Identity theft has been the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for the past 12 years in a row. It’s not just consumers that are affected though, and landlords are in fact considered to be at high risk of falling victim to identity theft. The main culprits are rogue tenants, but if you’re a landlord, how well protected are you?
Interception of Mail
One of the most common ways tenants steal the identity of their landlords is by intercepting mail that gets posted to the rental address. Things like insurance renewals for a landlord can often get sent to a rental property, and it’s extremely easy for rogue tenants to open the mail and gain access to your personal details. This information can then be used to fraud official documents like passports and driving licenses, allowing them to sign up for a mortgage or secure a loan.
Prevent this happening to you: ensure all of your mail is redirected to your current residential address. It’s a simple step that can offer a huge amount of protection against identity theft if you’re a landlord.
Failure To Vet Tenants
Another common shortfall that exposes landlords to the risk of identity theft is the failure to properly vet potential tenants. Any paperwork they complete should be rigorously checked, especially if there’s anything you’re not familiar with, like international identification documents.
Prevent this happening to you: it’s a good idea to meet your prospective tenants in person. You could be present at viewings or even take that responsibility off your estate agent and do it yourself. That way, you can get a feel for the type of people viewing your home and make a judgement on whether you choose to accept them as tenants or not. Choosing a good letting agent, like House Network, is also crucial, as they’ll be able to help you vet tenants too.
Offering Short Term Rentals
Landlords who offer short term rentals are making themselves more vulnerable to identity theft. Fraudulent tenants who move around from property to property whilst frequently committing identity fraud are much harder to track down if they never stay in one place for very long.
Prevent this happening to you: Avoiding six month term contracts and sticking to a minimum of 12 months could make your tenants easier to track down if they exercise fraudulent behaviour. Taking a car registration number and speaking to the guarantor in person will also work in your favour if you ever fall victim to identity theft as a landlord.
Becoming a landlord is an extremely attractive investment opportunity, but it’s important to realise that it doesn’t come without risk. Taking on board some of these tips should help to reduce the chances of you ever falling victim to identity theft as a result of rogue tenants, so be vigilant, stay on top of your mail and make sure you know who your tenants are before you take them on. It could save you from running into a lot of financial trouble.
Are you landlord and have you ever been in this situation?