A fifth of CVs submitted by job applicants include "significant lies", employers have been warned.

The trend of fabricating or omitting material information with a view to boosting job prospects is growing s trongly, according to employee screening specialist, The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG).

It said a recent study had revealed that 20 per cent of CVs lie about about applicants' academic qualifications and omit material matters such as county court judgments. The picture emerged from a study of more than 3,700 CVs submitted by job applicants in 2006.

TRAG said the data showed that discrepancies on candidates' CVs are becoming more serious and are not merely simple mistakes.

Other inaccuracies screened for by TRAG's specialist employment screening unit over the last year range from discrepancies in employment and academic dates to bankruptcy and other credit infringements.

The results also show that the number of CVs that contain discrepancies is on the increase with more than 50 per cent of those examined including one or more inaccuracy.

Sal Remtulla, head of employee screening at TRAG, said: "This year's results have yet again brought to our attention how unscrupulous candidates can be when applying for jobs, and highlight their apparent lack of conscience towards potential new employers.

"The serious nature of these discrepancies emphasises the need for heightened attention during the recruitment process."

TRAG cited these cases as among the worst and most blantant lies:

* A financial services candidate claimed he had worked for three months in Japan before resigning to return to the UK. A reference said that the candidate had "left in traumatic circumstances".

When questioned further, the referee told TRAG that the candidate was arrested and charged with shoplifting and assaulting a shop assistant, for which he was fined and returned to the UK.

* One potential recruit for an FSA-registered position was found to have been the subject of an internal investigation by her previous employer, which revealed that she had been divulging sensitive information to a competitor. The results of this investigation were reported to the Authority. The company further advised that the candidate resigned as a consequence, as there had been a break-down in the relationship between employer and employee.

* A candidate for a manufacturing company declared that he had been dismissed by one of his former employers - which was subsequently confirmed. This was not, however, the only occasion that the candidate's employment had been terminated.

The candidate's most recent employer was only prepared to confirm his dates of employment, although there were other comments to be made. Yet another previous employer confirmed that he had been fired due to his bad attitude, poor work and poor time-keeping although this was not what the candidate had stated as his reason for leaving.

* One candidate for an American investment bank stated that he attended a prestigious UK university on undergraduate and post-graduate courses and provided copies of his graduation certificates to the HR department.

The university's student records department advised TRAG that the candidate was never a registered student and had never been awarded any qualification.

The candidate's certificates were forgeries and were not issued by the university. A new university in the same city was contacted and confirmed that the candidate actually attended their university but left without graduating.

* Credit checks conducted on a potential recruit of an investment bank revealed that the candidate had five county court judgements registered against his name, for a total amount of #3,330, at an undeclared address.

Credit referencing databases also indicated that a bankruptcy order was issued against the candidate.