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This is a hypothetical situation. Let's say Bob, who lives in the UK, has a lot of debt to bank A, about £10,000 in credit card debt and another £10,000 or so in loans, overdrafts, and unpaid fees.

What were to happen if Bob opened a new account with bank B, and just moved to a new address, without telling anyone his new address? (Except maybe Bank B)

Bank A will pursue Bob at his old address, but he is not there. If he leaves no forwarding address, Bank A will not find him. Bob keeps Bank B happy and keeps account in credit.

Besides damaging his credit rating, are there any repercussions to this?

If it doesn't work, I'm just curious as to why? At what point does it fail?

closed as off-topic by Aganju, Pete B., Dheer, Nathan L, Dilip Sarwate Feb 23 '18 at 20:15

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    Bank A will find Bob. Credit reference agencies are very good at tracking people. – Mike Scott Feb 23 '18 at 13:18
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    If avoiding debt were really that simple, it would be a standard tactic of deadbeats. In the US, at least, that worked well enough up through the 1950s, but computerization and data sharing has made that obsolete. – RonJohn Feb 23 '18 at 13:24
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    "What if Bob gives Bank B a PO box instead of his real address? Then literally nobody knows his address.." Sure, because now Bob lives completely "off grid", grows his own food, generates his own power, pays cash for everything, never uses NHS, etc. – RonJohn Feb 23 '18 at 13:29
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    I'm voting to close this question as it asks about illegal activity. – Aganju Feb 23 '18 at 14:38
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    "whereas not paying a debt is not fraud." Asking how to hide from paying debt indicates mens rea (guilty mind). – RonJohn Feb 23 '18 at 15:14
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FWIW the simple answer to your question is,

  • yes, you could "drop of the grid" like this (so as to save a whole 10,000 quid)

but

  • it is incredibly difficult to do, if you want to "never be found again"

It goes spectacularly beyond "changing address".

There is a whole culture about this sort of thing. You can read books like:

books!

websites and clubs!

similar endeavours!

Note that if you "change your address" as described, they will find you in about 5 seconds, it means nothing. You will be trivially known by your licenses, cards, phones, utilities, tax connections, fines, etc etc etc.

"If it doesn't work, I'm just curious as to why?" In short, these days there's a huge amount of tracking information (passports, driver's licenses, various national numbers, birth certificates, plastic cards, corporate papers, marriage/etc certificates, tax departments, and so on). Each time you "sign up for something" all these things are needed. Simply, you can't walk in to a bank and say "oh, my address is blah, honest - give me an account!"

You are basically describing a fake identity: doing so is a "spy-level" achievement.

Note that as RonJohn simply explains in a comment, you basically could in fact more or less do this until, let's say, 100 years ago. But the modern world has an incredible amount of "papers, please" activity. It's that simple. (There was remarkably little consumer credit then, for this reason!)

It's worth remembering that passports, for goodness sake, were only invented in Napoleonic times (ie, by Napoleon - damn you, Napoleon!) Before that when you travelled around the world you'd say things like "I'm from England - honest. You can tell by my accent. And my name is XYZ, no really, it is." Commercial transactions, credit, then were really only done amongst hugely trusted parties, guilds and the like, and/or only very local-knowledge.


Probably the most literal answer to your question is:

In your hypothetical scheme: when you open the account at bank B - and indeed, when you first opened one at bank A: these days (ie, for 70? years) you need a huge amount of base identifying material.

Notably, things like birth certificates, driver's etc licenses, passports and so on.

Further, merely to assert that your house address is such and such, you need a LOT of supporting evidence, which identifies you (utilities, leases, etc). {And indeed, back when you got those things, you needed a lot of paperwork to get those things.}

And we haven't even reached national identity numbers - you'll need those, too.

(Thus, the trivial answer to your question is just: "You will have the same social security number at both banks" and they will instantly know who you are.)

On top of that, these days, say you have "a birth certificate". It, uh, cough, used to be you could forge those as easy as pie. But these days the "piece of paper istelf" is of little consequence: much like with passports at borders, it's simply collated, electronically, with the actual government records.

(Remember in old-days movies, you had "fake passports"? Made by some master "forger" with a microscope and pots of ink? (Which was largely nonsensical.) Have you noticed in new movies - say, in Ready Player One, or, I Am Number Four - when someone gets a "fake" passport, the way it is explained in the film is that some master "hacker" is able to "hack in to" the "government computers" and make the fake passport records. The actual piece of paper/plastic is not of much consequence. (Again, this is equally nonsensical, nobody's going to "hack in" and make passport records.))

Hope it's clear !

  • 'Simply, you can't walk in to a bank and say "oh, my address is blah, honest - give me an account!" ' ==> You actually can. Not initially, but many banks do not ask for proof when you change address.. – CaptainCodeman Feb 23 '18 at 16:52
  • Agree with your summary. Would also add, that bank B will eventually see your credit rating plummet, and while that probably won't jeopardize your cash accounts with them; it will probably reduce or end their willingness to extend you any significant amount of credit. – Keith Feb 23 '18 at 16:54
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"without telling anyone his new address"

Think that through. I live in the US so I don't know all about UK laws and culture, but:

Your banker is not the only person who knows your address. There's DVLA where you get your driver's license. The National Health Service where you get medical care. Social Security for your retirement benefits. Inland Revenue Service. Your employer. Probably many others. If you try to run out on your debts, surely the debt collectors will take the elementary step of checking with various government agencies to see if you have reported a change of address.

To pull off what you're suggesting you would have to not only not tell your bank that you moved, you would have to quit your job, drop out of all government programs, give up your drivers license, several all ties with any existing business, and quit paying income taxes. If you want to ever be able to get a job or drive a car again, you would then have to get fake documents to create a new identity. In the US this involves breaking many laws. I suspect it does in the UK also.

Can it be done? Sure. People do it every day. But it's a lot of work and if you get caught you go to jail. I don't know how much your debts are, but is escaping those debts worth starting a whole new life and being on the run from the police for the rest of your life?

If you are really over your head in debts, I suggest declaring bankruptcy as a more realistic option.

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    My only observation is that whilst a lot of organizations will hold personal information about you, disclosing it without your consent may well be illegal under data protection laws. So, it won't be entirely straightforward for debt collectors to catch up with people who do a vanishing act. – richardb Feb 24 '18 at 13:25
  • You don't have to do it forever, it's just until they stop chasing you or until 6 years passes, whichevere comes first. You could take out private healthcare in the meantime, and the employer could have the new address; there is not reason why the employer would reveal your address to a creditor.. – CaptainCodeman Feb 24 '18 at 17:29
  • @richardb I don't know what all the laws about this in the US are, never mind the UK. I do know that when my ex-wife declared bankruptcy, years after our divorce, creditors tracked me down, even though I had moved three times since the divorce, and tried to get information from me on her present address. (Like most divorces it was pretty hostile but I didn't see any point in helping creditors track her down. Especially when they told me obvious lies like, "You know, it's to her advantage to pay off this debt before the bankruptcy goes through." Umm, yeah.) – Jay Feb 24 '18 at 19:54

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