Be Wary, Residents can Forge their own Credit Report

In this day and age, most Americans have become extremely critical about the type of information they receive. Whether they’re analyzing the true sugar amount of their favorite Summer-time drinks or the overwhelming number of articles coining the phrase ‘fake news’, unfortunately you can’t stop there. With a simple internet connection, your rental applicants can now forge their own credit reports.

While most property management companies have a set background screening provider (with credit) that they trust, and request their applicants’ reports for them, there are a few cases where a rental applicant might try to get around this. For starters, your applicant might rationalize bringing in their own report because they simply want to avoid negatively impacting their credit score with another credit inquiry. Or, maybe the applicant simply wants to get around paying an additional fee. Even if the applicant justifies that they already have their copy of their background report from a recent rental application, in any case, do not let the applicant use a previously pulled credit report.

credit template

If you’ve been a long-time reader, you’ll know that employment references and paystubs can be forged. With how rapidly technology is advancing, it’s no surprise that credit reports can now be counterfeited as well. PDF files of credit reports that look like they came from Experian® (like this one), Equifax® (like this one), or TransUnion® can be easily taken and altered through a pdf filler Photoshop to hold whatever information the applicant wants. Even the most unsophisticated criminal can alter the dates on their old, poor scoring credit report.

Although the credit report your applicant has given you might look like it’s legitimate and was pulled within a few days, it’s best not to risk it. As the algorithm used to calculate your applicant’s score depends on the purpose of the report (for example, for a car dealership vs. a bank loan), your rental applicant’s final credit score could be distinctly different. Not to mention, your company might have pre-written standards about acceptable FICO or VantageScore ranges, but have no guidance as to the non-standard scoring model your applicant’s report has.

Regardless of what reason a rental applicant gives you, do not accept a pre-pulled credit report from an applicant. If the applicant argues that the information on the background check or credit report that you pulled is incorrect (hence them wanting to bring their own in), direct them to your screening provider’s Consumer Disputes Department.

Have you encountered any fraudulent application information before? Let us know what tricks your applicants have tried to pull in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe!


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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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