Falsifying records is never a good idea, and the ramification of falsifying records depends on the circumstances involved. The entity involved, kind of records and whether or not a third party relied on those records all figure into how harsh the outcome will be when records are falsified. Another is whether the person gained financially or otherwise as a result of the falsified record.
Fraud & Record Falsification
Falsification of records that constitutes fraud brings the harshest punishment. West's Encyclopedia of American Law Dictionary defines fraud as "...dishonesty calculated for advantage." State and federal statutes cover fraud and the penalty for committing fraud. An example of record falsification being fraud might be if a receiving dock employee records an incoming shipment of 10 computers; however, instead of recording 10, he records nine and takes the tenth computer home. A fraud conviction may bring anywhere from a term of probation or community service to a multiyear prison sentence. Falsifying records not only applies to paper records, but computer records and other electronic media.
Bankruptcy Fraud: Record Falsification
Bankruptcy cases are ripe for record falsification. Many people falsify records to hide assets, debts or to claim assets to which they are not entitled. Falsification of records in a bankruptcy case may be considered fraud under federal law, and such allegations are typically investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While sometimes a person convicted of bankruptcy fraud may receive probation, most of the bankruptcy fraud cases result in prison time.
Falsification of records may also occur when dealing with a public agency. At the motor vehicle bureau, a person with a poor driving record might apply for a license using a forged birth certificate. Also, when applying for welfare benefits, a person may complete the application claiming additional residents of the home, so that the benefits will be a larger amount. While these actions could also be considered for criminal prosecution, many times the agency or department will take its own action, such as barring that person from making an application for a number of years.
Private Sector Falsification of Records
Falsifying records in private sector businesses may also result in some type of penalty. While a fraud charge is always possible whenever there is a falsification of records, many times a company will handle a falsification of record claim internally. For example, if an employee provides false high school transcripts to his employer, the employee may be fired when it is discovered that the transcripts are phoney. Also falsifying an application for insurance, if discovered, will void that insurance policy, and the company will not be obligated to pay any claims.