Once you’ve received your degree certificate and moved the tassle on your graduation cap from the right side to the left, you have officially become a graduate! At this momentous occasion, you naturally want to document your memories and take pictures. While taking a few pictures of yourself in your graduation attire alongside your family, teachers, and friends is completely okay, taking pictures with your degree certificate is a whole different story.
Here’s why students should never post images of their degree certificates on social media.
Some Images Should Not Be Shared
Graduation day is filled with excitement and a host of other emotions. Your family is all decked up in their Sunday best and everyone is beaming with pride at your accomplishments. With your degree in hand, you’re likely to experience the strange sensation of reliving all the big moments in your journey which have led up to this point.
With emotions running high and feeling a sense of achievement, it’s only understandable that you’d want to share your moment with people you know via social media. This could include posting pictures on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on.
But here’s where you’re going to have to exercise some caution: posting ‘certificate selfies’ plays right into the hands of fraudsters and con-artists everywhere.
What would a fraudster want with my graduation picture?
Identity theft is a huge problem, and is increasingly becoming more frequent. Essentially, identity theft is the term used to describe when an individual fraudulently takes on another person’s identity. This is done in order to obtain benefits in that individual’s name, for financial advantages, or to obtain credit. All of this may be done for a period without the victim’s knowledge, and ultimately, will result in loss or a number of disadvantages for the victim.
According to Jayne Rowley, the director for The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), which is the UK’s official service for authenticating universities, there has been a 52% increase in identity thefts for individuals under 30 in one year alone.
Incidentally, social media platforms have become prime hunting grounds for con artists, identity thieves, and fraudsters. Rowley and HEDD have spearheaded a campaign to encourage students and universities to keep their degree certificates private.
“We’re contacting all university social media teams to ask them to get the message out to their students and also not to retweet pictures of their graduates holding certificates.”
The Rise of Identity Theft on Social Media
If you don’t have any privacy settings on your social media accounts, anyone and everyone can see and save your pictures. This is obviously undesirable for a number of reasons.
When an image is posted online, Google images picks it up and keeps it in its database. After all, you did just upload the picture onto a public platform.
Once the image has made its way online, it’s there for keeps.
When you post pictures of yourself on graduation day holding your degree certificate, what you’re doing is providing con artists with the perfect template to create fake degree certificates. Using your picture as a reference, they now have all the information they need to produce a duplicate degree certificate which looks legitimate.
In addition to creating fake, duplicate degree certificates, you’re also exposing yourself to great personal risk. Your degree certificate contains a host of information about you including your full name, titles, place of study, and year of graduation. This may not seem like much but it’s important to remember that every bit of information can be used to piece together your identity for the purposes of identity fraud. You need to treat this personal document as you would a passport, driver’s license, or your bank details.
Rowley says: “None of us would put our passports online and we should treat certificates in the same way. Post smiles, not certificates and stay safe.”
Gratuitous Gifts for Scammers
After extensive studies, education fraud chiefs from around the world have found that revealing too much personal information online is like giving your identity to a scammer on a silver platter.
When graduation time comes around, do not post pictures of your degree certificate on any social media platform.
Data shows that those who are in the business of selling fake degrees scour the internet in search of graduation day selfies. Photos posted by graduates give these individuals a clear idea of what the latest degree certificates look like.
Officials stress that images of university/institution logos, crests, holograms, and stamps are extremely easy to copy. Once a fraudster has all of this information, they can easily create fake degree certificates and pass them off to unknowing individuals.
Jayne Rowley along with HEDD is urging all students and institutions to be vigilant. When it comes to posting graduation selfies, it’s not just students who are guilty; it’s the universities themselves, too. Many times, you’ll see the university or institution innocently retweeting images of their students from graduation day. Although done with the best of intentions, these proliferates the image even further across the web.
Counterfeit Degrees are Big Business
Selling counterfeit degrees has become a big and lucrative business. In order to fuel their businesses, con artists scour the eternal galleries of online images in search of graduation day photos.
According to Rowley:
“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.
Significant time and financial investment goes into getting a degree certificate, don’t throw that away by giving unscrupulous people a free pass to a graduate job.”
Everyone knows that graduation day is a huge milestone for graduates. After all of your hard work, it’s only understandable that you’d want to share your accomplishments with your friends and followers on social media. However, sharing pictures of your degree certificate might not be the best idea. If you want to avoid identity theft and help to put an end to the sale of counterfeit degrees, keep your degree certificate selfies private; don’t share pictures of them online.