Graduates who post selfies with their degree because they cannot celebrate at face-to-face ceremonies risk fuelling fraud, the higher education watchdog has warned.
University leavers have been urged not to publish photographs of themselves on social media brandishing their degree certificates as it alerts counterfeiters to the latest logos, signatories and wording.
The warning comes amid concerns that graduates will be more likely to share pictures online since they are being denied their usual graduation photo opportunities due to face-to-face ceremonies being cancelled this year.
Prospects, which runs the Hedd Degree Fraud Service on behalf of the Office for Students, has issued the warning as it expects the number of graduates posting selfies to rise.
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 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.