How to Recognize Fake Pay Stubs

November 30th, 2020
How to Recognize Fake Pay Stubs

It’s more important than ever to remain vigilant against falsified information and to thoroughly screen tenants. Since landlords are looking for applicants who are going to be able to pay the rent each month, verifying income is a crucial part of the screening process. A common way for tenants to show proof of income is by submitting pay stubs.

This post highlights ways you can easily spot fake pay stubs so that you don’t end up with a tenant who is less financially secure than they claim to be.

5 Tips for Spotting Fake Pay Stubs

ways to spot a fake pay stub

As part of the rental process, landlords request various documents from tenants in order to ensure they are trustworthy. Unfortunately, these documents can be falsified.

Applicants can quickly and easily create fake pay stubs online using various websites and then submit them as proof of income. However, despite the fact that these pay stubs may look official at first glance, they often contain small mistakes that make it clear they’re illegitimate. Below are five easy ways to spot fake pay stubs.

1. Os Used in Place of Zeros

If you spot an “O” where there should be the number “0,” that’s a good indication the pay stub is fraudulent. It’s very unlikely a business would make a mistake like this.

2. Round Numbers

It’s very unlikely that someone would be paid out in a perfectly round number, particularly after taxes have been deducted. If the pay stub shows an amount such as $2,000, you should have some questions.

3. Inconsistent or Incorrect Information

If the information on the pay stub lacks consistency or is clearly incorrect, this is a huge red flag. For example, a pay stub could be fake if it shows that year-to-date gross income is less than year-to-date net pay or if it contains incorrect math.

4. Missing Information

Ensure that no pertinent information is missing. In addition to gross pay, deductions, and net pay, a pay stub should also display the applicant's name and address as well as the company’s name and address. If the document fails to provide any of this information, it could be forged.

5. Unprofessional Appearance

Most professional documents appear as such. In general, a legitimate pay stub should not contain the following:

  • Unique font types
  • Alignment issues
  • Blurry text

Other Methods To Verify Income

ways to verify proof of income

Asking for multiple forms of proof of income can help minimize your chances of being scammed. As with pay stubs, you’ll still want to do your due diligence and ensure to the best of your ability the document is legitimate.

Additional ways you can verify proof of income include:

  • W-2 Tax Form: This tax document reports an employee’s wage and salary information.
  • Letter From Employer: This formal document, also known as an employment verification letter, can be requested to verify the income or salary earned by an applicant.
  • 1099 Tax Form: This tax document, generally used by independent contractors, reports the total amount of payments an individual received from a single person or entity.
  • Bank Statements: These statements showcase a summary of an applicant’s transactions, generally over the course of a month.
  • Social Security Statement: This statement shows how much an applicant has been paid in Social Security.
  • IRS Form 1040: Used by U.S. taxpayers to file their annual income tax return.

It’s also a good idea to verify the applicant’s place of employment. Spend a few minutes researching the company noted on the applicant’s documents to ensure it exists. Look for a website and try to verify an office phone number.

Always do your due diligence because unfortunately not everyone is honest and trustworthy. RentSpree offers helpful tools such as an online rental application and tenant screening services to help you through the process.