Creeped out: The curse of the phantom address


Creeped out: The curse of the phantom address

You might not live in a haunted house – but you could still live at a phantom address. And you don’t even have to believe in ghosts.

A phantom address occurs when that online form you’re working on that promises to auto-complete your address doesn’t work – because it can’t find where you live. Or when you give your address to a service provider over the phone and they claim the system can’t find it. In a way, it feels as though you’ve dropped off the map.

Something spooky’s going on

A new poll* conducted on our behalf has revealed that one in eight Brits have lived at a phantom address at some point during their lives. The people most likely to experience it were those who had resided in a building converted into flats (43%), while those in basement flats and even purpose-built apartments were no strangers to the problem either (31% and 20% respectively).

So, what causes this glitch? Well, it might be because the current address has not been correctly added or updated on the Land Registry. Or, it might be that the property has not been listed as multiple occupancy by the Royal Mail. Whatever the reason, it could end up causing you a headache.

Feeling rejected

The thing is, service providers, lenders, credit agencies and other groups rely on you having an up-to-date address registered. If you don’t, it could make it very difficult for you to access their services.

Nearly one in five respondents to the survey who had lived at a phantom address at some point said they had failed a credit check as a result. A third admitted they were unable to access certain services, like broadband, 17% couldn’t register with utility providers and 1.6% had not been able to complete their mortgage application.

It wasn’t only those after credit and services who were affected either. A fifth of these respondents revealed their mail had gone missing because of their phantom address. Meanwhile, more than one in 20 were unable to enrol in education, and one in 10 had not been able to complete a job application.

What next

If you’re having trouble with a phantom address, the first thing to do is make sure your details are registered correctly on the electoral roll. If you’re not registered at all, it might be time to change that so you can reduce your chances of encountering problems when applying for services in the future.

The electoral roll allows you to register to vote, but if you’re already on there you can also update your address and other details. It only takes five minutes – just visit this page.

If you have recently moved address, it might also be worth investing in the Post Office’s redirection service until you’ve managed to update all your details on your various accounts.

Finally, if you use credit agencies like Equifax, Experian or Callcredit to keep track of your credit report, make sure that the address details they have listed are correct. If they aren’t it could stand in your way of getting credit in the future.

A phantom address can cause problems – but luckily it’s easier to get rid of than a real ghost!


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 24Th July and 31st July 2014, of whom 620 were Scottish residents.