Primary Source License Verifications: 3 Cases of Forged Certification Documents

Marketing Director

Several years ago, my colleague Vu T. Do, PreCheck’s Vice President of Compliance, discussed a growing concern for employers as our investigators noticed an uptake in the detection and reporting of diploma mills. Unfortunately, this is not the only trend with which healthcare employers should be concerned. Recently, our license investigators have come across a few instances of forged certification documents provided by an employee to their employer to “prove” they have a claimed license or certification.  

Consider the following three cases, which demonstrate the value of primary source license verifications.

Case #1: Name Mismatch

As one of our investigators was working on credentialing a client’s request, they made an unusual finding when conducting the primary source verification with the board. They identified the certification number shown on the employee’s document did not match the employee’s name, but rather another person entirely. While investigating this situation further with the board, the investigator was able to confirm that the license document provided by the employee was indeed forged based not only on the name discrepancy but also on the fact that the forged document did not include a “Valid Paid Through” date, which is standard on valid certificates.

Case #2: Expired License

In another example, our investigator confirmed through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) that the certificate presented by our client’s employee was a forged document. While the contact from the AACN indicated the individual had previously held a certification, it had expired nearly two years earlier and they did not currently hold a valid certification. After review of the certificate provided, the AACN contact confirmed that the font used did not match the font used on the official certificates and that the seal on the forged certificate was not a valid one.

Case #3: Failed Exam

In this third example, our investigator had been in contact with American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) regarding a client’s employee’s certification for a few weeks. PreCheck’s initial investigation revealed the employee took the Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) exam a month earlier but did not pass and therefore did not currently hold a valid certification. However, the individual presented a certification document to PreCheck’s client, which was then shared with our investigator. After presenting it to the ACSM, it was confirmed that the document was not a valid certification.

While all three examples have slightly different conditions, they have one thing in common: a forged certification or license document presented by an employee to their employer. While your organization may accept certification documents from job applicants or employees, a primary source verification should always be conducted to confirm they are both current and valid. Not only do accreditation standards from organizations such as The Joint Commission (TJC) require it, but it is simply a best practice to adopt and one that is highly recommended based on our investigative experience.

Need help with license verifications? Contact us today to learn how PreCheck can help streamline this process for your healthcare organization.

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