Filtering out the CV fakes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 12:00am

JOB SEEKERS USING fake credentials seem to be an everyday occurrence on the mainland. One recruitment company in Dongguan reportedly received more than 1,000 applications with bogus qualifications in less than a year.

A Communist Party commissioned report found more than 15,000 cadres used fake credentials after background checks were carried out on 670,000.

Economic crimes committed on the mainland are also reported daily. In the past four years more than a quarter of a million people have been arrested for such crimes, according to the China Daily, and 67 billion yuan has been retrieved.

Nonetheless, foreign employers do not always look closely into who they are hiring. When they have bad experiences, they just throw their hands in the air saying 'Oh, it's China!', according to Allan Matheson, managing director of Quam Data Services.

'Almost everybody has had bad experiences in China but they just write it down to China being what it is,' he said. 'If a multinational gets burned by their employees, they don't want to talk about it ... and the chances are they don't want to go to the authorities.'

This might be about to change, with Quam Data Services' recently launching TrustPlus service, which offers to help companies manage employee risk on the mainland.

'Employers leap into [hiring] with their eyes closed. A change in thinking is necessary,' said Mr Matheson, adding that the best way to keep fraudsters away was to not hire them in the first place.

The greatest incidence of fraud lay with those who joined the company using false information.

The new service enables employers to conduct a thorough search of applicants' backgrounds and check them for fraud or previous convictions. The search is conducted only after obtaining agreement from the applicant.

Information available on the mainland is not as detailed and up-to-date as in Hong Kong.

There are no clear guidelines about the disclosure of personal data and privacy, but important and useful findings can be discovered by what is available legally from government departments, educational institutions and professional bodies.

Quam Data Services, which also conducts credit reporting for companies, has been dealing with different kinds of data on the mainland for five years.

'The information is available,' Mr Matheson said. 'China is an information-rich society.'

The most simple and common problems can be nipped in the bud with a simple and inexpensive search.

For example, employees often use false names and identification documents when applying for jobs, so that after defrauding the company they can disappear without a trace.

It is also common to use false university degrees.

In Wuhan alone, a police raid last year yielded 550,000 fake documents ranging from university diplomas to ID cards and birth certificates.

Employers are often tricked because the fakes are of a high quality and look identical to the real ones, according to Mr Matheson. The con can be avoided by verifying their originality.

It is also possible to find out whether the job applicant has a criminal past. 'No one has a unified database for civil litigation in China, but we can get access to criminal records from across the country,' he said.

Mr Matheson said the information was generally reliable and up to date.

Civil litigation is more difficult to track since several courts might be functioning within each city, running their own databases.

For example, in Guangzhou there were eight courts, Mr Matheson said.

The company also offers media search, where articles are searched for the name of the applicant.

The main national papers are scoured through an internet search.

Quam Data Services also offers a similar service across Asia.

Commenting on the usefulness of the service, Mr Matheson said that even in Hong Kong they often discovered mistakes, discrepancies and in some cases serious problems in the resumes, despite the fact that applicants agree to the search themselves and should be aware that they will be discovered.

'I have been surprised by the rate where something goes wrong, especially with senior executives,' he said.

TrustPlus does not do private investigations but provides a data-based system that collects vast amounts of publicly available information to weed out high-risk applicants.

The system offers a quick and low-cost solution to employers for an initial indication of any possible problems.

'One day [in Hong Kong] we can do 200 to 250 searches and reports. We are an information factory,' said Mr Matheson, adding that the low cost made it possible for bosses to screen even lower paid employees.

While in Hong Kong the company is able to offer a search within a day, mainland searches take a bit more digging and can be completed in five to eight days.

Do you know who you are hiring?

Most fraud is committed by people who used false information when joining a company.

Screening job applicants for criminal pasts and fake credentials is advisable.

The search is conducted with the agreement of the applicant.

Screening takes one day in Hong Kong and up to eight days in China.