Fake Pay Stubs and Employment Verification [What to Know]

Nowadays, it’s even easier for dishonest renters to fake pay stubs and employment verification for rental applications. Many online companies offer effortless methods to create counterfeit pay stubs. But why would someone go through the trouble of faking a pay stub? Well, people interested in renting an apartment but do not meet the income requirements can print out fake pay stubs to make it appear as if they earn a higher salary. Unfortunately, this activity jeopardizes both the applicant and the rental property. If the prospective tenant is actually less financially secure than they claim, they might struggle to pay the monthly rent in the future, which could eventually lead to a costly and time-consuming eviction process.

Regrettably, making a counterfeit pay stub takes approximately one minute and requires a payment of around five dollars. These forged pay stubs appear authentic and are almost impossible to tell apart from genuine ones. However, there are warning signs that all landlords and property managers should be aware of.

We’ll provide you with all the information you need to identify fake pay stubs below, but here are the key signs to look out for:

  • Numbers that are perfectly rounded
  • Documentation that appears unprofessional
  • Mixing up of 0s and Os
  • Inconsistent basic information throughout the document

Fake Pay Stubs and Employment Verification Steps

To steer clear of this scenario at any expense, here are tips on detecting fake pay stubs and employment verification information.

1. The pay stub looks extremely unprofessionalThe agencies responsible for generating fake pay stubs are usually not accountants and HR personnel. They are unlikely to create messy, confusing documents that are hard to understand. When examining your applicant’s pay stub, pay attention to the fine details. Everything should be clear and readable, not blurry, and all numbers and characters should align correctly. Additionally, there should be no spelling mistakes – otherwise, it is a sign that something is wrong and you may be dealing with fake pay stub and employment information.
2. Check if everything is flawlessly roundedWhen was the last time your paycheck was a nice, even number without any extra dollars or cents? Most likely, never. One of the initial things to look out for when examining an applicant’s pay stub is to ensure that their monthly earnings aren’t perfectly rounded to the nearest hundred or thousand. If they are, it’s a sign that the person generated fake a pay stub with an online template. That’s because paychecks are rarely rounded figures.
4. Incoherent dataWhile inspecting to detect fake pay stubs and employment verification, a dishonest applicant may omit certain sections containing personal details while submitting the document. Pay stubs and similar official papers typically include the individual’s name, address, social security number, and other personal information in multiple locations. Therefore, ensure that there are no discrepancies in these sections.
3. O’s used instead of 0’sA tiny yet telling detail to consider is if there’s a distinction between the uppercase letter ‘O’ and the numeral ‘0’. Zeros should be slightly taller and shaped like ovals, while capital O’s are generally more rounded. It’s worth noting that a competent accountant would never commit such an oversight, so any check stubs displaying this error should be viewed as highly suspicious.

How to Detect a Fake W2 Form

Along with pay stubs, applicants may occasionally provide additional fraudulent documents as proof of income when they fail to meet specific rental application criteria. Here are steps to detect a counterfeit W2 form.

1. Pay attention to details

Go through the checklist and verify for identical problems. Consider the following:

  • Does their W2 indicate an exact gross income of $1,000,000 for the previous year?
  • Is it unclear with jumbled characters?
  • Does their address differ between the pay stub and the W2?

2. Be thorough in your research

Ensure that the document originates from a legitimate company. Perform a quick research on the company with the following tips:

  • Check for reviews.
  • Visit their website, and
  • Look up their BBB ratings.

If your investigation confirms the existence of a genuine company, evaluate its credibility. Is it based in the U.S., or do you need to verify if the applicant is a remote worker? Does their website appear reliable, providing concrete information about the company’s activities? If all these criteria are met, then the company passes the verification.

3. Confirm the applicant’s job situation

The final step to verify a W2 is to contact the company mentioned by the applicant. They should be able to verify the applicant’s employment status and their date of hire. When requesting references during the application process, specifically ask for a reference from their current employer.

This step helps when screening potential tenants. If an applicant is aware that you can contact their employer, they are less likely to attempt pay stub or W2 fraud. If the applicant claims to be self-employed, ask for a reference from a previous employer.

Ensure that you reach out to the references they provide to assist you in creating a more comprehensive character assessment of the person. Request an office number that can be verified through a quick Google search, rather than a cell phone number. This will reduce your chances of inadvertently conversing with an accomplice of the dishonest applicant.

What to Do If Someone Submits Fake Pay Stubs and Employment Verification

Have you been given a phony pay stub or fake proof of income such as employment verification? Well, you want to avoid violating any law under the Fair Housing Act. Thus, it is best to be cautious and refrain from accusing the prospective tenant of fraud. Instead, follow these steps to avoid getting into trouble as a landlord:

  1. Inform the renter that you are experiencing difficulty in confirming their income proof based on the documents they have submitted.
  2. Ask for further income verification, such as two months of bank statements and the most recent two years of tax returns.
  3. Specify a deadline for the submission of these documents and adhere to it.

While these measures may cause additional inconvenience for honest renters, they are likely to comply with your request if they genuinely need to rent your property. On the other hand, dishonest applicants will quickly realize that they may get caught and look for an apartment elsewhere.

If you suspect that a counterfeit pay stub has gone unnoticed and you have already accepted the applicant as your tenant, there are still actions you can take. Before discussing the matter with the tenant, seek legal advice and collect evidence to support your case. This situation is likely to result in an eviction, so be prepared.

Alongside reviewing the provided lists during the rental application process, you also want to implement a comprehensive tenant screening procedure and inform all applicants about it right from the start. This involves running credit, background, and eviction checks to gain a complete understanding of your potential tenant.

Read also: If you buy a house with tenants can you kick them out?

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