Saturday, July 4, 2009

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IT firms gear up to strong background checks

IT firms gear up to verify their employees’ backgrounds more strictly in order to check fraudulent claims of tenure, designations and degrees.

Verifying backgrounds of employees, which major IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Cognizant have been doing for 5-6 years, is becoming more stringent after the terror attacks throughout the country.

It’s being done with good reason. Pre-screening players allege that ‘fake degrees’ can be obtained and verified in India with ease. Consider this. Of all the discrepancies recorded in the first quarter (Q1) of January 2009, about 71 per cent are related to past employment data, according to a pre-screening firm, First Advantage. About 20 per cent are related to past educational data; and 4 out of 5 educational discrepancies relate to cases of fake documentation.

Incorrect tenure (35 per cent), inflated designations (11 per cent), false employment information (39 per cent), inflated compensation (3 per cent), suppression of negative supervisor/HR feedback (11 per cent), and criminal discrepancies (North-25.8 per cent, South-22.6 per cent, West-38.7 pre cent & East-12.9 per cent) comprise the ailments that plague companies, according to Ashish Dehade, managing director (West Asia), First Advantage.

IT firms agree with these statistics. Wipro, for instance, hires close to 10,000 employees every year. “We have been using multiple methods over the past few years to verify the claims of employees. Fraudulent certificates abound. We work with both an in-house team and have an assessment by the external HR agencies. Final interviews are always conducted in person (earlier telephonic and video conferencing was permitted),” explains Arvind J, head — Talent Acquisition, Wipro Infotech.

Wipro has blacklisted close to 300 companies which issue false experience certificates (employees pay to get such endorsements). Moreover, it has “placed under a scanner around 150 colleges and institutes which are known to be of dubious credentials.” It has to take such stern measures since the company has at least 600,000 active resumes, and validates around 1,000-1,500 resumes every week.

Wipro’s not a lone case. Most of the other IT majors perform a similar exercise. Moreover, while they may compete for IT services deals and poach each other’s employees too, they collaborate (but do not go on record) when it comes to sharing the databases of fraudulent companies and errant colleges and institutes.

TCS, for instance, hires nearly 30,000 employees annually. “Background verification is a very good way of identifying the genuiness of candidates,” avers K Ganeshan, VP (HR), TCS. The IT major also has an accreditation methodology and has “accredited around 1,300 campuses and close to 315 colleges.” The plan appears to be working for the company. Last year, for instance, of the 6,000 lateral (experienced) hires, it detected only around 230 fraudulent cases. “And the number is dwindling with every passing year due to our strong audit process,” says Ganeshan.

Mohandas Pai, director (Human Resources), Infosys Technologies, concurs with this view. The company implemented this “vigorous process nearly six years back, and employees are wary of our strategies. The crafty ones stay away since they know they will be identified and penalised,” cautions Pai.

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant, too, has a stringent due diligence processes and practices in place for whetting prospective candidates at different levels. “We avail of the services of third-party firms to carry out thorough background checks of prospective as well as inducted employees. This involves processes ranging from cross-checking with the HR function at former employers, to digging out pertinent information from respective colleges, and has been quite effective,” says Bhaskar Das, vice- president, Human Resources, Cognizant. The HR personnel initiate a reference check well before an employee joins the organisation. “In most cases, this process is completed prior to the employee joining us,” adds Das.

Incidentally, Cognizant has over 30,000 of its India-based employees registered as part of software body Nasscom’s National Skills Registry (NSR), among the highest in the industry.

Nasscom had set up the NSR in 2005 — a database of details of the IT Professionals (ITPs) — and currently has around 400,000 employees registered with it. However, employers must ensure that checks are done with the employee’s consent. Ensuring that employees are given proper notice is a very important part of positioning your firm to be able to act at a later date should something go awry with employee records, note HR experts.

After registering the details on the NSR site, IT Professionals (ITPs) need to visit Point Of Service (POS) offices appointed by NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) for submitting their finger-prints (biometric identification), photograph, signature and fee (if not paid through payment gateway).

“How vigorous the background checks should be depends on the sensitivity of the project,” notes Som Mittal, president, Nasscom. He adds that Nasscom is in the process of combining the information contained in the NSR database and the independent databases of IT companies.

But there’s a problem. While the larger companies may have their act in order, smaller IT-BPO companies will have to depend on the NSR database. It’s here where the challenges lie.

Rohit Mahajan, executive director, KPMG Forensic, acknowledges that background verification of employees is just the “first level of assurance to the client.” He adds, though, that there’s a challenge when the verification process is “defined as a commodity. Had it been perceived as a risk management process, it would have been a better value proposition.”

There’s another hurdle to cross. Pre-employment screening players say there is no centralised public access to police records, which makes a comprehensive nationwide search impossible. One has to identify the correct police station of the area of residence to track a person. If a person has resided at different addresses in the same city, one has to request for separate searches. This is a tedious process.

Finally, the IT sector is way ahead when it comes to background verification. If all sectors are taken into consideration, the revelation is scary. Over 98 per cent of all registered Indian firms (across all sectors) do not conduct any background screening. Inquiries related to fraud get restricted to internal audits in most cases. “Even for the 2 per cent that do,” says Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman, Central Association of Private Security Industry and The Association of Private Detectives and Investigators, “nearly 80 per cent of the information that is verified by third-party investigators is not reliable.”


  1. the back ground check policy is leading to exploitative employment. Some firms like Wipro and Tech mahindra are using it has handy tool to layoff people whenever they need.

    In serious case a person with special technological skill was hired by Tech mahindra and was put under tremendous pressure to develop a team of novices who over period of one year and once the team has come up to get rd of person who was getting high pay, they showed a discrepancy where in a very small company for which he had worked about 10 years ago while starting up his career has no clear records of his employment for period of six months (out of total 18 month he worked there and he was terminated. This happened in 2010.

  2. Guys please refrain yourselves from joining Infosys,wipro,tcs,cognizant.

  3. NASScom background verification system violates privacy rights. As per american privacy rules inspite whaeer happening between the employee and the employer no employer is supposed to interfere with future employment opportunites of the employee. Employee has right to provide apprpriate reference (whcih may not be correct) so that any bad feedback is preented from being given. NASSCOM policy vioaltes it.

    With so many compnaies closing down every month(especially samll ones) it impossible for any one to prove all his old records.IT background check are big farce and are being used to create corporate caste system in favour of cosmopolitan employees who get job in campus selections. The people who suffer most are the onew who work in small firm during initial stages of career.

  4. Indian IT companies are misusing the background verificatin data of employees. There are galring instances of marathi lobby in tech mahindra pune going after a hapless non-marathi guy (who happened to earn a a good reputation as top calss performer) and ensured his layoff by mobbing him during recession in 2009 in pune. After this his details were circulated among the HR and recruitment staff of various firms in pune so that every one knwo that he has been laid and no job offer is made.
    Beware the social netwrok of pune can violate you privacy. KPMG data canbe easily accessed in tech mahindra pune by any marathi brahmin manager.
    beware of career in pune if you are non marathi. Any downtune will result in instant layoff on non-marathis.

  5. I was one of the first employees of Accenture India before they went into overdrive on recruiting 25000 people. I was within the first 600 employees. When I put my papers in my Manager wsa not happy neithher the HR. they didn't relieve me properly from the job I was doing for last 22 months. Didn't give my PF papers, neither did they give a relieving letter other than a signed response to my Resignation letter. I am not naming the HR. I escalated it to their National HR Manager (Incidentally he was the only HR person in Accenture India when I joined the firm). So other than my original offer letter I have nothing to show for my experience. Now 7 years down the line I work as a Senior Manager in a Reputed US Financial Services company. If I would like to go back to India one day, these Background checks really scare me because of my career in India is probably not documented. Also I have a few friends who work on different IT Recruiting firms who said, HR will screw anyone they would like to. So what they report is mostly one sided and we don't have a place to apeal. Also Note this. 90% of HR in recruitment are in the payroll of the HR consulting companies. they pay them for hiring from a resume forwarded by them. Seriously if any responsible corporate do an investigation into these things you will realize this. Unfortunately no corporate CEOs are not really looking into this.

  6. Background check policy must be transparent and every employee must know what is being going into their records when they resign from a company.

  7. Do Cognizant do the academic verification from third party or by itself after a candidate has joined the company?

  8. Does CapGemini had strong BGC verification process? If Yes, what level they wil verify? Please update fast fast....

  9. I want to know how they are checking the documents of a guy who is going to join a firm like Wipro infotech or Tech Mahindra like a guy have the fake degree then how they check it and what they will do if they found it fake and what action they take against that guy, can any one tell me.

  10. Does CapGemini had strong BGC verification process? If Yes, what level they wil verify? Please update fast fast....

  11. does companies like wipro will do BGC verification for C2H(Contract to Hire) employees who will be on payroll of some consultancy.

    1. May be NO. Because i joined Wipro infotech through a consultancy. After 18 months when i passed all their core employee conversion exam they told that my previous company- a small consultancy is blacklisted. The fact here is that it is ok for them if i work as a contract employee taking less salary. I am promoted to shift lead with same contract role with same salary - for the same role wipro on role employee gets minimum of 35000 take home per month - while i am doing the same job for them for 12k.

      They are just concerned with Cost Cutting and giving hopes that you will be converted to core. When you meet their criteria of 18 moths experience in Wipro + Clearing their core conversion exam, you will have a HR round where they will deny conversion giving such reasons.

      my old company is still functional and i have their appointment and releasing letter. Many employees of that company are now working in Big IT companies.

      Conclusion - Wipro Info-tech is just looking at cost cutting.
      You are OK to work if you are C2H even if your earlier company is blacklisted. Problem comes only when you ask for a hike in salery or Core conversion.


    i would like to tell some scenarios there are many candidates who

    worked years in companies and when they want to relieve from the

    company will not relieve and will not give experience letters? what

    about them?

    2)in x company i quarreled with the manager thats manger mistake and

    after some days with out notice he send out from the company?then i

    can not move to courts i dont have such money to do all the stuff

    3)the companies takes me by telling development project and they kept

    me in support?

    3)the companies takes me by telling 6 months training bu they give

    direct work?

    3)the companies takes me by telling u have to stay 8 hrs they will pu

    pressure by to stay 12 hrs?

    4)the company takes me for x technology which i am interested but they

    will move to other then?

    5)bank statement why should i give my personnel property to company?

    6)some companies fire in recission so how can i fill the gap?

    7)the company wants me to join in nly 15 days but my notice period is

    3 months then?

    8)what if my previous company closed because lack of projects

    9)what if my previous has doing business for giving fake experience

    with taking huge money

    like this there are 1000s of problem from candidate perceptive who

    will answer these all

    the govt has to follow some standards to do all and if company takes a

    candidate weather he is fake or genuine they need to keep as promises

    made and if they want to do any verificaton they have to dobefore

    offerletter release?

    there should also list of blacklisting companies if they torture

    employess in NAASCOM

  13. Background checks are essential. IT personnel who work in most offices are able to easily transfer their skills from one company to another. In fact, they can transition to jobs almost anywhere with ease. This is one of the features that makes it so attractive as a profession. In most offices, it is easy to reach a position of leadership when you control spending or IT.

  14. I have a serious problem with BGC process and the very concept. After my education I was not working for a company and was in my own business (family run shop). The business was small hardly a couple of thousand rupee turnover and was not enough to take care of the family. So after 5 yrs I thought of working in a company so that I can earn money and collect capital to expand my shop. After working I thought it is a good idea to be employed rather than taking the risk for doing business and hence I switched a few companies. In the entire deal I joined some companies which were taken over by other companies and now have closed as well. Also it has been approx 10 years now and I am not carrying payslips. I however do have the offer letter, reliving letter etc. But these companies are now insisting on payslips, they want me to prove such company exists and I was an employee. Also I do not have any experience certificate for the period when I was doing business, so they say this a gap and you have to prove that you were doing business. They are now harassing me and I am afraid if NASSCOM might blacklist me. This is being unfair to the employees and needs to stop. If you don't want to hire me it is fine, what right do you have to blacklist me? Am I a criminal? High time there should be labor unions in IT sector as well

  15. i have worked in mahindra satyam 3 years back they got terminated me from mahindra satyam because of fake experience. Now mahindra satyam got closed. Now i have my original IT experience total of 6 years.Now i got offer to join in Tech Mahindra.Is it fine now joining in TM with all original experience . I need your feedback on this ASAP.

    1. dont mahindra

    2. What you guys will do if a case is filed against a person, but he has proved that he is not guilty in court and set to be free. In india anyone can register a case against others, Share your thoughts to help others

  16. What you guys will do if a case is filed against a person, but he has proved that he is not guilty in court and set to be free. In india anyone can register a case against others, Share your thoughts to help others....

  17. ello folks,

    I have one question regarding the BGV as when i had joined the HCL mine previous employer has given the negative feedback because of that i lost job of HCL when i went to previous employer then he committed me that he will give all clear report for future employment.
    now i have opportunity with another MNC & they asked me to register with NSR(NationalSkillsRegistry) for BGV check.
    now i am not giving the job reference of HCL & given them reason that i left that organisation directly.
    will i face any problem in BGV now?

  18. Hi this is Abishek Sharma I have joined in TCS after 1 month my background check of previous employer is negative due to that I have to Resigned from TCS right now I have collect all valid doccoument from my previous employee, so my question is if I joined in TCS again after 6 month wether they will reject me once again or not....... Please suggest me what to do

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  21. I think it could be more general if you get a football sports activity
    background verification in bangalore

  22. There is no one-click solution for conducting a background check. A truly accurate and reliable free background check is only possible by consulting valid sources, employing trained investigators, and getting the right kind of information from the employee.

  23. This essential background check arrangement applies to all Staff and Hourly representatives of American Acme Corporation.Globe NewsWire

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  25. Very informative post about the background verification. These days it becomes hard to start up a business and run it properly. It is more easy to think about the Call Center Outsourcing for the customer handling. Then company can think about other sectors more proficiently.

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