Employers in the UK are becoming increasingly wary of talking what job applicants claim at face value and are using up to seven different methods of checking up on their backgrounds and qualifications.
A study in specialist journal IRS Employment Review has highlighted the extent to which employers are now taking seriously the threat of identity theft.
It suggests that employers are taking many of the steps necessary to ensure candidates did not slip through the legal net intended to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from dangerous carers.
Alongside the use of references from current and former employers, recruiters now typically carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks for relevant posts and seek to verify professional and academic qualifications.
Most also want documentary proof that the candidate is who they say they are and will probe further where there are gaps in an applicant's CV.
The survey of 100 employers found that, although criminal records checks were thought to be the most useful tool available to potential employers, they were most likely to follow up discrepancies or other warning signals identified in job references.
Most employers said they would also investigate further if there were gaps in employment or if the information candidates gave at interview did not match up with that in their CV or application form.
The survey found that, while all the organisations taking part in the research would still accept references by post, three out of ten were now happy to obtain an email reference. Four out of ten preferred to rely on telephone references.
Mark Crail, managing editor of IRS Employment Review, said: "Employers need to be sure that new recruits are who they say they are, that they have the academic and professional qualifications they need to do the job, and that there is nothing lurking in their past that they have not disclosed.
"Our research shows that human resource practitioners take their responsibilities seriously, but also reveals some discrepancies. Although public sector employers will almost always check if someone claims to have a degree, their private sector counterparts rarely do.
"And while four out of ten will try to get a telephone reference from a candidate's previous employer, they are almost always wary of giving a verbal reference themselves," he concluded.