Verifying the monthly income of a potential tenant is an important part of the rental screening process. The most common way to show tenants proof of income is to provide pay stubs, which show tenants’ earnings, year-to-date salary-related information, and deductions. Ensuring that a rental applicant can afford the monthly rent helps ensure that they pay the rent on time.
Unfortunately, creating fake salary stubs is very easy.
Many online companies offer fake check stubs for a small fee. Some say they help legitimate freelancers or self-employed people to prove their earnings for a rental application. However, for legitimate reasons or not, salary stubs are still fake. And it is impossible to know whether the salary information is real.
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How to identify a fake salary stub
The difference between a fake and a real salary stub can be spot challenging. But some telling signs can help you identify fake stubs during the application process, such as errors, a professional appearance and missing information.
Here are some things to look for to determine if the applicant has paid the actual salary stub.
1. Lack of professionalism
See if the check stub looks professional. It’s rare for a real company to create great documentation that looks vague, has spelling errors, or uses strange fonts. Also, make sure that all the letters and decimal points are aligned evenly. A doctoral pay stub may contain text or statistics that cross the line with the rest of the information.
2. Number of goals
Is the applicant’s monthly income quite close to a thousand? On the face of it, there may seem to be a slight difference between earning $ 3,000 and $ 2996.30. However, which image seems more realistic? People rarely take home paychecks with a round number.
3. Characters instead of numbers
It is not uncommon for fake pay-check stubs to use capital O instead of zero. The difference may be subtle, but it may be a sign that the stub is fake.
4. Fake stubs usually have inconsistencies
Valid pay stubs always contain consistent information. Check that all personal information – name, address and social security number – matches the other official documents provided by the tenant. There may also be information listed in multiple locations. It’s important to make sure it all matches.
5. Do not add statistics
If you suspect a fake check stub, do the math to see if the numbers match. Earnings and deductions should be easy to calculate. However, if there is a miscalculation, it could be a red flag.
Being a homeowner can be fun – if you do it right
No matter how great you are at finding a good rental property deal, you can lose everything if you do not manage your property properly. Being a landlord means night phone calls, expensive evictions, or daily frustrations with ungrateful tenants.
Use other income verification methods
It is not possible to tell from the original check stub to the fake stub just by looking at it. Some check stub services make fake stubs that look like real things. If you are a landlord or property owner, it is best to use additional methods to verify income.
Here are some ways you can actually test pay stubs to strengthen your income verification process.
Request Form W-2
It may be helpful for tenants to request a W-2. But, of course, this form can be forged. However, making a fake W-2 is more challenging than a pay stub. You can use the same method to check the tax statement for pay stub.
Call their current employer
In the rental application, you should request employment references from previous and current employers of the tenant. Generally, if the applicant knows that you will call their boss, they are less likely to commit pay stub fraud.
Employers are not obligated to disclose exactly how much an employee earns. However, you can determine where they work and their location.
Of course, it is also possible to forge a company’s letterhead. So always do an online search to verify the company address and contact number so you can talk to the actual employer.
Request a bank statement
A tenant who has nothing to hide in his money can give a bank statement. The statement should show the applicant’s wages as a deposit from the employer. This figure matches the pay stub information.
Ask the tenant to request Form 4506
To be sure about an applicant’s income and ability to pay regular rent, you can ask them to fill out Form 4506. This application allows the IRS to disclose a copy of the applicant’s tax return to a third party in this case, the landlord. You can use this income verification method if someone is self-employed or works in a gig economy.
Run a credit check
You can also run your own credit check to verify the rent applicant’s ability to pay the rent. If you use property management software, you should have the feature to request a credit report. You can include this function in an online rental application and charge a potential tenant for it.
Always work hard
Unfortunately, it may not be possible to find every fake salary stub or fraudulent application. Therefore, thorough and robust tenant screening is crucial.
In the rental application, you can insist on at least two forms of income verification. Then you can verify that the actual income is enough to cover the cost of rent. It is also good to check the references of their employer and previous landlord and run credit and background checks.
Remember, getting a bad tenant out of an apartment is harder than allowing them to sign a lease. Trust your instincts and do your best before approving the rental application.