11 July 2016Trademarks

Warning over counterfeit graduation certificates

A UK organisation that aims to protect the legitimacy of higher education qualifications has warned graduates not to post pictures of themselves or their degree certificates online because they can be easily counterfeited.

Jayne Rowley, director of the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), warned against posting “certificate selfies” as “they give fraudsters perfect templates to produce fake degree certificates”, particularly if posted onto social media accounts.

Rowley said logos and crests of institutions as well as signatures, stamps, holograms, and wording can be easily copied onto fake certificates and passed off as genuine to unwitting employers.

In a blog posted on the HEDD website, Rowley cited figures from the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System that social media platforms are hunting grounds for identity thieves and there has been a 52% increase in identity fraud against under 30s in the last 12 months.

“We’re contacting all university social media teams to ask them to get the message out to their students and also not to re-tweet pictures of their graduates holding certificates,” Rowley said.

“Degree certificates contain personal information—full names, dates of birth (in some cases), places of study, titles, year of graduation.

“Information like this can be used to piece together someone’s identity for fraud and is as precious and private as a passport, a driving licence or bank details,” she added.

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