In most cases, rental fraud begins with a fake identity. You may be unintentionally contributing to rental fraud by leaving yours or others’ personally identifiable information (PII) exposed to the wrong individuals.
Here are 5 common ways that can happen:
1. Leaving prospect’s IDs in an unattended drawer
In Multifamily, it is a standard for leasing staff to take prospects’ IDs before letting them tour the community. While this common practice helps to protect leasing agents’ safety, it also puts prospects’ personal information at risk.
In most cases, prospects’ IDs are left in a drawer, unattended. Since these IDs contain personal information such as a driver’s license number, date of birth, sex, and address, the information can be easily used to forge an identity if they are exposed to the wrong individual.
Chances are when an identity is stolen, it will be used to commit different types of financial fraud, which can include rental fraud at an apartment community.
2. Not shredding office documents or leaving the documents unprotected
Not only do leasing staff deal with returnable IDs such as drivers’ licenses and passports as part of the leasing process, they also collect other paperwork such as pay stubs, tax returns, proofs of employment, proofs of residency, etc.
Leasing offices deal with new applicants daily, and with this comes documents that contain sensitive information about these applicants. Leaving the documents unprotected (in an unlocked drawer) or forgetting to shred these documents can leave the applicants at risk for identity theft, which can be used to commit rental fraud.
3. Throwing away documents containing personal information
Personally, leasing consultants also receive mails such as utility bills, advertisements, checks, tax paperwork, pill bottles that contain personal information, etc. A good practice is to shred these documents or masking the addresses and personal information with an ink roller before discarding them. This prevents fraudsters from “dumpster diving,” or looking through the trash for discarded personal data.
4. Downloading files from unknown sources/authors.
Your work computer contains login credentials that give access to thousands of individual records, which includes your residents’ names, age, sex, addresses, etc.
Leasing agents download documents daily, from prospects and future residents when they are submitting paperwork. It’s not difficult to accidentally download questionable files that are disguised as leasing documents. These downloads could expose your computer to viruses that give fraudsters access to your residents’ information.
5. Writing down login credentials and keeping them in an easy to access location
Easy to do – easy to understand. We’re all guilty of writing down our login credentials at some point. Especially when we have 578 systems to log into. If left in an accessible location, anyone can use your login credentials to access your database of residents’ personal information.
A better practice is to use a password management tool. A search for “password manager” yields plenty of options for you to choose from. Using password managers will ensure that your passwords to critical systems are securely protected, and of course, saving you from having to remember the 578 usernames and passwords for all your systems.