What’s the Difference Between a Real and Fake Pay Stub?

While employers aren’t federally mandated to give pay stubs to their employees, most states do enact laws that require them to provide a written record of wages during a pay period. 

Unfortunately, numerous instances of fraud can lead to severe problems with the IRS. You should always know the difference between a real and fake pay stub.

Why People Use Fake Pay Stubs

Why People Use Fake Pay Stubs

Pay stubs are formal documentation of wages and taxes during a pay period that the employer gives to the employee at the end of the said pay period.

The first thing you might be asking is: “why would people use fake pay stubs in the first place?”

There are multiple reasons someone might fabricate a pay stub, so it’s useful to know the difference between a fake and a real one. 

To Secure a Loan

Sometimes, a person may not be in the best financial situation or don’t have a stable job to procure a bank loan. In order to fool the bank, they will create fake pay stubs so they will be in a better position to get approved for a loan.

Tax Fraud

Some employers might try to give out fake check stubs with false information in order to avoid paying their part of the taxes.

Illegal Business Operations

An illegitimate business might try to fool you into thinking they’re operating legally by giving you fake pay stubs. Corporate chains and reputable names are usually safe, but small-time businesses can sometimes be shady. 

Fake pay stubs are a real problem and can get innocent people in trouble with the IRS. Knowing how to spot the difference can be lifesaving.

Spotting the Difference Between Real and Fake Pay Stubs

Spotting the Difference Between Real and Fake Pay Stubs

Now that we’ve established what a check stub is and why someone would fabricate it, let’s dive into an in-depth guide on how to tell a real one from a fake one. 

Here, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can determine the legitimacy of your next pay stub.

The Information is Accurate 

The first and foremost step in confirming the legitimacy of your pay stub is to make sure all the information is correct, including any abbreviations.

This includes basic information such as your name, address, social security number, company name, date of birth, and any other miscellaneous data that the document may contain. 

Any misspellings or wrong information could potentially mean that it is a fake paystub as errors are frequent among fraudsters.

The Numbers Should Align With Your Paychecks

If you’re someone who turns in their checks digitally and keeps all their paychecks in a filing cabinet or has a bank statement they can refer to, you can compare these numbers to your pay stub.

If the net pay described by your check stub doesn’t align with how much you’ve made over the course of the pay period, then you may be looking at an instance of fraudulent documentation.

Even if you don’t have immediate access to this information, you know how many hours you’ve worked, and you can give yourself a rough estimate. Don’t take the number you come up with to heart, but if the pay stub doesn’t seem to match up with the hours you worked, then it might be worth looking into. 

Fake Pay Stubs Use “Os” and “0s” Interchangeably. 

It’s a lazy mistake many frauds make but can prove deadly to anyone who can spot it. Please pay close attention to any numerical zeros and make sure that they aren’t actually the letter O. Seeing as how the two characters reside next to each other on the keyboard and look pretty similar, it’s no surprise that it’s a common mistake among frauds and one that a professional accountant or a computer algorithm wouldn’t make.

It’s careless blunders such as this that make spotting a fake pay stub easy.

Real Pay Stubs Avoid Round-ups

There shouldn’t be any estimations on your pay stub; it should be pretty exact in what you’ve made. If you see excessive zeros and numbers that seem to be too “nice,” this might be the result of an employer cutting corners or making up numbers. 

Always be sure that the account is reliable and accurate.

Real Pay Stubs Are Professional and Neat

The pay stub should be organized, legible, and consistent. It doesn’t matter if it’s a world-renowned corporation or a local small-time business.

If it’s just a bunch of scribbles on a piece of paper, it means that the proper care wasn’t taken into generating your pay stub and could lead to major problems down the road. 

It is essential documentation of taxes and should always be taken seriously. So, read more about the topic and read this entire article before making assumptions on whether or not the documents are real or fake. 

How to Avoid Fake Check Stubs

How to Avoid Fake Check Stubs

Fortunately, there are preventive measures you can take to ensure you won’t fall victim to fraudulent pay stubs. 

Use Official Documents to Verify Income

You can request these official documents from the associated source:

  • W-2 form
  • 1099 tax form
  • Bank statements

Unlike pay stubs, these are official documents and aren’t as easily fabricated. By using official documents to apply for loans and verify income, you minimize your chances of being scammed and are less likely to find yourself in trouble with the IRS.

Confirm Your Place of Work

Make sure you aren’t working for an illegal business. Not all illegitimate businesses have unlawful products or services; some operate under the radar for tax reasons. 

You can confirm your place of work by requesting formal documents, running a background check on your employer, and making sure the numbers on your paycheck and pay stubs are accurate.

The Bottom Line

Knowing the difference between fake pay stubs and real pay stubs is important because fraud is a real issue that anyone can fall victim to. It’s easy to fake a pay stub and sometimes even convenient, so it’s a good idea always to be vigilant.

Fortunately, with the methods mentioned in this article, you’ll never have to worry about being scammed with fake pay stubs again.

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