How to Reduce Travel Risk, Avoid Hiring
Frauds, and Select Experienced Protection
March, 2010 Issue No. 2
This issue touches on three topics that have been very prominent in the news:
Traveling in Mexico – Chris Gipson, an Executive Protection agent experienced in protecting executives on international trips, provides safety advice when traveling in dangerous countries such as Mexico .
Fraudulent Resumes – Greg Kirsch, Director of Investigations and Pre-Employment Screening, explains how diploma and employment mills work.
Screening and Agent Selection – Christine Tumolo, Operations Manager, discusses U.S. Security Care’s careful screening and selection process.
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U.S. Security Care, Inc.
Greg Kirsch, U.S. Security Care’s Director of Investigations and Pre-Employment Screening, talks about the growing trend of business people of all levels using diploma and employment mills to fill holes in their resume.
What is a diploma mill and how does U.S. Security Care insure that the employee’s degree is legitimate?
Kirsch: A “diploma mill” is actually a term that is only legally defined in a few states. Generally speaking, it is an entity that does not have legally recognized degree granting authority. They exist both nationally and internationally, though recent studies show the United States to be the “Diploma Mill” capital of the world.
“These entities will provide a “degree” to an individual for a fee. Some require the completion of an internal course curriculum, typically online, while others will simply send the customer a document that to the naked eye resembles any other degree from a recognized institution.
“Additionally, the diploma mill industry has adapted to the pre-employment screening environment by creating “verification departments” and “registrar’s offices” that will “verify” the degree’s authenticity.
“When U.S. Security Care verifies a domestic degree, we only utilize registrar or record information from official school sources. However, when we encounter a new school or suspected diploma mill, we will also compare that school with the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation records. If the school is not on this list, they do not have degree granting authority in the United States . In the situations where the school is not accredited, we still “verify” the applicant’s provided information, but we also include in our report the results of our inquiry with the Department of Education.
“Many suspected diploma mills will state that while they are not accredited by the Department of Education, they are accredited by multiple online accreditation programs. However, these “accreditations” hold no value in the field of formal post-secondary education.”
Aren’t fraudulent diplomas usually used by lower level people to make up for a lack of education?
Kirsch: “No, they span all backgrounds. There have been several cases of high-level individuals and doctors referencing “diploma mill” education credentials on their resume. We also see them utilized by individuals applying for entry level positions. They span all degree-required positions and no industry is exempt from the threat of this growing issue.”
What is an employment mill and how does U.S. Security Care confirm whether or not the company name on the resume is legitimate?
Kirsch: “An employment mill is very similar to a diploma mill, though the industry landscape is a little different. An “employment mill” will allow a job seeker to create a fictitious employment history for a fee and will then provide the applicant with a contact number for any future verification efforts. When a pre-employment screening is performed, the intention is that the screener will call the provided number and an individual on the other end representing the HR/Records Department” will look up the applicant’s information and verify their “past experience”.
“To combat this, U.S. Security Care will research any applicant provided employer independently and contact that company through their officially published contact information. Once contact is made, we then only verify employment history though official HR or payroll department records, or for smaller companies, we will utilize the Office Administrator, Operations Manager or President/Vice President.
“While applicants often provide contact numbers for their past employers, and they are often valid, we like to ensure that we are obtaining the official contact information through a non-biased means and then report accordingly. We will view incorporation records when applicable to verify the company’s existence as a valid entity.”
Are there any red flags one should look for to tell the employer that the company may not exist?
Kirsch: “Online forums discussing the company’s authentication, a lack of published company listings or physical address, and cheaply designed or non-operational websites (depending on the industry) can offer some insight as to the validity of the company. However, a company that no longer exists may display many similarities to the ones I just listed, so those are not indicative of a “mill” exclusively.
“Realizing that the employer may be a “mill” often comes down to the investigators/researchers experience and investigative instincts before, during, and after contacting the entity, as new ones are being established every day.”
Are fraudulent education and employment histories typically utilized by a specific level of candidate or in a specific field?
Kirsch: “Unfortunately, no. There is no specific area to target when trying to detect this fraud. It spans all positions, walks of life, and experience levels. That is why it is beneficial to re-screen individuals receiving internal promotions. The employee’s credentials may have passed an initial screening 10 years ago, but the re-screen may reveal that the employee used a “mill”, which is now revealed based on the heightened industry awareness.”
EIGHT RECOMMENDATIONS WHEN TRAVELING IN MEXICO AND OTHER FOREIGN LOCATIONS
Chris Gipson, an experienced Executive Protection agent at U.S. Security Care who has provided protection for business executives, athletes and entertainers, discusses the precautions today’s business traveler needs to take when visiting hot spots like Mexico.
How dangerous is Mexico and are there cities American’s can visit that are relatively safe?
Gipson: “Most tourists’ destinations are relatively safe for Americans, for example,Cancun and Porta Verde.”
What precautions should business travelers take when visiting the country?
Gipson: “There are eight precautions I would suggest taking. First, know who you are conducting business with. It is wise to conduct your business and leave as soon as possible. It’s not a good time to sightsee.
“Second, don’t bring undue attention to yourself. You should try to blend in, acting as if you know what you are doing. Don’t look like you’re lost, be discreet.
“Third, have an itinerary and know it so you stay focused and alert. It is important to share your itinerary with someone at work and home.
“Fourth, it’s good to know precisely where you are going. Research your destination by looking at Google maps and print out the areas you will be traveling to.
“Fifth, don’t stay on the ground floor. Stay at least on the second floor. Stay close to a stairwell and know where the stairwell goes. As a precaution, jam a chair under the door handle to prevent unwanted entry.
“Sixth, have the U.S. Embassy or Foreign Consulate’s address and telephone number. You can ask for the Assistant Regional Security Officer or someone in security and let them know what dates you will be in the country. They may ask you for your passport number and social security number.
“Seventh, you should know where the local police station and nearest hospital or clinic is located.
“Eighth, if you plan to a carry large amount of money, don’t carry all of your money in the same pocket.
“Finally, before traveling, take a look at the State Department’s web site at http://travel.state.gov/. It is here that you will find which cities the State Department recommends you avoid.”
Should you hire armed protection if you are a corporate leader?
Gipson: “If you are a corporate leader, you probably have your own security team. You should have a local professional security person as a point of contact because they will know the area. You should also consider linking up with a local security firm that can provide additional support and intelligence. Whether they are armed or not is a situational call. If you are high profile, you may want to integrate armed local nationals into your security team.”
Should you hire a local firm with native speakers or an outside firm?
Gipson: “You always want a native speaker, who is familiar with the area you are going to be in, to facilitate things for you. The speaker will know where and where not to go. U.S. Security Care has individuals around the globe that we can call on and have worked with in the past.”
What criteria should one use when choosing a hotel?
Gipson: “You want to stay in a relatively populated area at a hotel with no less than three and a half stars. Read recent online reviews by Americans. Find out how the management and concierge treat people. The better the hotel, the better the security!
“Choose a hotel near where you are conducting your business. Review hotels on the Internet and check local web sites and newspapers to see if there has been any violence near the hotel.”
Are there specific modes of transportation you recommend over others?
Gipson: “The best practice is to have the concierge’s desk arrange transportation for you. Inform the driver that want to stay on the main roads and not take short cuts. If you are driven through back roads and streets, your chances of being robbed or kidnapped are increased.”
WHAT IS U.S. SECURITY CARE’S CRITERIA FOR HIRING PROTECTIVE PERSONNEL?
Christine Tumolo, who serves as the Operations Manager for U.S. Security Care, is in charge of hiring and managing the company’s highly trained and experienced personnel. Ms. Tumolo provides insights into the company’s selection and training.
What attributes does U.S. Security Care look for when hiring?
Tumolo: “U.S. Security Care embodies the professional model of excellence. We look for and expect our agents to be decisive, level headed, have the ability to act appropriately under pressure and thrive in volatile situations.
What is the experience level of the agents you hire?
Tumolo: “U.S. Security Care agents come with a wide range of experience. We hire agents from local, state and federal law enforcement, private security and the military. We look toward professionals who have some experience operating in changing environments. Our agents have the ability, skill and experience to adapt and operate efficiently within high stress and deteriorating surroundings.”
What is the process you go through when selecting agents?
Tumolo: “We have an extensive selection process. The process begins with a detailed interview conducted by our senior management. Subsequent to a successful interview, a comprehensive background investigation is initiated. The background investigation consists of county, state and federal level criminal checks, education and reference verification, employment history, state driving record, credit history, military records verification and drug screening.
“Once the background investigation is completed, the potential agent is then required to demonstrate proficiency with firearms and job related physical capabilities to proceed to a hire date.”
Is there specific training that you give your agents to improve their skills?
Tumolo: “Agents maintain a high standard of training, which includes first aid, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and Automated Eternal Defibrillators (AED) certifications. We sustain a group of agents that are First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level trained. U.S. Security Care is committed to providing the best trained agents who exemplify our core values. Medical, firearms, security awareness, threat identification and other high valued skill sets are the norm for continued training. Our commitment to maintain our high standards is also demonstrated by the firearms training program. Agents attend quarterly qualifications and proficiency drills.”
What differentiates U.S. Security Care’s agents over other organizations?
Tumolo: “Simply put, our agents are experienced, trained and motivated to provide the best service possible. Our agents are hired from a rigorous vetting and selection process. When you hire U.S. Security Care, you can be confident that the agent has been proven in the field. We hold our values to a stringent standard with a series of checks and balances in place.
“Agents receive specifically monitored training and must demonstrate their knowledge to the satisfaction of supervisory personnel, who provide constant feedback and reinforcement of U.S. Security Care standards.
“Overall, it is the process of continued education, the monitoring, the reinforcement and the overall commitment to our clients which sets U.S. Security Care apart.”
725 Skippack Pike
Blue Bell , Pennsylvania 19422
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