Fake Credentials? Here’s What To Do

Credentials play a crucial role in various aspects of our lives, from education and employment to certifications and qualifications. 

These documents help employers assess the experience and background of candidates and make better hiring decisions. 

However, due to the high value of credentials, the risk of encountering fake ones has also become a growing concern. In 2023, the Justice Department in the United States revealed a fake diploma scheme that fabricated over 7,000 fake diplomas. In 2015, the New York Times alerted to the dangers of diploma mills, with certificates issued by bogus universities with no credibility. 

The industry of fake diplomas can be a threat to the safety and reputation of companies. In this article, we will explore how to determine if a credential is fake and what to do if you come across one.

How to spot a fake digital credential?

Determining if a credential is fake or not can be challenging, as it can often appear legitimate at first glance. 

However, there are several key factors to consider when verifying the authenticity of a document like a diploma, certificate or licence. 

Verify the issuer

Check the legitimacy of the organisation or institution that issued the credential. Look for well-known and reputable educational institutions, professional organisations, or certifying bodies.

Visit their official website or contact them directly to confirm if they issued the specific credential in question. 

Check for inconsistencies

Examine the details on the credentials for any inconsistencies or discrepancies. 

Verify the accuracy of the individual’s name, the name of the issuer, the date of issuance, and the specific qualification being certified. Any spelling errors, incorrect dates, or other irregularities may be red flags.

Examine the format

Pay attention to the format of the credential.

Legitimate  analog credentials on paper are usually issued in a standardised format and may contain a blue pen l signature or/and a QR code, to ensure their authenticity. If the format looks suspicious or lacks features, it may be a fake document.

Cross-check with other sources

Cross-check the information on the credential with other reliable sources, such as official transcripts, certificates, or other documentation.

You might notice that the website for a university does not list the degree presented, or official authorities have not listed the course as accredited. These are all indications of potential fraud.  

Verify the formatting of the document

The way a document is designed can indicate if it is legitimate or fake.

Fake credentials usually present poor formatting, inconsistent spelling, issues with fonts and other layout problems. 

What are blockchain credentials?

As digital formats are replacing paper documents, it has become increasingly necessary to create systems that verify the authenticity of digital information.

Blockchain technology is currently used to prevent fraud and provide a reliable, decentralised public record for students, companies and educational institutions to verify these documents. 

When using blockchain, digital credentials receive a unique electronic signature, to attest to the authenticity of the certificate, diploma or document. Through an electronic signature, people can check who issued the credential, when the document was created, when it expires, and the identity of the recipient and owner of the document. Note that for privacy reasons the digital credential itself will not be published on the blockchain.

How to check a blockchain credential?

Verifying the authenticity of a digital credential using the blockchain involves a few steps:

Obtain the information

The first step in verifying blockchain credentials is to obtain the relevant information from the credential holder.

This information may be the credential itself, or it can be a digital file, a URL or a QR code.

Access the blockchain

Next, you need to access the blockchain where the verification data is stored. 

This may involve using a blockchain explorer, which is a search tool that allows you to browse the blockchain and retrieve information about transactions, including the issuance of digital credentials. 

Blockchain explorers are typically provided by the blockchain network on which the verification data is stored, and they are accessible through a web browser.

Retrieve the credential information from the blockchain

Using the digital credential information, you can search the blockchain explorer for the relevant transaction that represents the issuance of the digital credential. This may involve searching for the transaction ID or the issuer’s public key. 

Once you locate the transaction, you can retrieve the credential verification information stored in the blockchain.

Verify the credential information

You can verify the digital credential’s authenticity with the credential information retrieved from the blockchain. This may involve checking the electronic signatures against the issuer’s public key to ensure they match. 

Electronic signatures are unique digital fingerprints that are used to verify the integrity and authenticity of the data stored in the blockchain. If the signatures match, it indicates that the digital credential is authentic and has not been tampered with.

Cross-check with the issuer’s records

You can cross-check the information with the issuer’s records to further validate the digital credential’s authenticity. You can contact the issuer directly to confirm that they have indeed issued the digital credential to the recipient and that the information on the credential matches their records. 

This step can provide an additional layer of verification to ensure the credibility of the digital credential.

What to do if you come across a fake digital credential?

If you come across fake credentials, it’s important to take appropriate action to protect yourself and others from potential harm. 

Report it

If you identify a fake credential, reporting it to the appropriate authorities is important. Contact the issuer or relevant regulatory bodies.

Reporting fake credentials can help raise awareness and prevent others from being misled by false information. 

Do not share 

It’s crucial to refrain from sharing or using a fake credential. 

Using or sharing fake credentials can have serious consequences, including legal repercussions and damage to your reputation. It’s important to verify the authenticity of any credential before using or sharing it.

Take legal action if necessary

In some cases, you may need to take legal action against individuals or entities responsible for issuing or using fake credentials. Consult with legal experts or seek advice from relevant authorities on the appropriate steps to take in such situations.

Enhance credential verification processes

If you are an issuer of digital credentials, it’s important to continuously review and enhance your credential verification processes to minimise the risk of fake credentials. 

This may include implementing robust identity verification methods, using blockchain or other advanced technologies for credential storage and verification, and regularly updating your protocols.


In an increasingly digital world, documents are more easily shared and developed. However, fake credentials have also become more widespread.

It is important to be vigilant and thoroughly verify the authenticity of documents, taking the appropriate action when coming across a counterfeit credential. Sharing these documents can have serious consequences, including damaged reputation and legal problems.

Blockchain technology has risen as a solution to curb the creation and distribution of fake documents. Through a unique electronic signature, digital credentials issued through the blockchain are easily verifiable and impossible to counterfeit. 

It is imperative to prioritise authentic and trustworthy credentials, making the educational industry increasingly more reliable.