July 16th, 2015 | Sterling

Are You Relying On Fake Criminal Record Checks?

Are You Relying On Fake Criminal Record Checks? | SterlingBackcheck

Canadian employers have turned to criminal record checks to help achieve safer workplaces and prevent internal fraud and theft. While it’s encouraging to see so many employers adopting more diligent background screening programs, many organizations have a gap in this decision support process that can be (and has been) exploited by deceitful candidates.

In an effort to make the hiring process more convenient, some employers agree to accept criminal record check results from the candidate. The process, when operating optimally, looks something like this:

  1. Candidate visits their local police department and completes the required forms
  2. Candidate patiently awaits the results
  3. Upon receipt of the results of the checks, the candidate delivers the paper results to their hiring manager

That might sound well and good, but what if the candidate decides to deviate from the process. Consider for a moment that the candidate takes a detour and follows a different path:

  1. Candidate gets a copy of a clear criminal record check (through a friend, relative or simply creates one after basic internet research)
  2. Candidate uses document editing software to change the name or results on the document
  3. Once satisfied with the fake clearance, the candidate provides this altered paper result to their hiring manager or recruiter

Unless the document is an obvious fake, there’s a good chance that it could be accepted and the candidate will be hired. With all of the sophisticated, yet user-friendly design tools and technology available today, would you trust the “self reporting” model? The employer in this circumstance may never find out the truth and even if they do, irreparable damage may have occurred in a short time period to their clients, their workforce, their corporate assets or equally importantly, to their brand. Would you be able to detect a false document?


If your screening policy involves the acceptance of paper criminal record check results that are provided by the candidate, you may be creating a false sense of security in your organization. Fraudsters have proven time and time again that they can deceive employers by providing fake police certificates. While some fakes are easy to spot others can be nearly impossible even to a trained eye. The availability of simple editing software makes it easy for someone with even basic skills to alter a document. One key purpose of background screening is to identify fakes and fraudsters so you can prevent them from joining your organization and that the “clear” candidate is fairly recognized. By trusting them to provide their own “genuine” paper certificate, you contradict the very nature of your screening program.


Criminal record checks offer tremendous value to the hiring process and provide insight into your candidate’s honesty and any past criminal activity; however, criminal record checks only retain that value if they are not forged, altered, or tampered with. The only way to prevent your organization from accepting fake police certificates is to use a professional, objective background screening provider that has technology and processes in place to prevent tampering.

SterlingBackcheck provides secure online ordering and delivery, keeping the candidate at arm’s length from the results. Although your candidate may request a copy of their criminal record check (or receive it automatically via myBackCheck.com), they are never responsible for handling or providing the end result to the hiring manager. Results are always delivered securely and electronically to the hiring manager to prevent any tampering or forgery. Additionally, in order to prevent a candidate from using a fake identity to complete the criminal record check, an ID verification is completed – either through a physical examination of photo identification or a series of out-of-wallet questions that only the candidate can know. Ultimately, employers should leave criminal record checks in the hands of a qualified provider instead of their candidates.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.