Identity fraud and fraudulent tenants on the rise

March 21, 2012

Landlord Information

Research done by let insurance services has found that more and more landlords are being hit by fraudulent tenants.

In the first half of 2011 identity fraud attempts had doubled and 50,000 victims of impersonation was reported last year. That’s an astonishing 275 victims a day.

unfortunately identity fraud had been on the rise recently. Landlord and buy to let magazine have reported that due to the credit crunch more people are unable to retrieve credit in their name so they turn to ID theft to get a good credit rating and also get a bank account and credit cards.

The magazine have issued some tips to help reduce tenant fraud…

  • Obtain a credit check – Individuals with good credit histories are generally good tenants.
  • Obtain landlords and employment references. Don’t forget that some landlords just want to get rid of their problem tenants and will therefore give good references. Are the referees with aol/Hotmail/google accounts genuine? We recommend that you ask the applicant to provide further proof, for example copies of payslips or sight of bank statements if you have any doubts.
  • Make sure that your tenancy application forms are completed in full. If an applicant only completes part of it, they may be hiding something.
  • Don’t take everything at face value. Don’t believe anything that you are told and/or what is on the application. You will pick up a lot of information about the applicant when showing them the property. What kind of car does the prospective tenant drive?
  • Take time to compare addresses shown on the application with those shown on the ID documents. Ask for previous utility and telephone (including mobile phone) bills and statements, and check if the name and address and other information matches the information on the application form. If not, why not?
  • Use common sense and gut instinct; this can also be a valuable tool when deciding whether or not you want to rent to a prospective tenant.
  • Adopt procedures including a checklist for screening applicants before they go through the referencing process and train everyone involved on this. If a fraudulent applicant spots a weak spot in your processes they will use it.
  • Checklist to include obtaining ID documents and proof of current residency which you can file online on the Let Insurance Services referencing system.
  • Beware subletting when the tenants have moved in. Make sure that when you carry out your periodic property maintenance checks that the occupier is the same name on the tenancy agreement. There are horror stories of seemingly good tenants not moving in and subletting the property for profit.
  • Take out insurance for legal costs to evict the tenants.*

 

*Landlord & buy to let magazine

 

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