This article was posted on Tuesday, Sep 01, 2020

By simply searching the Internet, one can find a variety of websites selling fake pay stub templates.  All the purchaser has to do is download the template and simply “fill in the blanks” entering in any information they desire. Some sites even offer a choice of different template styles and colors along with options to generate W2s as well.  Other sites have a 24-hour support team to walk one through the process and answer any questions.  

A fake pay stub can be generated in only a few minutes and they can look very authentic. Say, for instance, that your rental is listed for $1,500 per month and you require a 3-1 income to rent ratio.  The applicant can simply generate a pay stub showing their actual employer with a listed income of $4,500 per month or more – regardless of what they make.

It’s All Legal!

It’s not illegal to create fake pay stubs. It is, however, illegal to provide them to anyone as proof of income. As soon as one is provided to obtain housing, apply for a loan, to evade taxes or to avoid paying child support, then that is fraud, which IS against the law.  

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How to Spot Fake Pay Stubs

These sites actually inform the person creating one several ways that others can spot a fake pay stub, offering even more suggestions to overcome being detected.  Below are some examples:

  • Spelling errors
  • Forgetting to replace a “generic” entry such as date of birth or occupation
  • Digits and decimal points not lined up properly
  • No clear difference between the letter o and the number 0
  • Too many numbers rounded up to zero that look unrealistic
  • Illegible and hard to understand
  • Miscalculations of federal and other withholdings
  • Poor printing quality or formatting

Use Proper and Thorough Screening

During your screening process, be certain to verify income in ways other than the pay stub.  Let the applicant know that you will be checking employment references – if they object, there’s your first red flag.

  • Always check employment references by speaking directly with their employer and/or the personnel department of the company.  
  • Verify dates of employment and actual income.


  • If the employer is unable to verify income via telephone, ask the applicant to sign an Authorization and Verification of Employment form which can be found in AOA’s Screening Package – form 100S.  An applicant who has submitted a fake or falsified pay stub will most likely not be willing to do this.  Big red flag!


  • Credit reports will sometimes show a place of employment, so be sure to look for that on all of your ordered reports.

Fake Pay Stub Consequences

Using fake pay stubs to defraud can lead to serious legal issues.  There are fines that could total more than $1 million and they could even face jail time. If you suspect an applicant has submitted a fraudulent pay stub, contact an attorney or the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, 1-877-ID-THEFT, or online at

Patricia Harris is the Senior Editor of the Apartment Owners Association News and Buyers Guide.