Students who include their degree certificates in their graduation selfies have been warned that they could be unwittingly aiding fraudsters.
Prospects, which has been appointed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to clamp down on bogus higher education institutions, said that sellers of fake qualifications could use photos posted online to copy the latest certificate designs.
Universities have been warned that they could be making the situation worse by retweeting photos that have been posted on Twitter.
Jayne Rowley, director of Prospects’ Higher Education Degree Datacheck service, said logos, signatures, stamps, holograms and wording could be easily copied on to fake certificates and passed off as genuine.
“Each year we see thousands of graduation selfies innocently tweeted by students and retweeted by their universities,” Ms Rowley said. “Added to the eternal gallery of images online, they give anyone in the business of counterfeit degree certificates the latest designs.
“We’re contacting university social media teams to advise them not to include certificates in their photo tweets and to advise their students the same.”
Ms Rowley added: “Websites selling genuine-looking certificates for a few pounds rely on getting access to real certificates for their fakes to pass muster with recruiters.
“None of us would upload a copy of our passport or driving licence, nor give out our bank details. We should regard our degree certificates as precious and private information to be guarded.”