As I mentioned last month, I have been getting tons of falsified applications. I spend 1-2 hours per application working through the details and doing research. While I use rental licenses and tax records to confirm that I am speaking to the correct person (not a family member of the applicant) stated as the landlord, I also use the credit report from my screening company. The credit companies do a very nice job of tracking every address you have ever lived at or put on a credit application for at least the last 15 years. I cross-reference the addresses and dates on the credit report to what the tenant put on their application.
Just last week I had an applicant say that they were living with family for the last 4 years and then in Indiana before that (with no phone number for the landlord). Now how are you going to validate this? I looked at their credit report and saw several other addresses in the last 4 years besides the family member. I tracked down the owner of the most recent one and just called them. I said “this may be a wild goose chase, but do you know this tenant?”. I found out the tenant signed a lease in January 2015 and was asked to leave in October 2015. They left owing money and left the house a wreck. But yet, they claimed they had been living with family for the last 4 years. When confronted, they denied it, despite slipping up and asking if I spoke to Judy (the owner).
When you are screening tenants, use every tool available to you to validate the information on the application. If something smells fishy (like the current landlord giving a glowing report), keep digging!