Graduates spend a lot of time and effort working towards earning their university or college degree, and fraud impacts not only the reputation of the issuing body, but the value of authentically earned credentials. Digital credentials in higher education are used to supplement or replace existing physical certificates to help reduce fraud, protect the worth and longevity of a genuine credential, and prevent harm to the issuer reputation. 

Accredited Degree Fraud Overview

Degree fraud happens in a number of ways; diploma mills sell fraudulently created degrees online, individuals create spoofed certificates, and fake institutions offer certifications under names similar to existing accredited universities. Without proper investigation into a presented credential, sometimes instances of credential fraud can slip under the radar. This can lead to harm to the mentioned institution’s reputation, particularly if the candidate is in a role where there is a risk to public safety. 

The latest statistics on resume fraud suggest that at least 1 in 3 submitted job applications contain some kind of misrepresentation. In 2020, reference checking company, Checkster, assessed 400 applications across a 6 month period and found that:

  • 40% of applicants claimed a degree from a prestigious university when they were a few credits short
  • 39% claimed a degree from a prestigious university instead of where they actually studied
  • 39% claimed a degree from a prestigious university when only one class was taken
  • 33% included achievements and certifications they did not earn at all

There is a worldwide effort to close fake degree sites and companies and prevent the reproduction of degree-level credentials. This includes investigations, monetary fines, and jail sentences for those involved in the sale of fraudulent degrees. Certificates are also designed in a way to complicate reproduction by using techniques such as embossing and watermarks, and supplementing certificates with evidence of attendance such as graduation letters. In a move to cut down on the chance of fraud, many universities in the UK actively discourage their graduates from sharing images or photos of their certificates online. 

Why use digital credentials to issue verifiable degrees?

Digital credentials are used to supplement existing or entirely replace the physical degree certificate with a verifiable, shareable degree certificate hosted online on a dedicated page. The recipient receives their award via email with a link to the certification on a unique URL and includes details of the certification, the recipient, and the issuing institution. The space provided using online hosted digital credentials provides a clearer picture of the recipient’s competencies, including details of demonstrable skills, applied knowledge, coursework, work experience, transcripts, skill tags, exam results, and/or dissertation scores. 

How do digital credentials prevent fraud?

Digital credentials issued through Accredible are protected through bank-level encryption and security. Data is stored at a secure tier 3 SOC 2-certified data center and issuers have the option to utilize blockchain technology to provide additional levels of protection.

Issuer Verification

Accredible customers are manually verified by our customer success team. This ensures that no one can claim to be an organization that they do not belong to and prevents credentials from being issued under a falsely claimed prestigious name. Official universities that have been verified appear with a check mark on the credential view to communicate the Verified Issuer status to anyone that views the credential. 

Verifiable Credentials

By sharing a link to the credential, third-parties can easily verify the validity and authenticity of the award in seconds via the ‘Verify’ button. They can also see that the credential is in date and has not expired. Expired credentials appear with a visible page-width banner stating the award has expired and can no longer be verified. This also benefits the institution by reducing the time commitments of admins that provide verification services and ensure verification is available, even if the department has closed or is out of office. 

Blockchain Technology

Digital credentials can be written to the blockchain on issuance to provide unrivaled levels of security against fraud and ensure issued credentials are completely tamper-proof. Due to the decentralized nature of the blockchain, blockchain certificates and badges can not be edited, falsified, spoofed, or removed, once they have been issued. If someone tries to replicate or spoof a blockchain credential, it will not verify against the blockchain record, and is easy to identify as fraudulent. 

Additional Digital Credential Benefits

Digital credentials provide additional benefits for both the issuing institution and their graduates and students. 

Issuers can reduce or eliminate the cost of printing, materials, and packaging for physical certificates, while still enabling the recipient to print their credential at home or professionally. As pricing is based on unique recipients rather than credentials, this enables issuers to use micro-credentials, stackable credentials, and learning pathways to motivate and incentivize students throughout their learning journey. 

Recipients gain a secure, shareable digital credential representing their degree online so that it is always accessible. Their credentials can be shared to their social networks, enabling them to celebrate their achievements with friends, family, and peers. They can upload their credentials to their LinkedIn profile, add to online portfolios or resumes, and embed in email signatures to showcase their abilities and knowledge to potential employers, recruiters, and hiring managers.

In Summary

Academic degree fraud is a continuing issue and without the utilization of a digital credential solution, will continue to be a problem across the world. Using digital credentials provides security and protection against fraud for accredited degree programs and enables graduates to share their achievements without concern of spoofing. 

To learn more about the use cases and applications of digital credentials in higher education, reach out to our team to request a platform demonstration. Our team can also help institutions research additional features including custom white labeling, job market insights, and credential recipient directories. 

Further Reading

Download our free comprehensive Digital Credential Buyer’s Guide and learn the ins and outs of digital credentials, including:

  • The immediate and long-term benefits you can experience
  • How to make a solid business case to generate buy-in
  • The criteria to consider before choosing a credentialing software
  • How digital credentials support high-level strategies
  • What you should do to find the best credentialing fit
  • How to use digital credentials to meet your program's growth need
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