How to Catch Your Applicants Using Fake References

Fake references are nothing new. It’s well known that sometimes applicants, for one reason or another, have their friends or colleagues pose as their property manager or employer for rental and employment verification. While a simple Google search can help confirm if an applicant is lying to you, if they’re using a professional service, Google won’t be enough.

Unfortunately over the past few years professional services that offer fake employment, rental, and personal references have become prevalent. All you need is an internet connection and the ability to make payments online. While you could verify if the applicant’s written references are valid based off property ownership or business registration, these services have found a way around that.

For just $5, this service will act as your applicant’s landlord, employer, professor, or personal reference. Your applicant can even get fraudulent paystubs for a registered business for just $10 more. will provide your applicant with everything from fake employment and job references, to even a fraudulent degree. Their Employment, “Blue Collar Plan”, for $100 includes an established company website, street address, local phone number and fax line, corporate voice mail greeting, and a live reference to act as their supervisor. Their landlord reference plan is just as scary. With a subscription of $100 per month, your applicant can get a fake property management website, multiple landlords, live leasing agents, and a real address for their leasing company to vouch for them.

It should be noted that the applicants who use these services to lie on their application are not all convicted criminals out to get your community. Some might simply be worried about a bad reference from their real supervisor or property manager, but still the act of lying on a rental application should be grounds for denial. If you find out the truth after the lease has been signed it can be grounds for an eviction. That being said, determining what on the application is true or false is becoming significantly difficult.

Olga Piña, Information Services Dept. Manager of CIC, recommends that you should “not base decisions on rental or employment verifications, but heavily on the credit, eviction, bad check search, criminal history, and Experian RentBureau.” Even if your applicant lies, you can determine through your background screening report if they meet your written rental requirements. This not only objectifies your final decision, but you might even discover their fabrications through their background report!

Ultimately, incorporating resident screening into your rental policy is the first line of defense against these false verification services. While references are important and definitely should be reviewed, your background report has verifiable credit and eviction information, criminal and sex offender records. What speaks more the truth than that?

Have you ever caught an applicant lying on their rental application? How serious was the lie? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe!

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