What are address links and why are they on my file

Posted by George Coburn in Credit Reports on 24 March 2018 - George is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

At first the sheer amount of historic information held by Credit Reference Agencies can seem daunting when seen for the first time. This is certainly true for address links, which show all current and historic addresses recorded for you, as well as additional addresses that lenders think may be linked to you. But you can rest easy, because they're nothing to fear.

Where do address links come from?

Whenever you apply for credit, you are required to provide the lender with your current address, as well as up to two previous addresses. This is how the lender requests your credit file from a Credit Reference Agency.

Credit Reference Agencies will have a record of previous addresses that the individual has previously used when applying for credit, or notified the owners of current credit accounts of a change of address. The lender will then advise the agencies of the change of address, and an address link is placed on their file. This ensures that lenders have an up-to-date contact address for their customers at all times.

What are they for?

From a lender’s perspective, address links help ensure that potential customers don’t intentionally omit a previous address where they have acquired negative information such as defaulted accounts or a CCJ. While this negative information affects the individual themselves, not the address, some people may still try to evade making payments by moving to a different address without telling creditors.

As potential customers are limited to providing 3 addresses for the credit check, the address links allow lenders to see whether there are any outstanding payments in their name at previous addresses.

Linked addresses from financial associations

If you have any financial associations on your credit file, you may also see any changes to their address appear on your report as well until the association is removed. When a financial associate applies for credit, your file will be checked using the current and previous addresses provided by the individual. If an address isn’t already showing on your report, there’s a chance one will be created.

As well as ensuring information is returned from old addresses, address links also help make sure that everything is provided from your current address too. If you’re someone with an address with multiple formats, for example the address could have a name instead of a number or could be Flat 10 or Apartment 10, you may find that lenders notify the agencies of some of the different variations of your address. By searching the one format of your address, the links then help ensure information held under different variations is also returned meaning a more complete file is used to assess your creditworthiness.

How do address links affect your credit score?

It is a common misconception that address links themselves factor into your score, which is untrue. Instead, it is the information returned from an address link that will be used. If nothing is returned from an address link, it’ll therefore have absolutely no impact on your creditworthiness.

Address links remain on your credit file indefinitely but the older they are, the less likely there will be information returned from them when you apply for credit. When you view your credit report, there will be a date listed for when the address was reported to the agencies but this is simply when it was reported and not a reflection of when you lived at the address. As such, the dates on address links aren’t used by lenders.

What to do if you don't recognise an address

Linked addresses on your credit file should only be cause for concern when you don’t recognise one, as it could be an indication of fraudulent activity.

If you don’t recognise an address on your credit file, it is advisable to check that no accounts or information are tied to it in your name, as you could be held accountable for them. As with any incorrect information on your file, you should query it at the source as soon as possible. If they conclude the address shouldn’t be showing, a lender is able to amend it on your credit report.

It’s not just important to check your credit report regularly to see when new information is added to your credit report, but making sure it’s getting reported correctly by all Credit Reference Agencies could make a big difference when it comes to applying for finance.

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Updated 26/03/2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

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