To Catch a Liar | National Apartment Association

To Catch a Liar

My parents had it easy—a fact I like to remind them of as often as possible.

You see, my brother and I were not your typical adolescents. We didn’t drink, we didn’t skip class, we didn’t go around town wreaking havoc upon unsuspecting elderly neighbors. In fact, it’s safe to say we were the world’s best—and, according our more popular peers, boring—teenagers. Thus, having a fake ID never even crossed our minds.

And even if we did want one, how were we to get it? I never understood how one went about producing such contraband. Did you have to go to a nearby Kinko’s to scan your friend’s older sister’s ID? Or did you drive half an hour to a seedy section of Baltimore to meet a drug lord in an abandoned warehouse, forking over all of your waitressing tips for an ID of a 50-year-old woman who looked nothing like you? How did you have time to do any of this in between finals and basketball practice?

I just didn’t get it.

Unfortunately, other people do. And while securing a fake ID so you can drink a Bud Light isn’t the end of the world, some people use forged documents for far worse purposes.

Rental application forgery, for example, is an all-too-common problem in the multifamily housing industry. At a recent Apartment Managers Crime Prevention meeting, property managers and members of the Atlanta Police Department Major Frauds department compiled a list of tips and techniques to prevent rental application fraud.


1. Make sure the person on the ID is the person seated in the leasing office and not simply someone who has similar physical characteristics, such as a sister.

2. Does the address on their photo ID match the address they claim to be living at presently? If not, why not?

3. Always look at their original photo ID. Never take a photocopy or a fax of their ID because it can be easily doctored and could be more difficult to detect a fake. It is easier to discover a fake ID if the actual ID is what is being examined. If in doubt, check it against your own ID—perhaps in private while in another room.

4. Who is waiting outside in the car for the applicant? Why don’t they want to come into the office with them?

5. If multiple people are applying for one apartment, but they never come in to the leasing office as a group, invite all of them to visit the office at once beforehand for a “meet the property manager” meeting. If this can’t be arranged or they are unwilling, be suspicious.

These are all red flags—and all things I’m going to tell my mom the next time my apartment bathroom isn’t “clean enough” for her liking. Let’s have a little perspective, folks.

For more tips to minimize rental application fraud, check out “How to Spot a Fake” in the October issue of units, which mails Oct. 8.