It may be the stuff of SciFi dreams, but I have recently perfected the invisibility cloak. I neither appear to exist, nor have lived at either of my previous two addresses over the last nearly 20 years. This seems a little strange, as I had really expected that Big Brother had been watching me more closely than that.
Setting up a basic household utility at our new home, the company ran a standard credit check on me. It came up negative; I apparently appeared to be a credit risk. This seemed unlikely, as our credit card company deem us as eligible for laughably huge potential credit limits on our account, which if we were a real credit risk, they would not.
I had to find out more from a credit-check agency. They confirmed there was a problem. Perhaps it was over precise address discrepancies. However, solving it proved to be complicated. Their researches said I had not lived at my previous address – not even under three possible variations of the property address. In fact there was no evidence of me having been there over the past 14 years at all. Well, perhaps some items were joint accounts in my wife’s name. No, they confirmed, she hadn’t lived there either – apparently – which is strange, ‘cos I saw her there, every day.
So look back in the records to an earlier address, where there were no potential discrepancies. No, neither of us had been there either, they confirmed. We have clearly just vanished.
At first this was quite amusing.
That was until I needed to actually get it sorted and get the utility set up for the new home. Until my credit rating is sorted, the utility firm can’t set up my new account. The credit check agency claim they do no more than hold data, and pass it on to those requesting if I was credit-worthy. I pointed out that I clearly did exist, and had had various credit transactions they didn’t have listed – they agreed, but ‘weren’t in a position to rectify the situation’. This does not, in the mean time, stop them recirculating the acknowledged flawed data. Added to which, I discovered that all attempts to check your credit rating score negative points on your credit rating too.
I asked for details of how to contact the independent Ombudsman regulating the industry/company, to see how to proceed in getting my identity clarified. It seems that the credit check agency system is rather broken, if my experience was anything to go by. I didn’t get much help; but eventually through the bank issuing my account, have managed to make a couple of steps in the right direction.
A couple of months ago, a parishioner rang asking for financial help. They had been offered a loan; found a banking error with the paperwork, had to therefore re-apply, but because of the additional credit check, now fell below the threshold. The issuing bank now declined the offer, even though it was previously their error. Suddenly I have become sensitised to the downward spiral of credit validation, of how those in border-line financial situations so struggle to cope every day. I wished I had been able to support those parishioners better.
Invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, sometimes.