How Property Managers Can Spot a Fake Paystub

Published: March 13, 2024 by Ted Wentzel

Ensuring the reliability of tenant applications is paramount to running a successful property management business. But with an exponential rise in prospective residents using fake financial documents to inflate income and employment status, how do property managers navigate and detect fake paystubs without stepping on a landmine of liability?

The marketplace of deception

Paystub generator websites

As you embrace the commitment to diligence, be aware that some legitimate websites can be unknowingly used by fraudsters to create counterfeit financial documents. Knowledge is your ally here. At the touch of a button, even the minimally tech inclined can produce pay stubs that appear convincing. There are dozens of sites that offer paystub generator software, including:

  • Design and editing software websites that are accessible to people beyond just creative professionals.
  • Popular e-commerce platform stores that host apps capable of creating paystubs.
  • Mobile app stores that allow users to download apps for use on all major mobile devices.

Key indicators of a fake paystub

Remember, as a property manager or owner, you are responsible for scrutinizing these documents to protect your business interests. Use your awareness to be vigilant, verifying every piece of information to ensure the credibility of prospective tenants. While some of these falsified paystubs may appear to be legitimate, they are usually not perfect. Here are some quick checks which may help you spot a fake or trigger a deeper review quickly.

  1. Watch out for elusive typos

Erroneous spelling, particularly in company names and financial terms, is a big red flag. Keep your eyes peeled for these unruly characters.

  1. Distorted watermarks

A legitimate paystub should carry official watermarks or specific symbols that indicate its authenticity. However, be on the lookout for watermarks that seem off — sometimes, they’re too conspicuous or amateurish, which can be a tell-tale sign of forgery. Authentic watermarks should be subtle and consistent with the company’s brand.

  1. Crunching the numbers

Inaccurate calculations can unravel a fake paystub. If the numbers just don’t add up or pay dates vary inexplicably, you should investigate further.

  1. Inconsistent font

Professional payroll systems stick to a consistent font. If you notice various font styles and sizes, it’s worth investigating further. Authenticity lies in uniformity.

  1. Going logo-less?

A missing company logo, or one that looks like it was copied from a low-resolution image on the internet, should trigger suspicion.

  1. Unusual tax deductions

Abnormal tax deductions could indicate someone’s fiddling with the figures. Brush up on your tax knowledge or consult with an expert if something seems off-the-wall.

Final food for thought

Remember, having the right knowledge and tools empowers you to make informed decisions, safeguarding your property from potential fraudsters. Be diligent, stay informed, and leverage technology to support your processes.

Action steps to take today

  1. Educate your team: Make sure everyone involved in the application review process knows what to look for.
  2. Develop a standard operating procedure: Update your existing (or develop) Standard Operating Procedures: As new ways of gaming the system arise, make sure your particular procedures are keeping up with the times. For example, include steps for the following:
    • Understand tenant screening laws in your area.
    • Create consistent resident screening criteria.
    • Check credit report and background.
    • Verify employment and income.
    • Review rental history and evictions (if any).
    • Check criminal record with multi-state search.
    • Interview residents before signing a lease.
    • Follow a consistent policy when accepting or rejecting applicants.
  3. Embrace technology: Income and employment verification solutions can verify income directly from a trusted data source and avoid the paystub predicament altogether. Consider implementing a verification system that leaves no room for guesswork.

Our verification solution, Experian VerifyTM, provides accurate, efficient, and compliant income and employment verification services. With Experian Verify, property managers can navigate the complexities of tenant-related income and employment verification with ease, ensuring they are adhering to Fair Housing laws and detecting fraudulent behavior.

To learn more about how Experian Verify can benefit your property business, please contact us and visit us online.

Learn more

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