With the rise of the internet, a number of businesses providing fake references have sprung up offering services to people wanting to get hired at any cost in a competitive job market. So how can companies protect themselves from calling up fake references and making potentially bad hires? CareerBuilder released a study in November of 2012 citing that 30 percent of surveyed employers have caught a fake reference on a candidate’s application. One way to avoid the problem of fake references, then, is to not place great weight on the references provided by candidates. Though it’s a good idea to get references on a candidate from previous employers before asking your candidates to participate in a digital job interview, HR professionals looking to verify a candidate’s character can also use LinkedIn to check references by finding common contacts. Additionally, a reputable background vetting service can easily identify fake reference and can provide guarantees of this in their statement of work. Hiring a validation service isn’t always possible, especially for companies with smaller budgets. In that case, it’s always a good idea to do the legwork yourself: take the time to find the reference on LinkedIn or another database, and confirm the information on that person’s profile that he or she worked at the same organization as the candidate at the same time. Especially for important positions, this can be a valuable method of collecting information about a candidate. Instead of speaking with the references provided by the candidate, also consider asking those references who else knew the candidate, and asking for that person’s information instead. Consider the fact that everyone who is ever fired from your company likely walked in the door with great references. Do your due diligence when screening candidates: talk to as many supervisors as you can, and verify identities as much as possible. And when in doubt, remember that it will cost you less to hire an organization to run a thorough background check than it will to fire an employee and hire a new one.