beware of Diploma Mills in Background Checks

We’ve talked about fake reference companies, which have been on the rise since the recession, but we’ve delved less into fake degree companies. As a recent article explains, diploma mills have been in business since the 1990s, but a time like the present indicates that their use is on the rise. Many without jobs want to get ahead in the working world, and having a degree seems like the perfect solution. But, what if you don’t have the time to go back to school? No matter if you have the time or funds, using a diploma mill isn’t the answer.

Not to be confused with “degree mill” (a term often used to describe online schools like University of Phoenix and DeVry), diploma mills essentially charge a person a fee for a diploma. When it comes to background checks, however, this lack of education isn’t always detected, and a background check company needs to investigate the legitimacy of the degree.

The article above gives some good points for detecting a fraudulent diploma. Some of their suggestions include:

• Investigate the school. See if it’s an accredited and certified institution. Not all schools, particularly legitimate trade schools, are accredited and certified, but check for which organizations they’re certified and accredited. If these organizations aren’t legitimate, the diploma is probably not authentic.
• Consider the dates of the degree. Is it about three to four years for a bachelor’s or was the program completed in a number of months?
• Is the degree for “real life” experience?
• Was the tuition per degree or per credit hour? Was a discount offered for multiple degree programs?
• What are the admittance criteria?
• Does the school only use a PO box address?

Additionally, a background check company or human resources department conducting an investigation should compile a list of common diploma mill programs for future use.