Identity Related Rental Fraud

Identity Related Rental Fraud

Rental fraud occurs on two levels: that of the renter and that of the person offering a rental property.

Identity-related rental fraud involving renters occurs when Individuals who have bad credit histories or criminal records use the personal identity information of someone with a clean financial or criminal history to rent property.

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In other cases, identity criminals “borrow” the identities of real property managers and use this information fraudulently to rent out houses or apartments they do not actually own or manage. They use fake stationery, contracts, business cards, fake warranty deeds for properties to convince potential renters that they have the authority to handle a property listing.

Sometimes, a fake property manager will pretend to rent a home that is for sale, taking listings from legitimate real estate agencies and rewriting an advertisement for posting online with a deeply discounted price. When potential renters respond to the ads, the fraudulent manager asks for a cash deposit or personal information for the rental application. Such applications contain the information an identity criminal can use to commit identity theft.

Identity-related rental fraud is especially prevalent on the Internet’s free property listing sites where anyone can advertise a property without providing any real identifying information or a credit card. All transactions for online rentals are done through email. The fraudulent landlord asks for a potential renter’s name, address, telephone number. A request for the first month’s rent and a security deposit comes next, with a promise to deliver lease documents and receipts for the payments.

In the above scenario, the potential renter has provided all the data an identity criminal needs to steal his/her identity: full name, address, email address, telephone number, credit card/checking account number, and Social Security number. Even if the potential renter doesn’t send any cash payment, the fraudster has enough information to steal the identity and use it for personal gain.