Employment Screening: Statistics on Falsified Identity from 2020

Source: https://www.trustid.co.uk/fake-identity-document-statistics-how-the-landscape-changed-in-2020/

TrustID recently released a blog post in which they analyse all the data they collected in 2020. All the information in this post comes from TrustID’s analysis, so please visit their blog to see their insightful diagrams. Furthermore, the numbers they present bring the constant threat of identity fraud and the need for pre-employment screening into sharp relief. As TrustID’s analysis shows, identity fraud trends are always evolving. However, we monitor these trends and can help mitigate the risk via employment screening. Let’s take a look at what trends TrustID identified in 2020.

Passports and ID cards were the documents that pre-employment screening most frequently found were fraudulent.

As with previous years, passports formed the largest group of fake documents that we found during checks, followed by ID cards. There were some notable changes though.


They highlight two major changes:

  • In 2019, 12% of all fake documents TrustID discovered were visas. That proportion reduced to just 6% in 2020.
  • Whilst the proportion of fake passports remained largely the same, fake ID cards rose by 9% compared to 2019, and 12% from TrustID’s all-time figure. They attribute this to a potential increase in applicants attempting to find work before the Brexit grace period ends.

The proportions of fake documents in 2020 are as follows. 44% passports, 28% ID cards, 13% for BRPs and visas, and 2% driving licenses.

TrustID identified fake ID documents for 52 different nationalities. This is consistent with 2019’s figures, where they found 51. France appears most often on fake IDs, as it has in previous years. However, Portugal and Nigeria swapped their positions, with Portugal in second place and Nigeria in third.

Fake French documents were seen by customers across every sector and are among the top 3 most common nationalities in all sectors. Fake Nigerian ID documents, on the other hand, were most commonly presented to our clients in the construction and medical industries, while fake Portuguese documents were most commonly seen by our customers working in general recruitment and umbrella companies.

British documents were fifth on the list of nationalities with most fake British documents being seen by our customers making checks in the housing sector.


Based on these findings, you may want to take extra care with pre-employment screening if you’re in the construction, medical, recruitment or housing industries. This leads into the next section:

“Consumers’ and businesses’ retreat from cash has immediate implications for the bank branch and ATM network. But while the tech-savvy benefit, a whole range of people, not just the older and poorer, risk being left behind. 

During the COVID crisis, we have seen greater co-operation between us as the regulator and industry than I’ve ever known. That, coupled with the extraordinary public-spiritedness of branch and call centre staff, helped ensure people could continue to receive in-person and phone banking, even as the rest of high street switched out the lights.”

That co-operation must be the model for ensuring the digitally excluded do not become the cash excluded.

Christopher Wollard​FCA interim chief executive

COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions on travel created havoc in the hospitality sector throughout 2020. Therefore, TrustID saw a decrease in the proportion of fake ID documents in this industry. Whereas they made up 16.5% of all fakes in 2019, this decreased to 10.3% in 2020. They also observed a small drop in the construction sector. However, the proportion of fake IDs shown to Screening and Umbrella companies doubled from 10.3% to 20.6%:

As many of the screening checks may have been made on behalf of construction clients, this sector might actually be picking up some of the fake documents previously detected in construction.  Even without taking that into account, construction keeps its top place as the sector with the highest percentage of fake identity documents.

The hospitality sector was behind Umbrella businesses as the third most targeted by identity fraud, followed by the medical and housing sectors.


The top five sectors affected by identity fraud were: construction/technical with 38.2%, umbrella/screening with 20.6%, hospitality with 10.3%, medical with 9.3% and housing with 8.2%. Nonetheless, identity fraud poses a risk to every sector. However, if your company falls into one of these five, thorough pre-employment screening can mitigate a serious risk.

TrustID’s research shows that even in a year as strange as 2020, identity fraud remains rampant. Whilst the balance of which industries were hit was altered – likely as a result of all the measures introduced to combat the pandemic – every company is at risk. Thankfully, even the best fake IDs can not make it past competent pre-employment screening.