Somebody stole my identity to live in an apartment for 4 months?
December 7, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

So my name's been evicted from an apartment I've never lived in. And yet nothing appears on my credit report. What do I do?

My lease is up on my current apartment in Arizona so I've been looking for a new place in a better location. I find one and do the background check dance.

The owner tells me the tenant background check shows I've been evicted from a place in a part of town I've never been and that this place want 840 dollars.

I immediately get my free annual credit report. There's nothing odd there. The bogus rental didn't inquire into me but my current apartment did when I first moved in.

So what do I do now? Go knock on the door at the mystery place? Report it with the FTC? File a police report? Somehow get a tenant background check on myself? Could this person be using my identity for stuff that's not on the credit report? I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by this unexpected turn of events.
posted by beardlace to Law & Government (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You probably need to take it up with whatever the tentant screening service is. Ask the landlord if he can tell you what service he uses.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2010

Ask the owner for a copy of the report and then contact the originator of the report to get this corrected. It might be a case of mistaken identity, some kind of typo, or who knows what, but you'll be in a much better position to judge if you have the report in front of you.

Don't panic; you can deal with this.
posted by ssg at 11:25 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could the owner be making crap up because he doesn't want to rent to you? Try to verify the information, either through the screening service or the other address.
posted by aimedwander at 11:25 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agreed with all the statements above; "The owner tells me" = heresay. If you've seen the report, that's something different, and if the landlord is open to renting to you, they're probably open to showing it to you.
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 12:00 PM on December 7, 2010

Response by poster: ssg, the owner is an old man that doesn't have a photocopier and doesn't do Bill Pay since he doesn't trust the internet. I asked for a copy and he was unwilling. I'll try to get the name of the service he uses. Thank you for being supportive.

aimedwander, he showed me the paperwork with the address, my name, and the last four of my social. It came from a website with an entirely forgettable name.
posted by beardlace at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2010

ssg & aimedwander voiced my two answers!

This happens A LOT on the eviction portion of the tenant background check. The landlord guy should know this if he uses the service with any regularity. It's kinda bullshit if he doesn't overlook this false eviction citation, IMHO.

If you really want this apartment, will the landlord let you prove this isn't you? One quick way he can tell this is a mistake, btw, is that your credit check usually lists all past addresses - if the eviction address isn't cited your credit check, that's his first clue.

Evictions are done through the court. You can take a copy of the incorrect report to the courthouse and ask to see the originals on the eviction case. You don't need the report to follow-up with the court, but it is helpful. Then you copy any documentation you get from the court and send that along with a letter of dispute to the reporting agency. Keep the originals for your records to use in any other application situations. This WILL come up again if you don't sort it out.

If this guy isn't reasonable, you don't want him for a landlord.

Most states require that landlords provide copies of all background checks performed upon request. I doubt Arizona is any different, so make this guy give you a copy.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Right. He looked your name up on some shady peoplesearch site that just buckets up all data without much validation. I don't think there's anything you can do, but the guy sounds like kind of a nightmare anyway. I'd really press him to give up the name of the service.
posted by rhizome at 12:40 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's in this landlord's best interest to put you in contact with the screening agency. Otherwise, he may run into fair housing problems (assuming this is in the U.S.).
posted by paulg at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Never mind the fair housing stuff, he's got to give you the information on the reporting agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (assuming you're really in Arizona.)
posted by SMPA at 5:09 PM on December 7, 2010

I don't know if the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies here. It's my understanding that a background check for an apartment is different than a credit check for a loan. The OP said the outstanding debt is not listed on his credit report, so that leads me to believe my understanding is correct.

As others have suggested, try and get at least the name of the service he used to obtain your leasing history, if not a copy of the report itself. It very well could be a mistake on the service's part. If you are unable to get anywhere with them, or even get the name of the service from the landlord, contact the agency that regulates Landlord/Tenant interactions in your area. This should be a good starting point for Arizona, since you didn't list exactly where you are. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
posted by youngergirl44 at 6:05 PM on December 7, 2010

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