If you have had trouble trying to open a bank account recently, there is a good chance that it is because you have been listed in ChexSystems. ChexSystems is a credit reporting agency and check verification service which around 80% of banks in the US use to screen customers looking to open accounts.
If you are in ChexSystems, you have what is known as a “ChexSystems Consumer Score.” Similar to a credit score, this is a numerical value representing the level of risk that ChexSystems associates with you.
This article will teach you more about ChexSystems consumer scores and how you can request yours. If you want to learn more about ChexSystems itself, please see our article, “What is ChexSystems?“
ChexSystems Score vs. Credit Score?
ChexSystems scores and credit scores are not the same thing. A lot of consumers mix them up, but they are separate metrics. You can have both a credit score and a ChexSystems score.
Your Credit Score
Your credit score is determined through FICO or VantageScore. It’s a numerical metric based on the contents of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Credit scores usually range between 300 and 850. The higher the number, the better.
What goes into calculating your credit score? Typically, your score reflects your payment history. It takes into account how long your credit history is and how consistent and timely you have been with payments. It also considers what kinds of outstanding debt you have, your credit limits, and your use of those limits. If hard inquiries are made about your credit, those will lower your score slightly.
Lenders check your credit score when you are applying for any sort of loan or line of credit. If you have a low score, you may not qualify for favorable terms (or qualify for the loan at all). If you have a high score, you will have an easier time qualifying and can enjoy lower interest rates and fees.
Your ChexSystems Score
Your ChexSystems Consumer Score is generated based on a different model than your regular credit score.
ChexSystems scores range between 100 and 899, so that is a wider range than you see for regular credit scores.
As with your standard credit score, a higher number is better. A customer with a low ChexSystems score like 100 is seen as very risky. A consumer with a higher score like 899 is seen as presenting a lower risk.
How to Get Your ChexSystems Score
If you are trying to open a bank account, knowing your ChexSystems score can help you understand the level of risk which banks and credit unions associate with you.
You have a right under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to see your credit scores. That includes your ChexSystems score.
There are two ways that you can order your ChexSystems Consumer Score.
Here are the steps for both.
1. Begin by filling out the “Order Your ChexSystems Consumer Score” form on the ChexSystems website.
You can either fill it out electronically and print it, or print it out and fill it out by hand. On the form, you can view the terms and conditions. It should take you only a couple of minutes to fill out; it is very brief.
2. Mail your completed form to the following address:
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
1. Begin by filling out the “Order Your ChexSystems Consumer Score” form on the ChexSystems site.
2. Once it is completed, fax it to 602.659.2197.
After ChexSystems receives your request, a reply will be sent to you within 5 business days through U.S. mail. Remember, you will need to wait for it to arrive, which may require additional business days.
Need to Request a ChexSystems Score For a Minor?
It is only possible to request a ChexSystems score if you are age 18 or older. So, there may be situations where you need to request a ChexSystems Consumer Score on the behalf of a minor.
If you do need to do this, you will need to include the following documentation along with your request:
- A copy of the minor’s Social Security card.
- A copy of the minor’s birth certificate which has been notarized.
- A copy of the driver’s license or ID card of the parent or guardian.
- Proof of the address of the parent or guardian.
- If your name is on the birth certificate, you do not need to provide any further proof that you are the legal guardian. However, if it doesn’t, you will need to furnish a court record or similar legal document which verifies your status as guardian.
Requests on the behalf of minors take the same amount of time to process as those for adults. ChexSystems should reply to you through U.S. mail within five business days.
You Should Also Request Your ChexSystems Report
Once you have your ChexSystems score, you should have a pretty good idea of how risky you appear to banks and credit unions.
You can request your ChexSystems score annually to see if your score has improved or declined. This is a good way to keep track of your status.
It is not the only information that banks and credit unions can see regarding your ChexSystems file, however. Along with your score, they can also view the information on your report.
Your report includes detailed information on financial institutions that have reported you for infractions to ChexSystems in the past.
This information goes into calculating your score. Your score tells you how “risky” you are, but not why you have been assigned a certain score. For that, you need to look at the report.
Thankfully, you have a legal right to this information, just as you have a legal right to view your ChexSystems score. Find out how to order your ChexSystems report.
Once You Know Your ChexSystems Score, You Can Take Action
If you find out that you have a low ChexSystems score, it will probably explain why banks and credit unions are turning you down for a new account.
At that point, however, you can take immediate action to remedy the situation. You can order a copy of your report and dispute it if necessary.
It is important to know that the information on your ChexSystems report remains on file for five years. It can be very hard to clear your file through alternative means such as dispute.
Don’t want to wait five years to open a bank account? You don’t have to. Many consumers are in the same predicament you are. This is why there are now non-ChexSystems banks and second chance bank accounts that cater to those with low ChexSystems scores.