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Have Your Say: armed forces mortgages

A British soldier patrolling near Basra
Services personnel may constantly move from country to country

For most of us, the effect of the credit crunch means finding a good mortgage deal is a new challenge, but for some it is nothing new.

For members of the armed forces, applying for credit is even harder.

Because services personnel usually spend long periods of time abroad, it is difficult for lenders to assess their credit rating.

If you are in the military, have you had good or bad experiences with financial firms?

What more do you think could be done to help those in the armed forces?

If you have been serving abroad, have you found it difficult to obtain credit, loans or other financial products?

Perhaps you are in another occupation which means you experience similar problems.

We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below - the debate is now closed.

To be on the normal electoral roll you actually have to be resident at that address
John, Poissy, France
The voters roll problem affects anyone who goes abroad to work. While you can stay on the voters roll in the UK despite living and working abroad, after three years abroad you will be moved on to what is called the "Register of Overseas Electors" and - although you can still vote in UK national and European elections (but not local elections) - your details disappear from the normal Electoral Register which is what the credit reference companies use for credit checks. You can ask Experian etc. to add an explanatory note at the start of your credit record, but how many potential lenders actually read those notes is doubtful. To be on the normal electoral roll you actually have to be resident at that address - and that also means paying council tax there.
John, Poissy, France

I always state the companies that keep the unwritten pact of trust with the services
Bob, RAF Lyneham
I went into the local building society to apply for my first mortgage aged 19, I was single it was my first house. The lady was very nice but as the standard wait for a mortgage was three months, she was having a hard job not laughing at my chances. Two minutes later the manager had personally offered me up to two and a half times my low salary and "Had I found a property yet"? In 1978 a guaranteed income for nine years from the RAF opened many closed doors. In 1990 when Kuwait was invaded, only one company kept our life insurance premiums the same. Lots of us could not get any cover with other companies. Now I'm well off no mortgage and lots of investments. I advise many fellow servicemen and I always state the companies that keep the unwritten pact of trust with the services.
Bob, RAF Lyneham

I have just heard the item advising members of the armed forces to retain a UK address to help their credit rating. I have experience of the flip side of this. I live alone since my granddaughter joined the armed forces. However, while she counted this as her home address, I lost my single person's discount on my council tax and had considerable difficulty persuading the council that I was entitled to the discount. I stopped registering her to vote here to help my case and advised her to make other arrangements.
Phoebe Merrick, Romsey

I'm tired of being considered a financial pariah because I chose to serve
Phil Buckley
I've been married for 31 of my 35 years in the Armed Forces. During that 31 years I have had 16 different addresses, 6 of those overseas. I can understand having to prove my creditworthiness in another country but why should I have to start from scratch when I come 'home'? The last time I came back, despite having held the same UK bank account for 20 years and 2 UK credit card accounts while I was in the USA, the BFPO address was not recognized by the credit agencies and the mere mention of my US domestic address kicked out the application. You'd think I'd been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure rather than having been out of the country On Her Service. The credit agencies need to know who we are but they need to know how we live (16 addresses in 31 years was not by choice) and how we vote. Many are not on a local electoral register due to the regular moves. There needs to be a different way of scoring us for credit. Recognising BFPO addresses would be a start. A link with the MoD paymasters would be another. Maybe the ability to register with the credit agencies as service personnel. Whatever, I'm tired of being considered a financial pariah because I chose to serve.
Phil Buckley

Simple things like applying for credit cards and loans online is impossible as the web pages don't accept BFPO addresses. It can be very frustrating. The recommendation to us a UK address is no good as members of the armed forces (like me) mainly have to use a parents address. Is this legal?
Mark B

I tried three times to open a cash ISA with NS&I but each time they rejected it
I am in the UK armed forces and have been living abroad for over two years. Opening a cash ISA with most institutions requires proof of ID and address, which I am able to provide to their satisfaction, except one institution, National Savings, who insist on this paperwork reaching them within 14 days of the application, which is virtually impossible with the delays in postal delivery to service personnel abroad. This tax year I tried three times to open a cash ISA with NS&I but each time they rejected it because my paperwork didn't arrive in time and the telephone helpdesk gave the impression it was beyond their control. In the end I opened the ISA with a different provider.

It is not just members of the armed forces who are affected by the banks' inability to assess creditworthiness accurately. I have lived abroad as a civilian for seven years, and there are real issues making sure that our credit rating reflects our actual credit risk. It is interesting that in a world which is getting smaller in so many other ways, banking still seems to operate entirely within individual national boundaries.
Guy, Oxford

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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External internet links
29 Feb 08 |  Moneybox
Your credit rating explained
11 Jan 08 |  Business
ID checks to fight property fraud
18 Feb 08 |  Business


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