When my uncle rented out a few units in Providence, RI, he did it the old fashioned way. He put an ad in the local newspaper, showed the units himself, and then picked up the phone to call references. In good Rhode Island tradition, most of the time it took just a few minutes on the phone to find out that he was distantly related or knew someone related to his potential renter. It was a safe and manageable set up that worked for thirty years.
The new era of real estate, however, is far less local, familiar, or secure. Renters are often not relocating locally and most importantly, they expect the entire renting cycle to unfold conveniently online. Add to the mix an increase in out-of-state ownership that makes hands-on management difficult, and you create a new set of challenges.
One new area that has become especially troublesome is application fraud.
Application & Renter Fraud Today
Application fraud has always existed in some form, but the new generation of defrauders is turning technology against apartment owners and using new trends to their advantage.
The top method of committing fraud? Online rental applications.
In a recent survey done by TransUnion of 163 property managers, an alarming 70 percent reported concerns about online application fraud.
The numbers back up this concern. In 2016, the Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research found that fraud affected 15.4 million Americans, up 16 percent from the previous year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) additionally discovered as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
These numbers reflect our rapidly changing online world where everything from buying groceries to renting an apartment can be done through an online transaction.
For the apartment owner, this presents a tough challenge. Renters have become accustomed to the convenience of searching and renting online. If we can’t go back in time, what is the best way forward? How do we get the security that past generations of property owners enjoyed while still enjoying the benefits of online renting?
For the sake of example, let’s use a prospective renter named Jack Smith. Jack just submitted an online application. The first instinct is to run his credit, right? Herein lies the problem. Jack Smith’s credit can be stellar. A perfect renter on paper.
Unfortunately, Jack had his identity stolen last week and the person applying is, in fact, Jane Adams. You just accepted Jane, who has a 400-credit score and a penchant for not paying rent. Now you’re saddled with lost rent and the headache of eviction because you ran a credit check on who a person claimed to be, rather than who they proved themselves to be.
There is only one real way around this problem and that is ID verification.
Play through this example again, but this time when Jack Smith submits his online application, you inform him that you require a government-issued ID prior to processing their application.
Jane is now at an impasse. If she submits her ID for verification and it shows up as Jack Smith, the game is up and she has a felony to her name. If she submits her own ID and you run your credit check, she gets denied.
Just as two-way authentication keeps your smartphone access safer, two-way verification of a rental prospect helps shield a community from fraudulent activity.
To learn more about ID verification software, visit CheckpointID.com.
Checkpoint’s proprietary ID verification software allows apartment owners and managers to scan and verify the authenticity of domestic IDs and international passports, run background checks against an ID, and more. Verifying prospects’ identities not only helps management reduce bad debt from fraudulent move-in but also protects the staff and residents at the community.