Technology is a double-edged sword: it allows lightning-fast communications and unparalleled efficiency. But when it comes to screening tenants, technology also creates special problems that landlords cannot ignore:
Online Rental Applications Promote Tenant Fraud
The use of online rental applications is a significant factor in the recent increase in tenant fraud. Rental applicants routinely fake qualifications or create fictional identities. Landlords seldom discover the fraud until long after the tenant moves in and typically only after the tenant stops paying rent.
A rental applicant must be prequalified and provide proof of identity with a photo ID in person before being allowed access to a rental application form.
Social Media is Not for Screening Tenants
Social media platforms are proving an unreliable resource for tenant screening. It is difficult to verify if information found on these pages is true and obtaining personal information about an applicant — family status, group associations, potential disabilities — can be discriminatory. Using social media searches to vet tenants is equivalent to asking prohibited questions on the rental application.
It also is problematic to advertise on social media platforms where not all prospective tenants will have access to the information.
Traditional tenant screening reports, including tenant credit checks, criminal background and eviction history are not subject to manipulation and relate directly to tenant qualifications.
Tenant Information at Risk
Storing sensitive tenant data is risky business and must be handled with great care. Portable devices make it easier to expose tenants to identify theft and other forms of fraud.
Taking precautions to protect personal and financial info goes beyond choosing a good password:
Avoid storing information on portable devices carried into public places;
Enable the lock and tracking functions on devices in the event of theft;
Change passwords frequently or use recognition features;
Maintain anti-virus protections;
Research apps before loading on work devices; and
Avoid using free Wi-Fi connections in public — the “network” could be a hacker sitting at another table.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.