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Impact of CV fraud on UK businesses – what employers need to know

Some job applicants may not see an issue with embellishing their CV here and there, but many may not realise that lying on your CV is considered fraud and, therefore, is illegal. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that recruitment fraud cost businesses around £23.9 billion annually before the pandemic.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that recruitment fraud cost businesses around £23.9 billion annually before the pandemic [1]. CV deceit contributed to this figure alongside other issues, including fraudsters imitating brands to access money. 

But how common is CV deceit, and how does it affect businesses in the UK? Here is a guide* to what businesses need to know about CV fraud, its impact, and how to tackle it. 

The recruitment process

ONS data shows that there are currently almost 900,000 job vacancies in the UK (January – April 2024) [2]. Businesses may be eager to fill these positions. However, research from the hiring platform Indeed shows that the hiring process is a time drain for many employers, with a quarter (24%) of UK businesses spending up to 10 hours a week scheduling interviews [3]

Indeed’s survey of UK businesses also revealed that employers spend around 37% of their time on tasks associated with hiring activities, such as candidate sourcing and assessment, resume screening, and background and reference checking.

Not only is the hiring process time-consuming but it also doesn’t guarantee the hired candidate is a good match, particularly when CV deceit plays a role.

How common is CV deceit?

Recent research by CIFAS found that 1 in 10 Brits admit to having lied on their CV and know someone who has lied on their CV — a 2% increase from 8% the year before [4].

According to further research by accountancy firm Crowe, one of the most common CV lies is applicants claiming to have qualifications they don’t possess [5].

Search data also indicates that more and more job hunters are potentially considering lying on their CVs, with increasing numbers of searches on the topic. 

Rank CV Deceit Topic Google Searches March 2022 – February 2023 Google Searches March 2023 – February 2024 % Change
1 Lying on CV 19,120 26,720 39.75%
2 Fake references 7,690 10,040 30.56%
3 Fake qualifications 920 1,200 30.43%
4 CV fraud 1,430 1,540 7.69%
5 Fake work experience 1,230 1,320 7.32%

Google sees more than 26,000 searches annually relating to lying on a CV. These searches have also seen a worrying 39.75% increase compared to last year. This could suggest that more people are looking up the consequences or viability of lying on their CVs. 

Google searches for fake references and qualifications have also seen 30.56% and 30.43% year-on-year increases, respectively, potentially indicating that more job hunters are researching if they can get away with falsifying this information on their CVs.

CIFAS research also found that 16% of UK adults don’t think lying on a CV is illegal. Almost a third (31%) of those who didn’t believe lying on a CV was illegal were aged between 16 and 24. This suggests that school and university leavers are tempted to exaggerate the qualifications on their CVs in order to obtain employment [6].

What are the Risks of Lying on Your Job Application or CV?

According to surveys and search interest, lying on your job application or CV is relatively common in the UK. However, it can have serious consequences if you’re caught.

Should you be caught supplying false information to secure employment, you risk the possibility of criminal prosecution and being recorded in the CIFAS Internal Fraud Database. This will likely make it difficult to secure employment in the future. You could also face a financial claim from the employer.

Kyle Eaton, business insurance expert, provides tips on how to tackle recruitment fraud as an employer:

“The UK has a competitive job market, particularly during the cost of living crisis when opportunities are less readily available. In the current market, some job hunters may be tempted to lie on their applications to secure employment. However, as an employer, hiring the wrong candidate can have serious consequences.

“Fraudulent hires can lead to a range of negative outcomes for businesses. For example, taking on incompetent staff could trigger staff turnover. The most effective businesses invest in proactively preventing such frauds from occurring rather than waiting to fall victim.  

“CV deceit often includes exaggeration of professional and academic qualifications, places of education, or previous experience and skills. As an employer, you need to have robust measures in place if it becomes clear that an employee has lied to gain employment.

“The first thing to do to prevent fraud is to know how to check the jobseeker’s identity and supporting documents. This includes in-depth pre-employment screening measures, such as:

  • Open-source internet checks
  • Contacting personal and professional references
  • Checking any provided documents are genuine and valid (such as qualifications) 

“Keep all your HR and recruitment teams up to date on the latest fraud trends and prevention tips through training. Some of the latest fraud trends include the use of AI to hide or mislead identities via deepfakes. Criminals can use AI to produce fake identity and right-to-work documents, which they sell to individuals who can’t secure them legitimately.

“Further information around fraud prevention can be found in the UK Government’s website and agencies like Action Fraud.”

*Guide by business insurance experts








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