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1 in 5 inhabitants of phantom addresses have failed a credit check because of where they live

14th October 2014 Print

As Halloween approaches, visiting a ghost house may be something many are keen to do in order to get a fright. However, for one in eight (16%) people in the UK, living at a phantom address is something they experience all too often.

A phantom address is one that can’t be found when filling in online forms that use the auto fill-in function. Residents may also encounter difficulties when they give their address to someone over the phone, if that person is also relying on a computer system to find the details.

According to the study, carried out on behalf of Ocean Finance, the addresses most likely to be AWOL are those of buildings that have been converted into apartments - with more than two-fifths (43%) of respondents who have lived at this type of property revealing they have experienced the curse of the phantom address. There are a few reasons why this might be the case, such as the Royal Mail not listing that the address is in multiple occupancy, or the details not being correctly added to the Land Registry.

The side effects of living at a phantom address range from the mildly inconvenient (22% of these inhabitants could not find their postcode; 20% could not locate their street and 18% found their home was assigned a different name or number to the one they used) to real horror stories. Nearly one in five (19%) of these respondents said they had failed a credit check as a result of their phantom address. This could send a shiver down the spine of anyone wanting to borrow in the near future who has encountered this problem with their address before.

As well as difficulty accessing credit, some people have even had problems looking for work as a result – with one in 10 (11%) saying they had not been able to finish a job application because of the error. Meanwhile, a third (30%) of respondents who have lived at an address like this at some point said they had been unable to get services like broadband, while 17% had trouble registering for utilities.

Ian Williams, spokesman for Ocean, says: “This Halloween, spare a thought for the Brits who are living in their very own ghost house – one that is completely off the map as far as some services are concerned. While in most cases a phantom address is simply a matter of inconvenience, when it’s standing in the way of people applying for jobs or accessing credit, it can be a very real horror story.”