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Address Verification

Address verification

Marvin Gaye once sung that “wherever I lay my hat that’s my home”. While that is a noble sentiment, unfortunately neither the government nor the financial services sector share Marvin’s message when it comes to address verification.

Alongside identity verification, a second element of the “know your customer” regulatory obligation is to verify the residence of a customer.

These rules resemble airport security, existing to be seen to be doing something. The unthinking public are reassured, but the rules do little to address the underlying problem.

Address verification requirements resemble airport security checks. A reassuring appearance, yet largely ineffective.

Institutions perform address verification initially, but there is rarely any ongoing activity to verify residency details are kept up to date.

The usual list of acceptable address verification proofs include items from the following list:

Generally address verification documents must be less than 3 months old. Many institutions still refuse to accept online statement print outs, so opt for receiving original paper based statements for at least one account or bill.

Government issued documents such as a driver’s license or tax assessment notice will also suffice.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Unfortunately it isn’t always so easy.

According to the OECD there are more than 560,000 homeless households in the United States. For each of Australia, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand more than 4 households in every 1000 are homeless. In the United Kingdom the number of homeless households has increased by nearly 15% since 2011.

As if they didn’t have enough problems, all those unfortunate folks would struggle to provide institutions with a recognised proof of residency.

However the homeless are not the only group to experience this problem.

Stay at home parents

Stay at home parents can have trouble passing address verification if all the bills are in the working partner’s name.

What happens when all the bills and accounts are held in the working partner’s name? A stay at home parent would likely have trouble providing valid documents in their own name for address verification. This scenario is unfortunately a common occurrence with more than 1/3 marriages ending in divorce, which presents some problems for the wife should she wish to part company with the husband.

Even if you are neither homeless nor a stay at home parent, providing proof of residency can prove challenging for just about anyone who has recently moved house. Account holders may need to wait a whole billing cycle before statements or utility bills displaying their new address are issued.

Electoral rolls, council tax registers, and credit files can take even longer to reflect your new home. In the interim many people find themselves in a residency twilight zone where depending on where an institution looks they may not pass validation at either their old or new residences!

In these days of identity fraud and regulatory compliance hell an all too common result of this inconsistency is “computer says no” when applying to open an account.

Next Steps

  • Gather suitable proof of address documentation.
  • Can’t find any? Take action now to ensure you can pass address verification checks when you need to.
  • Check out Michael Jasper‘s clever custom Lego creations like the shopping cart above.
  • If you liked this post then please share it with your friends.
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