For screening a prospective renter, one important aspect to take care of is to verify the monthly income. The renters show proof of their income mostly by pay stubs or pay slips. These have information on the yearly salary of the renter, renter’s earnings, and deductions. Verifying if the tenant can afford to pay the rent will give you the satisfaction that they will be paying the rent on time.
Unluckily, producing counterfeit pay slips is not that difficult. You can get one made online by paying a small fee. There can be debate that this is legitimate as it helps self-employed renters or freelancers to prove that they can afford the rent. But there is no doubt that the pay slips made this way are not genuine and don’t depict the correct pay information.
How to identify a forged pay stub?
It can be difficult to identify the difference between a genuine and a fake pay slip. However, there are a few tricks that can help spot counterfeit stubs, for example, mistakes, an improper look and feel, and omitted information. You can look out for the following things to identify if the prospective tenant has given a genuine pay stub or a fake one.
1. Lack of professionalism
Observe the pay stub to determine if it looks professional. Real organizations don’t create improper documents that seem vague, have spelling/grammatical mistakes, or have unprofessional fonts. Furthermore, make sure that the entire decimal points and characters have an even lining. A modified pay slip may have out of line numbers or text.
2. Round numbers
Check if the prospective tenant’s monthly income rounded to the closest thousand. If you don’t look closely, the figures $5,000 and $4996.30 seem to be not much different. Nevertheless, look closely to identify which figure looks more realistic. The round number pay slip is probably fake.
3. Numbers replaced by letters
Fake pay slips can have an O in place of a zero. There is a slight visual difference; however this shows that the slip is probably counterfeit.
4. Counterfeit pay slips are usually non-consistent on information
Genuine pay slips mostly have steady information. Ensure that all information—address, name, and social security number is same as other documents provided by the applicant. Also ensure the entire information given at various places matches up.
5. The numbers don’t match up
If you have reservations about a pay stub, calculate if the numbers add up. There shouldn’t be any difficulty calculating income and deductions. But, if the calculations are not correct, you should immediately be concerned.
Use additional methods to check earnings
Sometimes it gets difficult to tell a fake pay slip from a genuine one by looking at it. Some pay slip services create slips that look genuine. If you are a property owner, using additional methods to ensure tenant’s income is vital.
Following are some of the ways by which you can check the genuineness of pay slips.
Ask for a W-2 form
Requesting for the renter’s W-2 can be of help. Nonetheless, it is also possible to produce a fake W-2 form. However, it’s more difficult to make a fake W-2 than a pay stub. Same methods can be used for verifying this form as for the pay slips.
Check with their present employer
It’s a good idea to ask for employment references from the applicant’s employers on the rental application. Normally, the applicants don’t forge the pay stubs if they know you can call their employers. The employers may not tell you the exact earnings of the applicant. However, you can check their position in the company they are working in. It is also possible that an applicant produces a fake company letterhead. Its better search for the company’s contact online so you can verify the information provided with the actual employer.
Ask for bank statements
If a renter is legitimate, they will provide genuine bank statements. The statement must depict the renter’s salary as a deposit from the employing company. The amount here must be the same as the one provided on the pay slips.
Ask the tenant to request Form 4506
You can ask the applicant to fill out Form 4506, to ensure they will pay the rent on time. This application permits the IRS to issue a copy of the applicant’s tax return to another party, for example the property owner. This income verification technique can also be used to determine the income of self-employed people or people who work in the gig economy.
Make a credit check
Another way is to check the credit history of the applicant to verify if they are able to pay the rent. There is a feature to request credit history in most property management soft wares. The payment for this can also be charged to the prospective renter.
Always be thorough in the verification
Unluckily, spotting every counterfeit pay slip or fraudulent document may be challenging. Hence carrying out comprehensive and vigorous screening for tenants is vital to renting out your property. You can ask for at least two forms of earning verification with the rental application form. You should ensure that the renter’s income is sufficient to pay the rent.
Moreover, it is also a good idea to verify the genuineness of the applicant from their employer and former landlords. Also, check the credit history of your prospective tenant and run a thorough background check. You should be aware that getting rid of a bad tenant is more difficult than carrying out a detailed background check on one. Always check the rental application meticulousness before signing the lease with a tenant.