University students who have missed out on face-to-face graduation ceremonies due to Covid-19 could be more vulnerable to degree fraud.
Graduates are being warned of the dangers of posting selfies with their degree certificates on social media as it can give counterfeiters access to the latest logos, signatories and wording.
Students have been denied their usual graduation ceremony picture opportunities amid the pandemic so more graduates are likely to want to share photos of their certificates online.
Prospects, which runs the Hedd Degree Fraud Service on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), has issued the warning as it expects the number of graduates posting selfies to rise.
It comes as graduation officers have returned to campuses across the UK to post out degree certificates to students who spent their final months of university at home during lockdown.
Chris Rea, who manages Prospects Hedd, said: “We’re expecting to see a rise in pictures of degree certificates posted on social media as they will be the only tangible mark of achievement for many graduates this year.
“This period marks the end of years of hard work so we understand the urge to share certificates will be strong, but the risks of fraud are high.”
He added: “Coronavirus has created ripe pickings for counterfeiters waiting to take advantage of graduates whose desire to connect with family and friends online is higher than normal.
“When students post pictures of their degree certificates, everything is visible to make a forgery and they are easily found through graduation hashtags.
“Covid-19 has led to a challenging graduate jobs market. Graduates should have the best chance they can and not have to compete with people faking their qualifications.”
It comes after the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education warned that anxious students may be more vulnerable to exploitation by essay mills amid the pandemic.
In June, the higher education watchdog said it had seen essay writing services “target” students amid the outbreak to take advantage of the “uncertainty and anxiety” facing young people.