Re: From The Trenches… - Posted by Jim Locker
Posted by Jim Locker on January 13, 2001 at 10:24:51:
Some months back, our screening service receives a phone call. The lady is very well spoken, with excellent manners. She says that we screened her for one of our clients, and we had pulled the wrong information. It seems that we had reported her having several evictions, and (if I remember correctly) a couple arrests for DV.
It wasn’t her, she said. We got the wrong person.
Now, since I own a screening service, I am very concerned about such allegations and I immediately began to investigate. I pulled the report we sent the client, and I then searched our databases. Yep, sure looks like her.
But, says I, we don’t have social sec. numbers on any of this data. The name is not a common one, which increases the liklihood we have the right one, but it is not conclusive.
The credit file was empty. Blank. Nada. And this on a woman who is about 40 years old and did not grow up in Appalachia. This (in case you didn’t know) is a major red flag. It occasionally happens, but it is very rare.
The woman came to the office. Very clean, very neat, very well spoken. I looked at and copied her drivers license. She insisted we had the wrong person, and this time threatened to sue us. As we talked, more and more information came out; where her family lived, where her mother works, and so forth. I took notes.
I contacted the landlords that showed in our records. They described the same woman I had been talking to. I asked if they had her Social Sec. number. None of them had collected it (three of them) (NB: ALWAYS GET THE SSAN BEFORE RENTING TO THEM!!!).
I explained our problem to each LL. Each of them gave a very negative reference, and each of them provided us with some background info about their tenant. One of them says; “you’ve got the right one, she’s the only one around with that name. Her mother is the manager at ----”.
BINGO! Named the same person as mother, and the same place as place of mother’s employment.
The rest of the story. We put it together, and by the time we were done, we were positive we had the right person. We were willing if necessary to take our information into court.
She called back, asking what we were going to do. I told her we had her pinned down and it was her. I told her that we were going to report everything we had - EVERYTHING - to any client of ours who screened her. I told her that her attempt to defraud US was now listed in our records and would be reported to any client who asked.
It seems she had had her credit file scrubbed. Illegal, but possible. She thought she was home free.
But we keep our own records. And we don’t purge them.
Since that time, we have been contacted twice by clients of ours. Both times they asked us what we had on this person. “I showed her an apartment, and she was interested. She asked who we would use to screen her, and we told them we used you. Then she lost interest.”
Never, never, never trust your gut. This woman had me scared for a bit. She looked real good.