Landlords are uniquely vulnerable to the risks of identity theft.
New data from credit referencing agency Experian suggests that London’s East Ham is the country’s identity fraud hotspot, but risks remain for landlords and tenants across the UK.
A single case of identity fraud can be financially devastating. But you can help to stop yourself falling victim by taking some simple action.
As a landlord there is a range of important steps that you can take in order to protect yourself from identity theft.
• Post. It is important that you have all of your post redirected to your residential address, rather than having it sent to your rental property. This will help to ensure that personal documents end up with you and only you.
• Bills. Once your tenants have moved in, make sure that the names on all of the relevant bills are changed. This will help to ensure that debts are not run up in your name.
• Personal items. If you have personal documents in your rental property, make sure that they are removed or destroyed before tenants move in.
• Credit references. Check your credit report frequently with the major credit reference agencies. Make sure that any errors are corrected, and pay particular attention to potentially fraudulent credit applications made in your name.
• Tenant information. It is also important that you protect yourself against fraudulent tenant applications. Make sure that you request and follow up references from all potential tenants, and conduct a credit reference check. If you use a letting agent they may be able to perform these tasks for you.
Protecting your tenants
You should also consider taking action to protect your tenants from identity theft. There are several key ways in which you can help to keep your tenants safe.
• Education. Good information is your tenants’ best weapon in the fight against identity fraud. If you provide an information pack with key information about the property, consider including details about how best they can protect themselves. This is particularly important in properties with public waste disposal space, in which tenants should be reminded not to leave sensitive documents.
• Post. Remind your tenants to redirect their own post after they leave. During the tenancy, make sure that you install a secure letterbox.