A Case of Mistaken Identity

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Prospective renters may now be the victims of identity theft and they don’t even know it—until they apply for an apartment.

The spate of recent cyber attacks against high-profile retailers Target, Michaels, Sally Beauty and Neiman Marcus netted identity thieves the personal information for over one-third the population of the United States. And that figure doesn’t even include the accounts compromised by the equally nefarious Heartbleed software bug.

As a result, a significant number of prospective renters may now be the victims of identity theft and they don’t even know it—until they apply for an apartment. Many qualified applicants will be turned away because of unpaid bills and collections that belong to an identity thief. When this happens the first person applicants will turn to for relief is the leasing agent. However, this situation casts the leasing agent in a role they may not be suited for.

“Leasing agents’ primary role is to fill units, not clean up a victim’s credit,” said On-Site Director of Analytics Todd Bruun. “They are there to show apartments and close leases. Ultimately, it’s up to the screening agency to investigate when an applicant disputes something on the rental report.”

Unfortunately, the majority of resident screening providers are faceless and unhelpful when it comes to resolving consumer disputes.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows screening providers up to 30 days to investigate a consumer dispute and most of them make full use of that time. Adding insult to injury, many screening providers further lengthen their response times by forcing applicants to submit their disputes via snail mail. In the mean time perfectly qualified applicants are left homeless while apartments sit vacant.

 

“Companies that screen with On-Site and take advantage of the Renter Relations service qualify 18% more applicants for move-in that would have otherwise been turned away because of erroneous credit reports.”

 

Because the majority of screening providers fall short when it comes to investigating consumer disputes, On-Site created Renter Relations. Renter Relations helps renters get the housing they need and helps housing providers fill vacancies by reporting the most up-to-date information possible.

Renter Relations works directly with applicants to resolve consumer disputes online and over the phone, as opposed to snail mail, so renters can get the housing they need today—not 30 days from now. In fact, companies that screen with On-Site and take advantage of the Renter Relations service qualify 18% more applicants for move-in that would have otherwise been turned away because of erroneous credit reports.

As for the actual dispute resolution process—trying to take back a stolen identity is already painful enough, which is why Renter Relations makes dispute resolution as painless as possible. Applicants can go online and download copies of the rental report and adverse action notice. From there they can upload documents for the Renter Relations team to review, proving that a bill was paid or that a tradeline on the credit report doesn’t belong to them.

While Renter Relations can’t permanently change the credit file as furnished by the credit bureaus, they can make adjustments to the rental report right away without having to wait on the credit bureaus to make a determination. Renter Relations also assists applicants in getting their files corrected with the credit bureaus once and for all.

It’s also worth mentioning that Renter Relations is a free service available to everyone that screens with On-Site. Housing providers and their applicants don’t pay a dime, because in a case of stolen identity, the last thing a victim wants to do is shell out money to resolve the issue.

 

For more on resident screening and Renter Relations: