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Fake Documents and DBS Checks

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Would you be able to spot a fake passport or driving licence if you saw one? What about a bank statement or utility bill? If your job is to organise DBS checks for people joining your organisation, then being alert for fakes is one of your main responsibilities. There are all sorts of recent news stories about people using fake ID to get round immigration and disclosure requirements, potentially putting clients at risk. Forgers are constantly trying to keep up to date with the latest developments in technology, and spotting fakes isn’t as easy as you might think.


Documents in the DBS Process

One of the key parts of the DBS proves is to make sure that the person applying for the test is who they say they are. The Disclosure and Barring Service has a long list of documents which can be presented to prove your identity. The list is extensive and includes things like a driving licence issued in the UK or European Union, passport, national identity card, birth certificates, marriage certificates or immigration paperwork. Applicants will show these documents to their employer who will check that their appearance matches the pictures on the documents. If the documents are fake, you have no real way of verifying identity.


Spotting a Fake

It’s a criminal offence to try to get a disclosure certificate or right to work in the UK using fake paperwork. It’s not an offence to employ someone who has presented fake paperwork, but the police will want to know that you have done everything you can to verify what you’re being shown rather than just taking everything at face value.

Often, spotting a fake is down to experience. If you’ve looked at hundreds of passports over the years, that makes it easier to spot one which doesn’t look right. One of the best techniques is to use comparison. Put a fake document side by side one which you know to be genuine and it’s often easy to spot the squint stitching, font which doesn’t look quite right, or picture which appears to have been glued in strangely.

Even if you don’t have the genuine article in front of you, you can usually spot a fake using information you can find online. Googling something like “security features of German passport” will bring up a website showing exactly what you should be verifying. Other websites might have videos showing how to inspect documents and clearly showing all security features you should be checking for.


Dealing with Fakes

If you do come across a document which you think might be fake, the first thing to do is to pick up the phone to call the DBS for advice. They will give guidance on what you should do, which will usually be involving the police. Don’t return any suspicious documents to the applicant; if they do turn out to be counterfeit, the police might want to do their own investigation.