How to spot fraudulent certificate printing services and degrees

Fraudulent documents are an increasing issue, as more employers are looking for proof of education or certification. Fake qualifications have become so hard to spot that recently the BBC reported an undercover reporter using a fake qualification was offered a student loan and told no regulation system could be 100% proof against fraud. With the ready availability of certificate printing paper and software, more fraudsters are able to duplicate authentic-seeming documents.

To check that documentation is authentic there are a number of indicators you can look out for:

Quality of the certificate printing paper

Look out for security features on the certificate paper, for example whether it is embossed or has an official stamp or hologram logo sticker. This is one of the easiest attributes of genuine certificate printing services to spot, and a sign of quality often overlooked by fraudsters.

What type of font is used?

In general you won’t find more than a couple of different fonts on a certificate. Universities tend to use traditional fonts to ensure the document has an official overall feel. If you spot several varieties of font this indicates the certificate is more than likely not authentic.

Is the certificate aligned correctly?

Certificates are commonly aligned down the middle of the page. If the alignment looks off centre this could be a red flag indicating certificate fraud. Poor design and inattention to detail such as this are major indicators that a certificate is not genuine.

Look out for a handwritten signature

Genuine certificates will never include a scanned signature. If the signature looks pixelated this is a telltale sign it has been scanned rather than signed. Always look out for a hand signed certificate to guarantee authenticity.

Poor spelling or punctuation

A strong indication that a certificate is fake is the language that is used throughout. Universities and educational organisations will use official language and there will be no spelling errors or mistakes in punctuation. Carefully read the certificate and if something doesn’t sound quite right it’s highly possible the certificate itself is not to be trusted.

Is the institution accredited?

A quick Google search will turn up information about whether or not an institution is accredited to award a qualification. If you don’t find any institution details online then immediately suspect that the certificate is not genuine and call it into question.

These are just a few of the indicators that a certification is unauthentic. It can be very hard to spot a fraudulent document, but these elements are a good place to start.

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