Article by Amy Flower - 9th May 2012

Not Listed On The Electoral Roll At Your Current Address?

One of the most frequent queries we receive at checkmyfile is from consumers who know full well that they are registered on the Electoral Roll, but the data at Experian, Equifax or Callcredit fails to show this.

Often, our customer has had an application for credit declined and, after careful investigation, the underlying reason is that, on the credit reference agency’s version of the electoral roll at least, they are not registered on the Electoral Roll at their current address.

This can easily be rectified by obtaining written confirmation of your registration from your local Electoral Registration Office (you can find contact details of your Electoral Registration Officer listed under your local council in the phone book) and sending copies to each of the credit reference agencies with a written request that your Electoral Roll status is updated.

Between August and November each year an Annual Canvass of Electors is carried out seeking details of everyone resident in each household, aged 17 years old or over. This information is compiled by local Electoral Registration Officers, and the data collected from prospective voters is sold to the credit reference agencies on 1 December.

The credit reference agencies then transfer all of the data to their own computers, and usually within 4-9 weeks, the updated version of electoral roll information shows on credit reports.

Often, you can request written confirmation of your Electoral Roll status from your local council free of charge. But we are currently hearing from more and more customers who have tried to obtain confirmation and in response are being faced with a request for payment.

The charges for obtaining confirmation letters vary from council to council and the amount is charged entirely at their discretion, for example, Sefton Council - £25.00, Manchester City Council - £10.00, Trafford Council - £10.00, St Edmundsbury Borough Council - £10.00, Sevenoaks District Council - £20.00.

In theory you could simply seek a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act 1998, which would cause the council much more work (as they would have to search all council records and not just the Electoral Roll details) and which by law cannot cost more than £10. We’re not saying that you should try that, but you might mention it when faced with a request for a fee to negotiate a fairer price.

The importance of being registered on the Electoral Roll at your current address can be the deciding factor of your credit application being accepted or declined by a lender. It is used to verify your identity, to measure stability at your current address and, as credit reports started out simply by combining the Electoral Roll details with judgment records, it remains the base index of credit reports – it is the ‘hook’ upon which all other data is hung. If a lender can’t find you registered on the Electoral Roll at your current address, there will be a strong suspicion that your full credit file is hung on some other address that you haven’t disclosed.

The Electoral Roll information on your credit report will also have a negative impact on your credit score if you are not registered at your current address.

So all in all, if you are a bit reluctant to pay a fee for a simple letter to your Electoral Registration Office so that you can update your credit report with the latest Electoral Roll information, you will need to weigh up what the impact is of not being registered will have on your credit report, and future applications for credit, against the cost.

Don’t forget to send copies to the credit reference agencies and keep the original in a safe place until you have seen your credit report being updated with the latest information.

Amy Flower is a Credit Analyst at Checkmyfile. She has a degree in law. You can contact her at amy.flower@checkmyfile.com

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