Checking for fake ID: what Financial Services employers need to know

Checking for fake ID: what Financial Services employers need to know


The UK Home Office recently reported that individuals have been using false identity documents to obtain Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks, to conceal criminal history.

DBS checks are completed by employers and volunteer organisations in England and Wales, to validate whether a person has a criminal record. Typically, they’re used to determine whether someone is able to work in industries with vulnerable people such as care or with children, but they’re also used to check if an individual has any financial convictions that may make them unsuitable for working within a financial services business.

When we consider the sophisticated editing software and high quality forgeries that are widely available, it’s no surprise that employers can find it challenging to differentiate between genuine and false documents. It’s only with advanced digital tampering detection technology that many attempts at forgery can really be uncovered.

With over a third of financial services businesses having been a victim to employee fraud [1], it’s critical that robust ID document checks are carried out, so you can protect your business against loss, potential regulation breaches and reputational damage.

Most organisations will ‘identity check’ an applicant by manually inspecting original documents such as a passport, driving licence and a bank statement. The documents must be originals and help prove the person’s name, address and date of birth. This information is then used in order to request a criminal record check.

However, document checking for identity purposes is often undertaken by untrained laypersons who are unlikely to spot a professionally produced counterfeit document.

So, what’s the answer?

The Home Office has announced its support for the use of document authentication technology for employment screening purposes such as Right to Work and DBS criminal record checks, in this published guidance.

This is beneficial to the financial services industry because it means not relying on the untrained human eye; technology-based systems can forensically examine a government issued document in seconds and provide an immediate response.

The technology is designed to quickly and easily assist users to establish the authenticity of documents presented, such as UK driving licenses, biometric residence permits and identity cards.

It plays an important role in preventing the use of fraudulent documentation and helps establish the identity of the person being checked.

Document authentication technologies can save businesses time because documents can be checked in seconds. It saves money as it reduces the risk of employee fraud and it reduces human error, providing higher levels of confidence about the identity of prospective applicants.

Fair processing notice

The Home Office’s guidance provides a fair processing notice, which can be used to inform the candidate their details will be shared with law enforcement authorities if the documents are suspected to be fraudulent.

For example if a fraudulent document is detected then it would be shared with the police or other organisations where it is lawful to do so.

What should you do when a fraud is suspected?

As an employer, if you spot a fraudulent document and the holder is present, Home Office advice is to firstly ensure you’re not at risk of harm. Return any suspicious documents to the holder – unless it is safe to retain them.

Only law enforcement officers such as the police have formal legal powers to seize documents they suspect to be fraudulent. Instead, forward a copy of the fraudulent document plus any additional details to the police.

GBG is a founder member of the Association of Document Validation Professionals (ADVP). The association works with The Home Office to create awareness of the issue of fraudulent documents and how organisations can protect themselves from the risks associated with identity fraud.

Get in touch to find out how GBG IDscan can help you authenticate documents as part of your employment screening process, or request a demo.

[1] Research carried out by GBG and Censuswide October 2018.