How to Spot Fake Paystubs – 2024 Guide


One of the most talked-about topics today is security and the overall safety of our data. Of course, this is mostly because of too many scams and frauds online, and the best way to avoid becoming a victim of such scams is by following a simple rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it’s most likely not real. On the other hand, one of the things that cause most confusion these days non-online wise is about paystubs, regarding why they are so important, whether employers need to provide them to their employees, and if so, how to spot a fake one?

The answer to the first question is pretty simple, as every important piece of info an employee must have and know is written there. Besides that, there are laws that clearly state that every employer needs to provide them to their employees, either physically or electronically. The biggest problem here is about fake ones, but once you learn what to check and look for, spotting a fake one will not be that difficult.


Round numbers almost never happen

Okay, this is more about probability than anything else, as even though having a salary of precisely 5.000 USD, for example, is possible, it’s not that likely that the sum will be a round number. Namely, according to several studies, the chances of that happening are one in a billion due to various taxes. It means that if the paystub is showing the round number and especially after the taxes, the chances are high that it is a fake one. Basically, if it seems too pristine, it is a cause to ask a few questions, as the chances of that happening are slim to none, and in order to simply avoid any inconveniences, it’s best to ask around about and check if the paystub is fake or not.

Lack of information

Here, it’s more about not having enough info, like missing the applicant’s name, company, or address, as every paystub simply needs to have this information. Besides that, it’s needless that it is a red flag if it lacks some basic personal info, but this rarely happens as it is too obvious and almost impossible not to notice. Always check the gross pay, deductions, taxes, and more, as all this is something that every paystub should have. For those with a bit more experience with paystubs, take a closer look at it, and if there are any inconsistencies, well, in most cases, it is a sign that it is a fake one.


Check all the sums

We have already mentioned the problem of round numbers, but one of the best ways to spot a fake one is by calculating all amounts and checking if everything matches. Yes, we agree that this is also probably the most time-consuming and difficult task, but it’s the one with the best results. Namely, since most people don’t calculate and check all the sums, the chances are high that fake ones will not match. If you find this way too confusing or simply don’t have enough time to calculate everything, consult the experts, as most accountants can help you with this problem. Besides that, there are various programs that can help you calculate everything automatically without spending too much time checking every digit.

Check the digits

One of the most certain signs that the paystub is fake, but one of the most difficult to notice, is the usage of the letter O instead of the digit 0. Some people can think that it is an unintentional mistake, but it is almost impossible that a person who professionally files paystubs will make that mistake. Because of that, checking the document for this sign can help you spot the fake one, but it can be pretty time-consuming. Luckily, there are various programs we can use to automatically spot this letter and number, which can make everything much easier, and what is even more important, it will require less time.


They look unprofessional

Each paystub needs to look professional, and if any tiny detail does not look that way, it is an alarm signal that it is probably fake. Professionals who create them use software that lines up all the digits, lines, and characters, and every deviation is a sign that something is wrong. Besides that, the font used for paystubs is never too fancy, and every person should be able to read it without any problem, so it is always a good idea to check for misspelled words.

What if it is impossible to notice the fake paystub?

Sometimes it will be impossible to notice the fake paystub because of many information and digits to check, but luckily there is always a solution to find it by using other income verification methods.

One of the simplest ways is to call the employer listed and ask them to verify the amount of money they make, but keep in mind that not all of them will be honest about that. In order to do that properly, you will need to find their contact information and avoid calling a home number they provide since someone can answer instead of them and give you the wrong information.

Another way is to ask for W-2 or 4506 form as they can verify incomes, and it is pretty challenging to falsify them, so the information you get will be accurate. These forms will allow you to see federal tax record transcript, their earnings, taxes, and much more.

In the end, you always have an option to ask for bank statements and check if the income listed matches the one from the bank report.


To summarize

As we can see, paystubs are very important, and they can provide much crucial information for employers and employees, but sometimes we need to deal with fake ones, and spotting them can be pretty challenging. Luckily there are some tips on how to do it in an easier way, and we hope that these we mentioned above can be useful for you and help you spot fake paystubs without too much effort.