What exactly is ChexSystems?
ChexSystems is a consumer reporting agency that screens bank accounts (CRA). It operates behind the scenes in the financial sector, assisting banks and financial organizations in prescreening fresh clients requesting to open bank accounts. In addition, ChexSystems is used by banks to determine which consumers are most likely to misuse or mismanage their bank accounts based on their historical behavior.
As per the National Consumer Law Center, more than 80% of banks utilize a bank account screening CRA, such as ChexSystems, to determine whether or not to approve customers for new accounts.
ChexSystems assists banks and other organizations with access to your records in assessing risk. In this regard, the organization is similar to credit bureaus, which gather intelligence about your debts. However, certain conditions apply when a corporation can obtain your ChexSystems report. Covered instances under the FCRA include:
- You initiate business transactions, such as applying to a new checking account.
- Requests for which you have given your full written approval.
- Requests for licenses or other government benefits are granted when the law requires financial responsibility to be considered.
- Child support calculations
- Summonses for your financial information may be issued by a judicial order or by a federal court.
ChexSystems, once again, solely collects information about closed bank accounts. As a result, it does not keep track of the data about active bank or credit accounts, including those for credit cards, loans, and credit lines.
How would a ChexSystem function?
An applicant’s ChexSystems data will be reviewed by a bank or credit union. As per the National Consumer Law Center, more than 80% of banks and credit unions use consumer reports via companies like ChexSystems or Early Warning Services to determine whether to approve bank account applicants.
The review procedure is similar to that of registering for a credit card. A card issuer would typically use at least one central credit monitoring bureau to examine your credit. This assists the issuer in determining whether you are a dangerous consumer for a new credit card. Certain banks will also check your credit score whenever you register for a bank account.
Banks and credit unions communicate information about these individuals, including whether or not their accounts were closed. In exchange, the organization gathers such consumer histories and generates risk scores and data for banks to use when evaluating future customers.
ChexSystems collects data on closed checking or other bank accounts. This can include things like:
- New checking account applications
- Opening and cancellation of checking accounts
- Check-writing history, including returned or bounced checks
Overdrafts, overdue debit balances, and suspected identity theft or banking fraud may also be included in your ChexSystems report. In addition, whenever you apply for a new bank account, that specific bank or financial institution may request a copy of your ChexSystems report. It could then use this data to decide whether or not to approve you.
ChexSystems precisely delivers the requested facts to banks and credit unions:
- ChexSystems Consumer Score: This rating is determined by the information contained in your ChexSystems Consumer Disclosure document. Consumer Risk Scores from ChexSystems vary from 100 to 899. The greater your score, the safer you are because it indicates that you are a less dangerous consumer.
- Consumer Disclosure for ChexSystems: This report includes outstanding fines (often from overdrafts), checks that bounced at stores, and suspected fraud. Credit inquests, check orders, and consumer-initiated security freezes are also included. In addition, you can set a restriction on your ChexSystems consumer report if you’re already a victim of identity theft. This ensures that no new financial accounts are registered in your name without your permission.
Individuals can obtain their score and report by requesting it. The agency can provide you with your score and a word, but a ChexSystems report is more valuable. It explains why a bank could have denied you so that you can have one free copy every year. Fill out this consumer disclosure statement on the official ChexSystem website to request the report online.
The report will be mailed to you in the next five business days. However, there isn’t much in your document, which is a positive thing: Except for credit reports, ChexSystems reports are primarily concerned with adverse account history. ChexSystems can remove it if the bank or financial institution that provided the information requests it or if credit reporting rules compel it.
Can ChexSystems Assist Identity Theft Victims?
Unless you’re the victim of identity theft, ChexSystems provides a Security Alert that allows you to freeze your ChexSystems account. By freezing one account, users can prevent fake accounts that an unauthorized user opened from appearing on their private ChexSystems report. If you are a victim of identity theft, contact ChexSystems and your financial institutions to discuss the circumstances and sign up for any available account freezes.
If users notify ChexSystems of identity fraud, ChexSystems must prevent fake accounts from being added to one’s report. In addition, funds opened fraudulently due to identity theft will require proper documentation.
How do you find out that you’re on file?
Many people never experience a problem that necessitates investigating their personal ChexSystems file. However, suppose you’ve recently applied for and opened a new bank account with no delays or rejections. In that case, it’s a promising indicator if your ChexSystems file seems to be in good working condition.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), on the other hand, permits customers to examine their ChexSystems records for free once every 12 months. Online, you can obtain a copy of your personal ChexSystems report. It can also be obtained by phone, fax, or mail request form.
If you do not have a prior history of closed accounts due to difficulties or misuse, your ChexSystems report will be brief and straightforward.
However, whether you have deleterious events in your account history or not, your ChexSystems report would include information on reported data and historical transactions. For example, banks may have reported you to ChexSystems for failing to pay fees, using accounts properly, or having other problems with your bank accounts that resulted in their closure.
Your Chex point total.
ChexSystems assigns a Consumer Score to each individual depending on how dangerous it is for them to open a bank account. You can get your ChexSystems Consumer Score by mail, fax, or online.
Unlike a credit score, which you may monitor regularly to assess your overall creditworthiness, your ChexSystems Consumer Score has little bearing on your day-to-day financial life. You are allowed to seek your ChexSystems score, but unless you have been refused a bank account and would like to know why you likely don’t need to know what it is. The ChexSystems Consumer Score is often more beneficial to banks than to customers.
Is it possible that the score is incorrect?
You have the right to file a dispute if you find information in your ChexSystems report that was also untrue, wrong, or accidentally inserted. This is especially critical if you have been turned down for a new bank account and would like to repair your credit.
How long will you be in the system?
It usually lasts five years.
Even though federal standards enable ChexSystems to store and handle data for up to seven years, the agency only keeps them for five.
If you study your report and see any erroneous or out-of-date information, you may file a dispute with ChexSystems and your financial institution.
If you’re on the list,
You may be unaware that you may have a ChexSystems report until you apply for and are denied a bank account. If you’ve been told that you can’t open a bank account due to adverse ChexSystems reporting, the first thing you should do is ask for a copy of your consumer disclosure. Again, this is provided at no cost to you.
After you have a duplicate of your ChexSystems document, you can thoroughly review it to ensure that all of the data included is correct. You have the right to contest an error or mistake if you notice it. You can do so online at the ChexSystems website, and once a disagreement request is submitted, the company is obligated to identify and understand whether the information is accurate.
Investigations are typically completed in 30 days (21 days for Maine occupants), though they can be renewed for 15 days if additional information is provided, whereas this investigation is underway.
ChexSystems will inform you in writing of the findings when the investigation is completed. This does not ensure that whatever negative information is deleted or corrected, but it is worth investigating if you believe you were incorrectly reported to ChexSystems.
Dealing rights if you’re on the list
The FCRA governs ChexSystems, and as a consumer, you have certain rights to dispute, correct, and clarify the details that ChexSystems collects, just as you do with consumer credit reporting agencies. In addition, you have the right to know if your ChexSystems report is being used against you, among other things.
- Every 12 months, you are entitled to a free copy of your personal ChexSystems report.
- It doesn’t hurt to double-check that the information is correct and that your public image is spotless.
- You have the right to file a complaint and request an investigation into any missing or incorrect information in your ChexSystems document.
What else are my choices if my name appears on the list?
If you have a ChexSystems record, you may be refused a typical checking or savings account. You have two strategies to handle your money in that case.
The first is a bank account with a second chance. Second chance accounts are also referred to as lower-risk accounts and are intended for people who have previously had difficulties with banking. These accounts differ from traditional bank accounts, including deposit requirements (minimum).
- Maintenance fees are charged monthly.
- Limits on transactions
- Using a debit card
- Check-writing privileges
Second chance accounts are available at typical banks and credit unions and online. These accounts can assist you in reestablishing a positive banking history. Although it depends on the bank, you might well be capable of converting them to a regular bank account after a specified period.
When you’ve been rejected for a banking account due to your ChexSystems history, another option for managing your money is to use a prepaid debit card instead. Such cards allow you to load money onto them and withdraw cash or make purchases just like any other debit card. The distinction is that they are not linked to a bank account.
Once making comparisons between prepaid debit card options, look for those that provide the best combination of low fees and additional benefits, such as the ability to enroll in direct deposit or earn cashback on purchase decisions.
Consider the following when selecting a prepaid debit card for spending:
- How many items could you load at once?
- Loading procedures (cash, direct deposit, mobile deposit).
- Where and how the card can be used (for purchases, at ATMs, online bill payments)
- The Internet and digital access are available.
- Fees include the initial card purchase fee, monthly maintenance costs, and reload fees.
A prepaid debit card will not help you build a positive banking history, so you may face complications unless your card has been lost or stolen and you must pay to replace it. However, if you are still unable to meet the criteria for a regular bank account or a second chance bank account, they will be a much more advantageous option for money management than cash.
Are you able to open a bank account?
The simple answer is that you can open a bank account despite being on ChexSystems. However, having a ChexSystems history does not guarantee that you will not be able to open a checking or other performance during the next five years.
A few banks and credit unions provide “second opportunity” checking accounts to people with bad credit histories. Consider other options. It is not the end of the world if you are denied a bank account due to an adverse ChexSystems report or a low consumer score.
If access to opening a bank account is refused,
If you requested a new bank account and were turned down, find out why. You have the right to know if they have recognized your ChexSystems report as just the cause. In addition, you now have the right to speak with ChexSystems, view your report, and dispute any errors.
What you are going to do next is as follows:
- To obtain a copy of your confidential ChexSystems report, contact ChexSystems.
- Examine the report for mistakes or inaccuracies. For example, confirm for bounced checks, identity theft, accounts you don’t recognize, and any previously resolved bank issues that are not depicted relatively.
- You can file a dispute with ChexSystems if there is any inaccurate information in your report. First, however, they must conduct an investigation. Incorrect information is frequently corrected or removed within 30 days.
Can you get yourself removed?
If you have a ChexSystems record due to difficulties with a bank account, the document can stay on your record for up to five years. You must successfully contradict the ChexSystems document or the bank that disclosed you to be excluded before then. You can get a free copy of your ChexSystems report, which you should double-check for errors. If you discover incorrect information, file a dispute with the entity that provided the false information.
These are purely the opinions of the author based on observations and analysis of financial platforms and a study of public reviews and ratings on interest rates offered for mortgage loans, auto loans, and loans on cards. Excerpts from various sources have been used to clarify the facts in this article. A glossary of all the sources used can be found at the end of the article. This article is for educational purposes only and is not financial advice.