Blacklists: myth or reality

Posted by Josh Conibear in Personal Finance on 11 December 2013 - Josh worked as a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile until 2014

It has been a couple of years since we set out the facts about blacklists and asked you to judge for yourself, but once again the papers are full of reports about blacklists, spurred on by a study by consumer supremos Which?

With the ever growing scepticism of trusting both large corporations like banks, and governments too, together with reports that Big Brother really is watching you – following the revelations of Edward Snowden and others, there have been mounting concerns of whether 'the powers at be' have influence over your personal data.

Typically a blacklist is a database of disapproved people or addresses that are under suspicion or excluded from something. Down the pub, I hear that there are three main blacklists that can highly impair your ability to live life to the full, that of credit blacklists, address blacklists and occupational blacklists. So are these myth or reality? Let’s find out.

Credit Blacklists

If you have been turned down for credit, do not panic. Chances are that it’s the lender, not you. You’ve just chosen to apply to a tightwad.

Use our credit matching service to increase your chances exponentially. Check your credit report for surprises, speak to us if you have any doubts, but don’t assume that you’re on a credit blacklist.

Yes, lenders consult credit reference agencies, check compliance with their own lending policies (if you’re under 23, you can’t get credit from some and it is simply your age causing the grief, not a blacklist), and other information too, like the Sanctions List (check out the above link if you want to know more on this). If the Sanctions List isn’t a blacklist, then what is? But things like credit assessment processes just aren’t that simple. For the great majority of us, you are judged on your past performance when you apply for credit and not much more.

Address Blacklists

It's common to hear people suggest that an address can be blacklisted and you can be affected by someone else's bad debts or by fraud having been suspected to have been committed at your address.

In the latter respect, that was certainly something that happened historically, but we are assured it doesn’t happen now.

As to whether someone at your address affecting your ability to get credit, the stock answer is no they can’t. But, sorry to differ, but it is pantomime season and oh yes they can, if you are financially associated to that person by way of a joint account or even by way of a joint rental agreement for a TV.

How to find out? Just check your credit report and we’ll tell you if anyone is financially connected to you according to credit reference agency databases. The financial association continues until you remove it, so if it is no longer appropriate, we’ll tell you how to go about removing it.

Occupational Blacklists

Governments and corporations should not be actively sharing and compiling a blacklist of employees.

But in 2009 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) carried out a raid on The Consulting Association (TCA) and found that the organisation was holding information on over 3,200 construction workers with details going back to the 1980s.

With the help of the police and even a trade union in one case, TCA’s business was selling the information to construction firms who wanted to weed out any bad eggs ¬– troublemakers, trade union rabble rousers, people who didn’t want their colleagues to get maimed in a horrifying industrial accident ¬– from their pool of employees.

Lives went awry and careers were ruined as qualified tradespeople found it difficult to get work. If that wasn't awful enough, the information used was sometimes inaccurate.

The consequences of blacklisting in this way would undoubtedly have been catastrophic for some workers in the trade, but it is important to remember that this was a one-off discovery.

Eight of the firms involved have set up a fund to compensate the workers, offering between £1,000 and £100,000.

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