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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

How credit agencies use the electoral register

The electoral register is produced for the purpose of voting in elections and referendums. The law allows only legally registered credit reference agencies to purchase a copy of the register to help with fraud checking.

These credit reference agencies cannot pass on your details if you have opted out of the open register.

We cannot assist with any errors that credit reference agencies hold on their records, including incorrect address details or registration history; we can only assist in registering to vote.

Written or verbal confirmation cannot be provided to those organisations (including credit reference agencies) who have already received a copy of register that they are legally entitled to receive, or to other organisations that are not permitted access to a copy of the full version of the electoral register.

What is a credit reference agency?

When you apply for any form of credit, even a mobile phone contract, you give the lender (the company you want credit from) permission to carry out a credit check through a credit reference agency. Credit reference agencies do not decide who should get credit, but the information they provide may help the lender to decide. There are three main credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax and Call Credit.

Why the electoral register matters to financial services

Some organisations will refuse to give you credit or other financial services if your credit report shows that you are not registered to vote at your current address. This is because they use this information to help check that your name and address is correct.

If you have moved or recently moved

Local councils publish their registers (also known as the electoral roll) on 1 December each year and update them each month. If you move, it's important to register to vote at your new address straightaway to make sure your details are added to the electoral register as soon as possible. 

If you have moved recently, always give your previous address when you apply for financial services. If your application is refused because your name doesn't appear on the electoral register, explain that you have just moved. You can also offer other proof that you live at the new address. Organisations will usually accept a:

  • council tax bill
  • gas, electricity, phone or water bill
  • tenancy agreement
  • mortgage details
  • your driving licence

What if my credit report says I'm not on the electoral register

Sometimes organisations might tell you that you have been refused credit because you are not on the electoral register, rather than explain the real reason.

If you think any information on your credit report is wrong, find out from the lender which credit reference agency they use, then contact their Consumer Help Service (which should hold a copy of the council's electoral register) for further assistance and to make amendments to your credit report as necessary.

If you are unsure whether or not your details included on the electoral register, please contact the elections team.

What if I am not eligible to vote?

Contact the lender's credit reference agency Consumer Help Service for assistance and to order a copy of your credit report. You can add a note (called a notice of correction) to your credit report explaining that you cannot register to vote because you are not eligible to vote in UK or EU elections. You can also state in this note that you have documents to prove where you live and how long you have lived there. 

Then, when you apply for financial services in the future, any organisation looking at your report will see this note and hopefully take it into account. The note will mean that any credit application you make may take a little longer than normal to be dealt with but it may be worth a short delay if it helps you get credit when you want it. You may want to contact other credit reference agencies to add a note to the reports they hold on you as well.

Stopping people using your name at your old address

Identity fraud continues to be a problem and you are at most risk when you move home. Redirecting your post will help, as will giving your new address to any organisation you deal with and making sure your name is removed from the electoral register at your previous address (when you register to vote, either online, by phone or by completing a registration form, you can give your previous address and the relevant local authority will be automatically informed on your behalf). 

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