The Electoral Register and How It Influences Credit Scores
There are many factors that can affect your credit score and they will vary lender-by-lender, but there are certain steps you can take that are likely to have an impact on the amount of credit you can obtain. Being on the electoral register is one of these steps and is something anyone looking to get a loan, mortgage, a credit card, a mobile phone contract or other financial commitments should be informed about.
Below we will explain what the electoral register is, the consequences of not being on it, how to get on the register and how it may affect your credit score.
What is the Electoral Register?
The Electoral Commission is the body in the UK that oversees elections – ensuring they are fair and properly regulated. Registration officers that work for the Commission keep a register of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. It includes your name and address, date of birth and an electoral number, and is used to determine what constituency you are in and where to send ballot cards.
It is also used for certain other purposes, such as in criminal investigations, selecting people to be called for jury duty and, of course, for credit applications. The full register is published once a year and is updated every month. It is held by your local electoral registration office, which will be located within your local council buildings.
There is also an ‘open’ register, also known as the ‘edited’ register, which includes the same information as the main electoral register, but can be purchased by a variety of charitable and business organisations. It is possible to have your details removed from the open register, but you must either request this or select this option when registering.
How to Check if You Are Registered
If you want to check if you are registered on the electoral register you will need to contact your local Electoral Registration Officer. The website About My Vote, which is run by The Electoral Commission, allows you to enter your postcode and find the address, telephone number and email address of your local officer.
It is a legal requirement to register to vote and if you refuse to give details when your local electoral registration office requests them, you may be liable for a fine of up to £1,000. Knowingly adding false information to the electoral register could result in a fine of £5,000 or even prison time. Research carried out in 2014 suggested that up to 7.5 million people eligible to vote had not added their details to the electoral register. The National Voter Registration Drive is now held every year in the UK to encourage people to register and to exercise their right to vote.
Why Being Registered Can Affect Your Credit Score
The reason being on the electoral register may help improve your credit score is because it allows any interested party to confirm that you are who you say you are and that the details you have provided are accurate. It is very important that lenders are able to confirm your identity to avoid problems with fraud and identity theft – the more security that lenders have in terms of information, the more confident they are in lending money. Checking you are on the register is actually one of the simplest ways of potentially helping to improve your credit score.
There may be many incidental reasons why you are not registered to vote, from political apathy to moving house frequently, however the electoral register is one of the most reliable ways of verifying your identity. If you want to ensure that your credit score is an accurate reflection of your financial history, it is important to have your correct details on the electoral register.
How to Get On the Electoral Register
As we mentioned above, if you are not sure of your status regarding the electoral register, you can contact your local electoral office by finding the details on About My Vote.
If you already know that you are not registered, the process of doing so is quite straightforward. The Gov.uk website has a form that lets you apply to be registered – you will need your national insurance number and other basic information like your name and address. If you live in Northern Ireland there is a separate printed form to send to your local office.
Registering on the electoral roll is just one way of potentially helping to improve your credit score, but you should also be vigilant about making payments on time and taking steps to try and keep your financial information safe.
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