CSCS, owned by the CITB, issues cards to construction workers to verify the competence of operatives on-site in a given job role. There are varying types of CSCS cards that cover you to carry out different tasks such as labouring, supervising, carpentry, bricklaying, etc. However, there are people out there who will take the easy route to gain a CSCS card, and that is by buying a fake.
Under the Fraud Act of 2006, it is illegal to purchase or produce fake CSCS cards as they will be used to defraud employers. This can lead to a lot of issues and could possibly lead to deaths if someone who is not properly trained, carries out a potentially dangerous task on-site. That’s why we’ve produced a guide to spotting fake CSCS cards so you can ensure that your site stays secure.
The Issues of Fake CSCS Cards
A fake CSCS card can cause many issues on-site as the purpose of the CSCS card scheme is to increase site safety. One of the main issues with using a fake CSCS card is that you put yourself and others in danger when you are working. As construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, it is essential that everyone who works on-site has the proper training and health & safety knowledge required to carry out their role. With fake qualifications, you don’t need any training and you will be free to work without any knowledge of health & safety. This would put yourself or other employees at risk of injury or death.
The second issue with Fake CSCS cards relates to site management. If you are allowing fake CSCS cards on your site, either knowingly or because proper checks aren’t done, then you will be liable if the employee causes injury, death or damage.
The Signs of a Fake CSCS Card
There are a few signs to spot a fake CSCS card but there are a few variations of CSCS cards depending on the issue date, so you need to make sure that you know the differences.
CSCS Cards Issued Before December 2019
CSCS Cards Issued Before May 2020 and after December 2019
- The cardholder’s full name appears on the card, instead of just their initials and last name.
- The HS&E tested holofoil no longer appears on the card.
CSCS Cards Issued After June 2020
- The smart chip embedded in the card is no longer visible
- There is a contactless symbol next to the cardholder’s photograph
Name on the CSCS Card
The first way to check a CSCS card is to ensure that the name on the card matches a form of ID such as a driver’s license. If the name on the card does not match their ID, then there’s a good chance that it is a fake as ID must be shown on attendance to a Health, Safety, and Environment Test so they should match. The other possibility is that the card is not theirs and they have borrowed one from a friend or relative, this is also a crime under the Fraud Act 2006.
Along with checking that the name matches is just the start. The formatting must match the date of the card. As you can see above, if the card was issued before December 2019, the card will have “Mr/Mrs/Miss/Dr”, the first initial, and the surname. If the card was issued after December 2019, it will display the full name.
The expiry date is the next key identifier. CSCS cards usually last 5 years with the exception of Red CSCS cards which last a year. If the card is over 5 years away from expiry, then it’s very likely to be fake. If the expiry date also doesn’t match the format of the card variation then it should raise your suspicion.
All CSCS cards should have a registration number to allow for identification. This number is unique to the cardholder and will allow you to check the validity of the card. You can use this number to check with the CITB card checker.
Smart Card Microchip
The smart card microchip is on all CSCS cards. However, the latest card will not have a visible microchip, it will have a contactless symbol next to the picture. This can be used to bring up the operative’s profile and verify the card using an NFC reader.
The picture on the front of the CSCS card acts as a way to verify the identity of the person presenting it. But, if the card is a fake, then you can’t use this as your only guide. It may raise suspicion though if the image isn’t in the specified CSCS format. CSCS dictates that the picture must be a passport-style photo against a plain background.
All CSCS cards have a hologram in the top left. This verifies that the card is officially backed by CSCS You’ll also find this on CPCS and NPORS cards. This hologram is tricky to fake for forgers but not impossible. So don’t take having this as a confirmation that a card is real.
CITB Card Checker
The best way to make sure that a CSCS card is valid and genuine is to use the CITB card checker. The registration number on the front of the card can be used to find the operator profile and will only show qualifications that CITB has knowledge of. If no CSCS card is showing up, then the card is likely to be fake.
What if I spot a Fake CSCS Card?
If you spot a fake CSCS card, you should follow this process:
- Retain the card if possible
- Make photocopies of front and back
- Record cardholder’s name and address if possible
- Ask cardholder where the card was obtained from
- Contact the local police and report the matter*
- Refuse access to site (subject to company rules)
- Forward copies of all evidence to:
The Operations Team
85 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 4TQ marked “SUSPECTED FRAUDULENT CARD”
- Or email firstname.lastname@example.org making sure to include copies of all evidence
Who Has Been Caught for CSCS Forgeries?
There has been a large investigation into CSCS Card forgeries including a BBC undercover documentary. However, the cards that were produced from that scam were genuine as they were a result of corrupt employees at the test centre.
Andrew Weeks is the most publicised case of CSCS Card forgeries as he claimed to be able to forge any qualification and was generating CSCS cards for construction workers. This led to a joint investigation from many of the skills cards organisations such as CITB, ECS, and CSCS.
Andrew Weeks was sentenced to Three Years and Eight Months in prison at Warwickshire Crown Court and was forced to pay £6000 for copyright infringement.
How to get a real CSCS Card
After reading this article, we’d hope you’d be put off buying fake CSCS cards as it poses a serious safety concern for everyone on site. If you’d like to learn more about applying for CSCS cards, we have great guides to teach you the process of each card.