Indicators Paystubs May Be FakeIn our first article, we discussed that counterfeit pay stubs have become a real struggle for some property managers.  Others do not even realize they are blindly accepting that a pay stub is real.  We cannot be expected to analyze every number and letter on every pay stub; however, we can take steps to weed out the fakes. 

Indicators Stubs May Be Fake That We’ve Identified:

  1. Typos:  This is a dead giveaway.  Legitimate payroll services do not misspell basic payroll terms, employer and employee names, etc.
  2. Watermarks: Some of the fake pay stub sites will have a watermark on the stub such as ‘real’ or their website name.
  3. Logo & Format: Get to know the legitimate payroll companies’ logos and stub format for employers in your area.  Don’t rely on a logo with 100% certainty, though.  They can easily be copied and pasted.
  4. Calculations:  Legitimate payroll systems do additions and subtractions automatically, so there are rarely mistakes.  Mathematical mistakes are usually from a manual payroll entry which is a tell-tale sign.  The same is true for year-to-date amounts from one stub to the next. 
  5. Payroll Deduction lines all have zeros:  We all have deductions.  If they are all zeros, it might be a fake, or it could be an indicator they are self-employed (since taxes are not being taken out).
  6. Pay Dates Vary:  Most employers pay on exactly the same schedule each pay period – weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, for example.  If you see pay dates that are not consistent, say a 14 day pay period then the next one is 18 days, this is a red flag.
  7. Check Numbers:  Take a look to see if they:
    1. Are they missing – Almost all should have check numbers.
    2. Are one right after the other (1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, for example) – Unless they are a one-person company, this is highly unusual.
    3. The check numbers go down instead of up – Over time, check numbers usually go up. 
    4. The same check number is duplicated on more than one check.
  8. Pay Stub data does not match what they reported on the application.  Examples include:
    1. Applicant/employee name or social security number are different
    2. Employer info
      • Employer does not exist upon an online search
      • Employer name is misspelled or missing contact info
      • Employer name is different - spelled differently or an entirely different employer name.  (Note:  We can expect some employers where their parent company handles payroll.)
  9. It just doesn’t add up – Trust your instincts 

When in doubt, pull your compliance support department in as a partner for a second look.  Do a little research online.  If things are not adding up, you may want to request additional information.  No matter what, be consistent holding all applicants to the same criteria.

Stay tuned for our next articles where we will take an in depth look at some ways to prevent fake stubs and what to do if you discover you’ve already fallen victim.

Have you encountered fake pay stubs?  Can you share how you handled it?

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Read our entire series on "Fake Pay Stubs"

keep on complying with quality   -kg