By Richelle Heinauer

White Lies and Background Checks

Nona Patronite, Managing Director, Investigative Services Group

Sarah was an ideal candidate. After an exhaustive search, the HR team thought they’d struck gold. She was the perfect person for the position. Perhaps a little too perfect. However, optimism rules in today’s hiring environment, so she was immediately offered a position, and the HR team started the onboarding process. The position gave Sarah access to sensitive company and customer information, so her terms of employment were contingent on her passing a background check. However, the results of the background check quickly showed that she wasn’t all that she was cracked up to be.

Strike one: Sarah’s resume indicated she was last employed for three years, yet records obtained from her prior employer indicated she was only employed there for two and a half years. That left six months of employment history that were not accounted for. 

Strike two: Sarah’s resume gave the clear impression that she was a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). In reality, she had yet to pass the last of three required CFA exams which was discovered using the directory of the CFA institute.

Strike three: Sarah had sued her last two employers. The background check revealed court records detailing ongoing litigation in several jurisdictions outside of Sarah’s reported address and those of her former employers. Sarah’s resume omitted that she previously lived and worked in another state and her previous employers were shown “New York-based Investment Advisor.” In both cases, Sarah’s claims had not been upheld, but the findings demonstrated a pattern of litigiousness that couldn’t be ignored. If it weren’t for taking the extra step of reviewing the prior addresses reported in Sarah’s background investigation and searching those jurisdictions, this valuable information would never have come to light. 

Unfortunately, instances like these happen frequently in varying degrees and can only be uncovered through a deep dive background check. 


Post COVID, lying on job applications, resumes, and CVs has become more prevalent. The job market can be fiercely competitive, and as a result, candidates may feel the need to stand out. Unfortunately, some candidates will choose to create a resume that fits a particular job description, rather than be transparent and truthful. The consequences, however, can be severe both to the candidates and the employers.

A 2021 survey by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) found that nearly 95 percent of the employers asked said they conduct background checks, and roughly 75% of those surveyed discovered lies on candidate submissions.

Verification of the details supplied by a candidate is a vital step in the background screening process. Gaps in employment; fake/expired credentials, certifications, or licenses; and misrepresentations of education and experience are the most falsified details.

How then, can an employer safeguard the integrity of their hire and retention processes and minimize fallout from white lies?

First, a proven vetting process by an experienced investigative team is crucial. While quick checks at volume pricing might appeal, for regulated industries such as finance, the clear choice is a full, comprehensive background check.

Second, a background check should never cut corners – it is important that the background check confirms education, credentials, and employment history in addition to review and analysis of pertinent public filings including criminal records, bankruptcy, and litigation. Although more costly up front, this method can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad hires’ salaries, not to mention the potential fallout of bad publicity and social media postings.

Finally, while a white lie here or there may seem harmless to some, it can expose an employer to liability, scrutiny of practices, and potential litigation. The discovery of white lies can have severe consequences, particularly in regulated industries.

Would you want someone who misrepresents themselves to represent your firm? What happens if a lie is exposed later – can it impact a deal? Lead to the loss of clients? Damage a firm’s good name and reputation? These potential risks can be minimized by securing a comprehensive background check. Similarly, the same level of scrutiny should be exercised for periodic follow-up annual checks that are mandated in certain sectors. LCG Advisors’ Investigative Services Group has extensive experience in background checks and employee screenings. Reach out to our team today and learn how our background check process can help protect your firm from potential risks and bad hires.

Back to the insights


Confidence to Pursue Possibilities

Blending a proven framework and flexible approach with true insight is key to the unique way we help our clients thrive.

Find a Professional