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Criminal charges for lying on your CV

By Staff Writer
 
By Ashleigh Brown, journalist, Justmoney
 
With the unemployment rate being the highest in six years, according to reports, job seekers could feel that lying on their CV is the only way to get the job. 
 
However, allegations of CV fraud have landed SABC chairperson, Ellen Tshabalala, in hot water. It is alleged that she lied about her qualifications. With the issue of CV fraud firmly in the spot light, the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) has warned that lying on your CV could lead to jail time. 
 
“When members pick up [candidates] that have lied, they have the ability to list the incident that has taken place on the SAFPS database that will then alert other companies that this individual did lie, or provide false documents, and that they must be cautious when dealing with that individual,”  said Carol McLoughlin, executive director of SAFPS. 
 
Each company has a different policy regarding CV fraud, and thus will handle every case differently. It is up to the company to decide whether to take a criminal charge or not.  
 
Numbers rise 
 
Even ‘white lies’ are considered a no-go. “Any fraud is regarded as a criminal offence. You cannot commit a light fraud or a heavy fraud – fraud is fraud,” said McLoughlin. 
 
She confirmed that there has been a rise in CV related fraud listed with the SAFPS, but added: “We weren’t getting the full cooperation and support from member companies to actually list those types of incidents in the past. Last year we had quite a fight because we started to make it known to members that they can list these types of incidents. And the employment screening bureau has also started to participate. So from that perspective we have seen a spike. But I can’t attribute that to incidents happening more frequently, or because companies have started to list these incidents and have seen the benefits from doing that.”  
 
McLoughlin said that there were different reasons as to why people would commit CV fraud, one of those reasons being the high unemployment rate. 
 
“I think that people are desperate to get jobs, so I think they are willing to try every means possible.”
 
She went on to say that peer pressure could be another reason for the rise in CV fraud. The need to be better than fellow classmates could lead to applicants lying on their CV. 
 
“It could be peer pressure as well: ‘why don’t we try this’, type of story. And they don’t understand the consequences, and that is quite sad. They might end up on a database like SAFPS, and once there it limits their future, because once they are listed there they are treated as a dishonest individual until proven to be honest, so they would be treated more cautiously in terms of them trying to get a job, or open an account, or to try and get a loan,” said McLoughlin. 
 
Only member companies of the SAFPS have access to the database. Any company can register however, and then will receive alerts when an ID they are checking comes up as fraudulent. 
 
“[The member companies] subscribe via a subscriber agreement where they agree with rules and regulations of [the SAFPS] code of practice. So there is quite strict governance around the database. It is basically just an alert to alert the member companies to be on the lookout,” said McLoughlin. 
 
Clearing your name
 
As it is the company’s job to list a fraudulent person on the SAFPS database, it is also the company’s job to remove them from it, if they have proven that they are innocent. 
 
“We don’t want to list people unfairly,” said McLoughlin. 
 
McLoughlin went on to explain that: “For example, if [someone] presented a matric certificate which was valid, but perhaps they then got a new matric certificate, because they had lost their old one, but that information had not been updated, the information then would not ‘gel’, the person would just have to explain to the company which listed them and their name would be removed.” 
 
The onus is on the person listed to prove their innocence, or explain their case with the company which listed them, in order to have their name removed. 
 
Matric pass rate
 
Times Live reported that the matric pass rate might rise, due to the matriculants not being prepared enough for the working world. 
 
If the matric pass rate were to rise, it may result in an increase in CV fraud too. With the slipping standards in education, and the increasing employment rate, will individuals looking for jobs take the chance of jail time? 

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