Students are being warned that sharing pictures of their degree certificates online can help counterfeiters get hold of the latest designs
Prospects, which runs the Hedd degree fraud reporting service on behalf of the Office for Students, is warning that degree fraud could rise this year as students denied the usual graduation ceremony picture opportunities instead post selfies with their certificates on social media.
As graduation officers return to campus to post out degree certificates or make digital versions available, Prospects warns that students who publicly share photos of their certificates are giving fraudsters access to logos, crests, signatories, stamps, holograms and wording.
These are unique to each university and certificate designs change annually to help prevent forgeries.
While fake certificates, labelled as 'novelty' are sold for a few pounds on sites such as ebay, diploma mills are a multi-million pound business.
Prospects is working with universities to raise awareness of the issues of degree fraud among students with its #certificatefree campaign.
Chris Rea manages Prospects Hedd at Jisc. 'We're expecting to see a rise in pictures of degree certificates posted on social media, as they will be the only tangible mark of achievement for many graduates this year. This period marks the end of years of hard work so we understand the urge to share certificates will be strong, but the risks of fraud are high.
'Coronavirus has created ripe pickings for counterfeiters waiting to take advantage of graduates whose desire to connect with family and friends online is higher than normal. When students post pictures of their degree certificates everything is visible to make a forgery and they are easily found through graduation hashtags.
'COVID-19 has led to a challenging graduate jobs market. Graduates should have the best chance they can and not have to compete with people faking their qualifications.
'We don't want to see the market flooded with fake degree certificates based on the real deal. Protect the investment made by genuine students and the reputation of a UK education by refraining from sharing degree certificate selfies.'
Prospects degree fraud toolkits offer advice to help protect students, higher education providers and employers.
Clare Tregaskis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07792 429227.
Prospects has worked at the heart of higher education for nearly 50 years. Following a merger with Jisc in May 2020, Prospects continues to collaborate with government, universities and employers to improve student and graduate career outcomes through information, guidance and opportunities including:
- Prospects.ac.uk - visited by 2.1 million students and graduates each month for advice, jobs, apprenticeships, internships and unique tools such as Career Planner and Job Match.
- The UK's official postgraduate course database.
- Prospects Hedd - UK's official degree verification and fraud services. Its degree fraud services are managed on behalf of the Office for Students.
- Prospects Luminate - a central resource for graduate labour market information and research such as What do graduates do?
Jisc's vision is for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. At its heart is the super-fast national research and education network, Janet, with built-in cyber security protection. Jisc also provides technology solutions for its members (colleges, universities and research centres) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals and provides advice and practical assistance on digital technology. Jisc is funded by the UK higher and further education and research funding bodies and member institutions.