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Your Complete Guide for Scam Prevention in Real Estate and Investments

Avoid Scams, wasted time, bad decisions, and stress with a SIMPLE Background/Credit Check.

Have you ever had suspicions about a tenant, contractor, buyer, friend, or anyone handling your money or time? If you have ever had suspicions, make sure to do a background check; it’s only $2 in some cases, and we have provided some links at the bottom to help you out. We also included cheaper and free alternatives.

I’m a landlord myself, and I want to help landlords avoid future stress. I know you hear all the stories of scams from friends; it’s real, folks—protect yourself. I’ve had some bad experiences in the past, and a simple $2 and 2 minutes would have saved a lot of time and trouble.

If you’re a landlord or working with someone for a major purchase or investment, please consider doing some research. I can also conduct one for you; just give me a call at 480-466-4917 or send me an email at jay@jaybrugroup.com

While many sellers, buyers, contractors, and handymen are trustworthy, some can be deceptive. Dishonest people don’t have it written on their foreheads; many scammers are just taking advantage of the system and smooth-talking.

Welcome to your guide in avoiding scams, the Sherlock Holmes of real estate and investments!🔍🏠

Step 1: Gather Information

Get key info about the person: their full name, birth date, and other important details. This includes their address, phone numbers, and any relevant info that gives a good overview. This basic info is like the starting point for a thorough background check, helping to dig deeper into the person’s background and history.

This idea works for everything in life, as it should. I hear too many stories of people getting tricked—by emails, texts, internet scams, or even fake family members trying to take money. I know someone it happened to.

In real estate, where there’s big money involved, it’s essential to investigate—whether it’s a tenant, contractor, buyer, seller, investor, wholesaler, or even a neighbor. This info is free online and open to the public. Start with the free online tools first like True People Search and Whitepages

Step 2: Conduct Online Search

Try your luck with Google. Enter the person’s name, phone number, and email to see what information pops up. If there’s very little information, that’s a red flag too. Keep in mind that some older individuals might not have a strong online presence, and others may prioritize privacy, especially after reading this post.

Explore other websites such as Nextdoor, Craigslist, and Google Reviews. Check business ratings on Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Yelp. For real estate-related checks, visit the Arizona Assessor’s website to confirm if the person indeed owns the home they claim.

Social Media is a helpful medium too, examine the individual’s employment history on LinkedIn. Review details about their roles and durations, assess endorsements to understand their professional strengths, and identify any common connections that might offer additional context. Extend the search to other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, and those highlighted by Google.

These steps can provide a more comprehensive picture and contribute to making informed choices in your dealings.

Step 3: Check Public Records

Look into local government websites or online databases to access public records. These records could encompass a range of information such as criminal records, court documents, or details about property ownership. Exploring these sources provides a comprehensive view that can reveal legal history, property holdings, or any other publicly available data related to the individual being investigated.

Here are some websites where you might find public records:

Step 4: Try Background Check Websites

Okay, time to get a bit serious. Consider investing in a proper background check service to ensure there are no skeletons hiding in the closet. It might sound intense, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Start with True People Search. It’s a free service providing information like addresses, full names, phone numbers, etc. However, click on the full credit report tab for a more comprehensive view. They offer various links, so navigate to the one for a $2 single search, but be cautious as they might push you to purchase a membership. The cost is lower if you buy more months. Examine the report for criminal charges (not all may be listed, so we’ll suggest another source), foreclosures, rent evictions, bankruptcies, traffic charges, or anything flagged by the system. This gives you a good overview, but remember, it’s just one part of the puzzle. Avoid hasty judgments; mishaps happen. However, if there are 5 prescription drug charges, 2 DUIs, and credit card problems, it’s advisable to move on.

Another excellent alternative for background checks is FreeBackgroundCheck.org. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution without compromising on reliability, this platform is worth considering. The website’s key features include free access to background checks, covering information such as criminal records and employment history. However, potential users should consider the accuracy of the data, user experience, and the platform’s commitment to data security. It’s essential to be aware of the limitations of free services, as they may not always provide the most accurate or up-to-date information. Additionally, users should verify the legal compliance of the website and be cautious about any potential hidden fees for more detailed information.

Step 5: Review Credit Reports

Credit checks. If you’re a landlord like me, you have to do something. If they can’t pay their bills how are they going to pay you? Look for a credit score of at least 620 in my mind, if they have an 800, they’re more than gold, but remember if they had an 800 credit score, they’d own a home.

Try this SmartMove to check for other people’s credit reports.

SmartMove gives landlords a quick, secure, and reliable way to check a tenant’s credit online. The landlord signs up for an account. For $25, the landlord will have access to a credit screening report, a deposit recommendation, a tenant risk score, and a national criminal background report. For an additional $10, the landlord can also see a full credit report and a national eviction search. Once the landlord has the account, he inputs the rental applicant’s name and e-mail address. SmartMove contacts the rental applicant on behalf of the landlord and requests permission to grant access to this information to the landlord.

In addition to checking credit reports, you can access someone else’s credit report by directly contacting one of the credit bureaus (TransUnionEquifax, and Experian). Each of these bureaus technically gives their ratings independently, but all three of the scores should be quite similar for the same person.

You will need a valid reason to pull a person’s credit report, and some personal information will also be required to prove that they have authorized the inquiry (this is why landlords almost always ask for Social Security Numbers with rent applications). But if you rent property to a person, you have a right to see their credit report and check if they have a strong history of paying their debts. This information will help you better determine if they are the type of tenant you would like. Looking at a potential tenant’s credit score can give you insight into whether or not the prospective renter will be able to pay both their rent and their bills.

Step 6: Reference Checks

If it’s relevant, reach out to the personal and professional references provided by the individual to confirm and authenticate their background. This involves contacting individuals who are familiar with the person in a personal or work-related capacity, seeking insights into their character, work ethic, and overall reliability. By connecting with these references, you can gain valuable firsthand information that contributes to a more thorough understanding of the individual’s background and helps in making well-informed decisions.

Step 7: Avail Professional Services

If it’s relevant, reach out to the personal and professional references provided by the individual to confirm and authenticate their background. This involves contacting individuals who are familiar with the person in a personal or work-related capacity, seeking insights into their character, work ethic, and overall reliability. By connecting with these references, you can gain valuable firsthand information that contributes to a more thorough understanding of the individual’s background and helps in making well-informed decisions.

Lastly, always trust your feelings. If something seems wrong, it probably is. Your gut feeling is like a helpful guide, steering you through the ins and outs of real estate and investments. But at the same time, something that happened years ago could be forgiven; people change. After doing all the things I recommended, you’ll find something. You may want to hear their side of the story, but you might get a big lie. This is when the gut check really comes into play.

For Tenants:

All of the information above is relevant so go to the links and start there.  I would recommend a credit score above 620 min.  Remember, tenants usually have lower credit scores, because if they had high credit scores, they’d own a house.  Look for how long they stay at a residence and if they constantly move, they’ll most likely won’t be long-term.  Call references, especially their old landlord.

For Contractors:

If the job is over $1000 its for a licensed contractor, handyman jobs are for under $1000.  In Arizona, it’s a mess!  Unlicensed handyman claim they’re contractors and home builders, which is false.

Anyone can pretend they are a licensed contractor but check here, https://azroc.my.site.com/AZRoc/s/contractor-search

View court Records here.

Click on my blog on hiring a contractor here.

Do a background Check here. 

Search for reviews on Google, Facebook pages, Nextdoor, and do a background check to see if they claim to be who they are.  Get multiple quotes and make them stick to their price.

So there you have it, dear readers – the art of background checks made fun and friendly. Remember, it’s not about being a detective; it’s about being a wise investor and real estate pro. Happy investigating! 🕵️‍♂️✨

If you need help, just reach out and I can assist, call, text or email me at 480-466-4917 or jay@jaybrugroup.com

Jay Bru

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