The tenant screening process ensures that your prospective tenants can pay their rent on time, and that they can afford your property in the first place. To do this, you need to require proof of income from your prospective tenants… but you shouldn’t stop there. These days, it’s easier than ever for someone to twist the information in their rental application.
There are companies out there that create fake paystubs for people who want to make it seem like they’re making more money. These services are incredibly cheap, costing around five dollars per paystub. All tenants have to do is to type their information and write the amount of money that they’re pretending to make.
To succeed in property management, you need to learn how to spot this scam. In this article, we’ll teach you how to tell if a paycheck has been counterfeited so that your tenants don’t make a fool out of you.
Why do tenants fake their paystubs in the first place?
Property owners and property managers want to be certain that the tenant can afford the rent. This is why they require their potential tenants to submit proof of income. In cities such as New York, property owners can even require renters to have an annual income that’s at least forty (yes, four-zero) times the monthly rent.
Some tenants so desperately want to meet the property owner’s income requirements, that they end up creating counterfeit pay stubs. This puts the property owner at risk. If the tenant isn’t as financially capable as they claimed, they’ll be unable to pay their rent on time. That’s why landlords need to learn how to spot this scam.
How can you spot a fake paystub?
Luckily, Luxury Property Care has dealt with this type of deception for years. Here are the common signs of a sketchy paystub, according to our South Florida property managers.
#1 The pay is rounded up
When have you ever received a perfectly rounded paycheck? Probably never, right? That’s because real paychecks aren’t rounded up. One of the common signs of a paycheck scam is a rounded net pay. So, if your potential tenant shows you their paycheck of $2,000, you should be skeptical. A paycheck that comes to $1,998.92 is more realistic than $2,000. It tells you that the tenant only filled out an online form.
#2 The paycheck looks unprofessional
Paychecks appear professional because they were prepared by professionals. CPAs and HR staff are used to putting together paychecks, so the chances of them making a mistake are slim to none. Inspect the potential tenant’s documents to see if the digits are aligned. Look for spelling errors. Look for sudden changes in the font style and size. If they’re using Comic Sans, their proof of income is clearly fake.
#3 They use “O” instead of “0”
One way to tell if a paystub has been tampered with is when the zeroes have been replaced with the capital letter “O”. If you look closely, you’ll notice that zero is oval-shaped, while the capital letter O is a circle. Hence, if $2,081.02 is written as $2,O81.O2, that’s a sure sign that the stub isn’t authentic. It’s unlikely for a legitimate company to make this kind of mistake.
#4 The information is inconsistent
Scammers tend to forget to cross-check their information. When the information on their paycheck doesn’t match the information on their other documents, consider this a red flag. Scrutinize their application to see if their personal information (e.g. address, social security number, birthdate) is consistent. A simple mistake such as a misplaced zero is a warning sign that the tenant is making things up.
Pro Tip: Work with a property management company that uses a property management portal. This way, you can store your potential tenant’s documents in one place and download them anytime.
#5 The numbers don’t add up
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple math mistake to spoil a scam. If you’re suspicious that your potential tenant’s paystub has been counterfeited, it’s time to take out your calculator. Manually calculate their earnings to check if they’re correct. If there are errors, this could be a sign of a paystub scam.
What can you do to protect yourself from this scam?
Aside from keeping a keen eye on your potential tenant’s application, you can practice the following to protect yourself from fake paystub scams:
#1 Contact their employer
Tell your potential tenant that, at some point during the screening process, there’s a chance that you’ll call their employer. Their reaction should tell you whether or not the paycheck is real. If they try to convince you not to call, chances are that it’s counterfeited.
If you’re having suspicions, don’t contact their employer through the number in their application form. Some scammers have friends with supporting roles. Instead, your property management company should research the tenant’s company and look for an alternative number.
#2 Request for a bank statement
Cross-check their paycheck to confirm that their income really is their income. Ask your potential tenant to provide you with a copy of their bank statements. As a property owner, you’re within your rights to request these records. If you’re worried that they’ll falsify these, you can verify with their bank once you’ve obtained their bank statements.
#3 Hire a property manager
Property managers have seen it all. They’re familiar with the tricks that tenants try to pull on landlords. Consider hiring a South Florida property management company to help you filter out the fraudsters. You don’t want to approve a tenant that you think is trustworthy, only to find out one month later that they’re deep in debt.
Creating fake paychecks is easy, but detecting them can be difficult. With the help of Luxury Property Care, you can steer clear of this nightmare. Our property managers will ensure that your tenants can actually afford to pay rent, and that they treat your rental with the respect it deserves.