Why did Royal Mail wipe our address from the map?

We were told we weren’t on the electroral roll and were refused credit

Our credit history was spotless until 2011 when Royal Mail, for no apparent reason, changed the address of our flat from “Flat 1/1, 2B” to “Flat 1, 2B” in its database. We only found out when, all of a sudden, we were refused credit.

Our credit reports started showing we weren’t on the electoral roll (untrue) and had no credit history (also untrue). As a result, TV Licensing started to insist we did not hold a licence for our address, although we’ve had one for 10 years.

At the time, I spent two months trying to sort the problem with everyone involved, namely the council, Royal Mail and the credit reference agency Equifax.

The council insisted it could not amend the Flat 1/1 address on the electoral roll to match Royal Mail’s Flat 1 and Royal Mail was unable, or unwilling, to change its records. Meanwhile, drop-down menus on websites only give the Flat 1 option.

The other credit agencies, CallCredit and Experian, have managed to link Flat 1 with Flat 1/1 on my files, but seven years on Equifax has not.

Back in 2011 it told me to ask Royal Mail to align its address database with the council’s, which I did to no avail. Now, it suggests the opposite, so back to square one.

It’s like my husband and I have been wiped from the surface of the Earth. These people have so much control over our lives – we’ve been refused credit and had to pay £150 deposit just to get a mobile phone contract.

All it needs is for a human, rather than a computer, to use some commonsense and link the addresses or amend the file.

PR, Dumbarton

Your nightmare is not, alas, uncommon. A small discrepancy on a credit file can annihilate someone’s financial standing. And it gets worse.

It turns out Equifax has given you an address of its own invention – namely “Flat 1-1, 2” which doesn’t match any property in the area.

And, yes, it gets even worse. When I contacted Royal Mail and Equifax, the former immediately changed your address to the Flat 1/1, 2B format, at the same time as Equifax agreed to amend it to … Flat 1, 2B.

Royal Mail claims that the address was changed by the council in August 2011, then changed back three months later, but the council denies this, and the electoral roll was never altered.

Meanwhile, Equifax admits that it should have corrected your details when you first requested it, and has given you £150 to make up for its inertia.

Whether these latest developments will unblock your credit remains to be seen.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


Anna Tims

The GuardianTramp

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