Your address, credit score and fraud

Your address is an essential part of your credit information. Find out what to do if you move home, don’t have a permanent address, or discover that someone’s used your address without permission.

Why is my address important?

Your address – along with other information – allows companies to identify you and link you with your financial behaviour. This can help prevent identity fraud, as well as helping you get the credit you want.

Why should I add previous addresses to my credit report?

Credit reference agencies (CRAs) like Experian usually hold financial information for six years. If you order a copy of your Experian Credit Report or use CreditExpert, you’ll need to tell us your full address history for that period, or the report you see may be missing information. This missing information may still be seen by companies, so it’s important for you to know about it.

It’s also important to check your address history has been recorded correctly. If your Experian Credit Report includes any incorrect addresses, get in touch to ask us to remove them.

Where do companies find my address?

Lenders and other companies may check your address with the:

So, to help with future credit checks, it’s a good idea to ensure your address is registered and up-to-date with both these sources. Councils generally update their registers on a monthly basis, and you can register to vote online in minutes. Your information should then update in your credit report within roughly four weeks, although it can take longer during the annual canvas.

How do I register a newly built house?

If your address hasn’t yet been registered, you can report it as a missing address to the Postcode Address File (PAF). Again, this information will filter through to companies. Take care that your address is formatted in the same way on both the PAF and the electoral roll, as any differences could hinder future credit checks.

Can previous house owners affect my credit score?

No – credit checks are done on people, not addresses. Your address is simply used alongside other information to help confirm your identity. You can be linked to other people on your credit report if you share finances with them, such as a joint mortgage. But your report won't be linked to someone else's just because you've lived at the same address. Even if you’re receiving their mail, about things like debt collection or credit applications, your credit score won’t be affected.

How can I stop someone using my address without my permission?

If you’re receiving post addressed to someone else (either a previous occupant or otherwise), it can’t affect your credit score. But understandably, you’ll want to stop them using your address. Simply write ‘not at this address’ or ‘moved away’ on the envelopes, and post them back to the senders. You don’t need to put new stamps on them. The senders should soon stop sending correspondence to your address.

Can the people I live with affect my credit score?

Not unless you share finances with them, such as a mortgage or joint bank account. If you do have joint finances with someone, they’ll be recorded on your credit report as your 'financial associate'. Companies may be able to see this link when they do a credit check, so it could affect your score. You can see who you’re financially associated with by looking at your Experian Credit Report.

What should I do if my address changes?

Even though there’s lots to do when you move, it’s important to re-register on the electoral roll and update your address with your lenders.

Redirecting your mail is also sensible. A few pieces of mail sent to an old address may be all fraudsters need to steal your identity – helping them access your money and even take out credit in your name. It’s a good idea to redirect your mail for at least one year to reduce the risk of identity fraud.

If you’re concerned about fraud, you may want to get a CreditExpert paid subscription. You’ll receive alerts about certain changes on your report, as well as dedicated support from our experts if you do become a victim of fraud. You’ll also get access to your full Experian Report and Score.

Will moving affect my credit score?

Companies generally like to see stability in your circumstances, so it might cause you problems if you’ve moved frequently in the space of a few years. If you’ve been registered on the electoral roll at your addresses and companies can see this, the damage will be limited. How often you move is only one part of the picture – they will take lots of other things into account when deciding whether to lend to you.

What if I move abroad – does my credit score follow me to another country?

Unfortunately, no. When you move abroad, your credit data will not be transferred there. So at first, you may find it hard to get approved for credit and some services in your new country. This is because they won’t have much or any credit information about you, and they usually can’t ask UK CRAs for access to your data. The exception to this may be if the company is based both abroad and in the UK.

You may want to get a copy of your Experian Credit Report to take with you when you go. You can show this to potential lenders, although it’s up to them whether they take the information into account.

Once you’ve built up a credit history in your new country, you should find it easier to get approved by companies as they’ll have enough information to assess you.

What if I’m returning home from living abroad?

As mentioned already, credit reports are not usually available to lenders across national borders. So if you’re moving back to the UK after a spell abroad, you may need to start building your UK credit history again. However, we do hold information for six years, so depending on how long you’ve been away, there may still be data on your credit report. Just make sure to provide your old UK addresses when you check it.

How does having no fixed address or living in temporary accommodation affect my credit score?

Lenders typically like to see that you haven’t moved around a lot over a short space of time. Since they often use the electoral roll to confirm your name and address, it’s wise to register using a family member’s permanent UK address if you’re in student housing or other temporary accommodation, such as army barracks. Just remember to use the same address when you apply for credit – and make sure the family member will be happy to forward your mail to you.

Doing this may not only improve your credit score and your chances of securing credit, but can also protect you from identity fraud too.

Can I get credit with a BFPO address?

Yes, a BFPO (British Forces Post Office) address shouldn’t stop companies from doing a successful credit check on you. They may have struggled to process BFPO addresses in the past, because they didn’t have a UK postcode. However, the Royal Mail has since issued special UK postcodes for BFPO numbers.

If a company refuses you credit because you have a BFPO address, make sure they’re using the new BFPO postcode rather than the BFPO number from the old addressing system.

You may find that some companies have been slow to update their records with information from the Postal Address File, so their system may not recognise BFPO addresses. But most companies can deal with BFPO addresses manually.