Frustrated, you asked why, only to be told, “We can’t give you that information.”
You then ordered your ChexSystems report directly from ChexSystems and took a look at the entries.
To your alarm, there are items listed which never happened—at least not to you.
Maybe you see a complaint about check fraud which you never committed.
Perhaps a credit union claims you never paid back an insufficient funds fee, when you know you did and can prove it.
Maybe you even see a report from a bank you have never been a member of.
At this point, it is time to take action. You are being judged and denied banking services because of information that is in your ChexSystems report—information which isn’t even true.
In this article, we will tell you how you can dispute ChexSystems and what to expect from the process. But before that, let’s talk a bit more about why misinformation might end up in your report.
Your ChexSystems Report
First of all, let’s make sure you have your ChexSystems report and you know how to read it! You can order your report via mail, fax, phone or online request. Find out how to get your ChexSystems report.
When you get your report in the mail, you will be able to view a set of entries pertaining to each complaint which has been lodged against you by banks or credit unions. Every entry will provide you with the following information:
- Source of Information
- Reported Name
- Reported Address
- Reported SSN/ID
- Driver’s License
- Date Reported
- Reported For
- Closure Status
- Closure Date
The Source of Information here refers to the bank or credit union that complained about you. The Reported Name, Address, SSN/ID, Driver’s License, RTN (routing number), and Account all should match yourinformation.
Date Reported tells you when the complaint was made, and “Reported For” includes a description of the specific incident. “Closure Status” tells you if the matter was resolved, and “Closure Date” tells you on what day that happened (if it did).
Read over this information carefully to determine whether any of it is inaccurate.
All kinds of incorrect entries can end up in a ChexSystems report. For example, you might find:
- Personal information which is a mismatch for yours (wrong social, wrong address, etc.).
- A bank or credit union listed which you never have used.
- An incident that never occurred.
- No Closure reported for an incident that you know for a fact you resolved.
It is unfair for banks and credit unions to make decisions about you now using this incorrect data. So if you do find something which does not add up, then you may have found an issue worth contesting.
How Erroneous Information Ends up in ChexSystems
There are two main reasons why errors wind up in ChexSystems reports:
- Simple mistakes
Bank employees process a great deal of information every day. As such, clerical errors do sometimes happen. This could account for a mistake with your personal information in some cases, or an incorrect date of resolution on a past incident.
Another type of mistake could concern the status of past incidents, or even the type of infraction committed. An employee could simply type in the wrong description, or forget to update your case after closure has been reached.
In situations like these, it is a matter of getting a hold of the bank or credit union in question and finding out what happened. If you can get to the bottom of the matter, you may be able to get it resolved.
Fraud and Identity Theft
The other major possibility is that you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, and didn’t even know it until now.
For example, perhaps you lost your checkbook a couple years back, and assumed nothing more had come of it. But maybe a thief got a hold of it and wrote checks in your name with insufficient funds. As a result, they bounced, and the bank lost money.
Or maybe your personal information was leaked through a data breach at an online store. An identity thief posing as you then opened an account, perhaps even at a financial institution you never have used. Since then, that person has been passing himself off as you, and has committed all kinds of abuse under your name.
Whether you suspect fraud or a simple mistake, it is vital to take action straightaway to get your ChexSystems report cleared.
How to Dispute Your ChexSystems Report
If you wish to dispute the information in your ChexSystems report, you have two options:
- Dispute the Source of Information (the bank or credit union that filed the complaint)
- Dispute the matter directly with ChexSystems
Ideally, you should do both. In theory, if you contact ChexSystems, they will go ahead and contact the bank on your behalf, but anything you can do to facilitate the process should speed it up and help ensure accuracy. After all, you are the one with insights into any mistakes you think the bank may have made.
Here are the steps for filing your dispute with ChexSystems:
1. Highlight the error in your ChexSystems report.
Your first step is to make it obvious to ChexSystems and the bank what you are disputing on your report. Circle the items in question or use a highlighter to mark them.
Do not send the original to the bank or ChexSystems. Keep it for your records, and send copies instead.
2. Locate the appropriate forms.
Now, let’s say you have several items which you believe are incorrect on your report. You want to dispute all of them with ChexSystems.
You will need to submit separate disputesfor each of the incorrect entries. So you will need to prepare and send multiple dispute letters.
ChexSystems allows you to submit your dispute via fax, mail, or online form.
- If you are going to submit your request online, then you will need to complete the online ChexSystems dispute form.
- If you will be submitting your request via fax or mail, you need to fill out the Request for Investigation form.
Please note that you cannot dispute ChexSystems over the phone where fraud may be involved.
ChexSystems states quite clearly on their website that they are “unable to accept verbal disputes involving identity theft or fraud.”
They do however provide a phone number which you can use in certain cases: 800.513.7125.
ChexSystems suggests that you use this number if you “do not have supporting documentation to provide.” In other words, if you do notneed to submit documentation to prove your case, a representative may be able to help you.
3. Fill out the forms and draft your dispute letters, gathering documentation as needed.
Once you have decided whether to mail, fax, or dispute your case online, you can proceed to fill out the appropriate form.
How to Complete the Online Form
If you fill out the online form, you will need to scroll down past the directions, agree to the Terms and Conditions, and state whether you have received your Consumer Disclosure Report. You then need to verify your age, after which you can fill in your personal information on the form.
Following your personal information, you will see a new section titled “Dispute 1: Details.”
Here you can fill in the type of information you are disputing, the source of the dispute (the bank), and the date you located for the item in your report.
After this, you will find a box which allows you to fill in the “nature of your dispute.” This is where you can type out your letter.
The box for the letter has a 2,000 character limit. So you will either need to keep your letter within that limit, or you will nee to upload it as an attachment.
Remember, you also should upload your report with the circled or highlighted item on it.
You may also upload additional documents if needed to provide proof that your side of the story is correct.
Supported file formats include:
There is a limit of 25 megabytes.
Have another item to dispute? With the online form, you can click on “Dispute Another Item” below your first dispute. This will bring up a second form titled “Dispute 2: Details.”
You can then fill in all the information for that item and submit additional documentation as needed. You have the opportunity to dispute as many as 50 items at a time. You just need to make sure you are filling out a separate Details form for each.
How to Complete the Mail/Fax Form
If you want to submit your request via mail or fax instead of online, you need to fill out the Request for Investigation form.
You will find that this form is much the same as the online one. You just fill out your basic personal information, and then you are asked to provide details on your dispute. A small box is offered for this, with the option to add pages if necessary. This is where you should be attaching your dispute letter.
Not sure what your dispute letter should say? Scroll down for an example.
4. Send your documents.
Once you have everything filled out and ready to go, you just need to submit it.
- Online: Just enter the security code at the bottom of the form, and then click the button that says “Submit.”
- Fax: Send your dispute to 602-659-2197.
- Mail: Your dispute should be sent to ChexSystems, Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN, 55125.
Remember, you should contact the bank or credit union as well. You can send them the same dispute letter and documentation to prove your case. Never send original documents. Retain them and send copies.
At that point, all you need to do is wait for a response. According to ChexSystems, they are able to complete most of their investigations inside of a 30-day timeframe.
If you decide to submit any additional documents during the pending investigation, you can expect ChexSystems to take up to 15 extra days to review that new information.
After ChexSystems has made a decision about your dispute, they will contact you via US mail. Make sure the address you give them when you file the dispute is the one where you wish to receive the response.
Keep in mind that if you also submit the dispute to the bank or credit union, that institution will have its own procedures and timeline for reviewing the evidence you have submitted.
What If No One Responds?
ChexSystems has 30 days in most states to process your dispute (plus an additional 15 if you submit extra information during the investigation). In Maine, the limit is 21 days.
If by chance ChexSystems fails to respond to you within that allotted timeframe, they are required to delete your record. This is true regardless of whether it is accurate or not.
At that point, you can send a “Demand for Removal” letter. Scroll down and you will find a sample of a Demand for Removal Letter.
What If You Win the Dispute But No One Corrects Your File?
You may sometimes encounter a mishap where ChexSystems agrees with you about the dispute, but when you follow up, you find that the erroneous entry has not been removed.
When that happens, you should submit a “Procedural Request” letter. This is simply a letter which you can use to verify any changes made to your report.
Sample Dispute Letter
7805 Hudson Rd., Ste. 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Fax: (602) 659-2197
To Whom It May Concern,
I recently reviewed my ChexSystems report and discovered an entry from [Bank] dated [date] listing [item].
I never had a [item] from [Bank].
I request that you validate this information by contacting [Bank]. If [Bank] provides you with any documentation connected to [item] with my signature, please send copies of this documentation to me.
If [Bank] cannot furnish this documentation, I request the prompt deletion of [item] from my ChexSystems file.
I also request upon doing so that you provide me with an updated copy of my report.
Below, you may view my personal information:
[Your mailing address]
If you have a different issue—for example you never had an account at the bank, or you did have an issue with that bank but you resolved it and the report does not reflect that, you will need to modify the letter accordingly and close any supporting documentation you wish to provide.
Sample Demand for Removal Letter
7805 Hudson Rd., Ste. 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Fax: (602) 659-2197
To Whom It May Concern,
On [date], I sent a letter notifying you of the following error in my ChexSystems report.
[Describe the error here]
30 days have elapsed since I submitted my initial request. I have received no response from ChexSystems.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, I am now submitting a formal demand that this entry be expunged from my report.
If you do not comply, you will be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Please remove this entry right away, and promptly confirm to me that you have done so. You may reach me at the mailing address I have listed below.
If I receive no confirmation from you within 10 business days, I will be investigating legal avenues of action.
Here is my personal information:
[Your mailing address]
[If you have a lawyer, CC that person here]
How Hard Is It to Get Removed from ChexSystems?
Now you know the basic steps you need to take to dispute your ChexSystems report and try and get your file cleared.
You are probably wondering what your chances are of succeeding.
The answer may not be what you are hoping for. It is actually quite challenging to get removed from ChexSystems.
The process can be tedious and involve a lot of back-and-forth even if you have a relatively simple case to make and the evidence backs you up.
If you do not have a strong case, your odds of getting your name removed from the system are even lower.
What If You Lose Your Dispute?
If you do end up losing your dispute with ChexSystems, there are a few steps you should take.
1. Provide a Consumer Statement.
Even if you cannot get your name removed from ChexSystems, you still are permitted to speak for yourself. You can do this in the form of a note in your file known as a Consumer Statement.
In order to get this accomplished, you will need to begin by filling out a form called a “Request for Consumer Statement.”
Clicking above will take you straight to the form so you can get started.
You may provide one Statement for each item of information in your report.
All the information that you provide in your note will be available publicly. Any party that requests to see your report will be able to see your consumer statement, so be mindful of what you choose to reveal.
In the form, you need to fill out your basic personal information in Section 1.
In Section 2, you are allowed to cite up to three items on your report to which your statement is applicable.
At the bottom of the form is a box for your text. Your statement is limited to 100 words, except in the state of Maine, where the word limit is 200 words. Your statement must be completely original and in your own words. You then need to date and sign the form. If you need to attach additional pages, you may.
There are a few rules to be aware of:
- You cannot put any profanity in your statement (this would not help your case anyway).
- The information you put down must all be pertinent to the items you are discussing in the file.
- You cannot reference other businesses or individuals by name (in some cases, this may make writing your statement a challenge).
The form can either be filled out electronically or by hand. You can send it via mail or fax.
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
2. Contact a regulatory organization to file a formal complaint.
This is not always applicable. If ChexSystems and the financial institution you are dealing with have been following procedure and have made a fair judgement against you, contacting a regulator does not make sense.
If however you believe that either party has behaved in an unfair manner, you can get in touch with a regulatory agency. The regulator may choose to provide arbitration in your case to help resolve the issue.
Hopefully you kept copies of all documents and communications during your dispute. You are going to need them to make your case to the arbitrating organization.
Here are the regulators you can contact:
- Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC): This organization oversees nationally chartered banks.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): You can contact this organization regarding any consumer financial institution.
- National Credit Union Administration (NCUA): This organization provides oversight for all nationally chartered credit unions.
- State Attorney General’s Office or State Banking Commission: If the bank or credit union in question is state chartered (rather than nationally chartered), you can contact either of these.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC oversees ChexSystems itself as well as other consumer reporting agencies.
Pick the regulator which is most targeted for your needs and go from there.
3. Take the offending party to court.
This is a last resort, and only if you are really desperate. You are not able to file a lawsuit against ChexSystems until you have gone through the full dispute process, so always do that first.
Going to court is expensive, so it is something to avoid if you can. If your case is decided in your favor, you should be awarded $1,000 for every FCRA violation—assuming that you do not settle out of court (which is far more likely). Your ChexSystems record also should be removed.
You can reduce your chances of needing to resort to these steps by following procedure during your dispute, understanding your rights, maintaining a paper trail, and providing all the information necessary for ChexSystems to resolve your case.
Additional Notes on ChexSystems Disputes
- If you haven’t yet, familiarize yourself with your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- Happen to have filed for bankruptcy? If you send a copy of either the filing or your discharge document to ChexSystems, they should remove you from their database.
- Handle your ChexSystems dispute on your own. Do notfall for ChexSystems removal scams. Companies offering to remove you from ChexSystems for a fee are just out to get your money.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Identity Theft?
There are a couple more matters which should be discussed in the context of ChexSystems disputes. One is the issue of identity theft.
If identity theft may account for why you are in ChexSystems, you will need to take some additional steps beyond just disputing your report.
You should do the following right away:
- Immediately contact the companies where the fraud took place. You may discover more parties are involved than just the bank or credit union.
- Contact any of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and order your credit reports. You do not need to contact them all, as the one you contact will get in touch with the others. You also should place a fraud alert on your reports.
- Contact the FTC and report the theft of your identity.
- File a report with your local police department.
Your next steps should include the following:
- You have the power to close accounts which fraudsters have opened in your name. To do so, contact the fraud departments of the relevant businesses.
- Get charges removed. This is also a matter of contacting fraud departments. You need to explain to them that those charges had nothing to do with your own actions.
- Contact the credit bureaus to dispute the fraudulent information on your credit reports.
- Strongly consider a credit freeze and/or extended fraud alert. You need to contact the three credit bureaus to handle this. Each bureau will need to be contacted separately.
Depending on the specifics, there may be situations where further steps are required. Read a guide from the FTC on this topic titled, “Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan.”
What If All the Information In Your Report Is Accurate?
Coming back to the dispute against ChexSystems, there may be cases where lodging a dispute is simply not worth it. If upon reviewing your report you determine that none of the information is inaccurate, contesting it would be a waste of time.
If that is true—or if your dispute fails—do not panic. There are ways you can get back to banking and return to your regular life.
What To Do in the Meantime: Open an Account with a Non-ChexSystems Bank Right Now
If you want to try and dispute ChexSystems, that is up to you. If you believe you have a shot at getting your name removed, go for it—there is no reason to let false information about you float around.
But it is important to be realistic. You are up against a challenge. Getting your name removed from the ChexSystems database may take quite a bit of time and effort. And it may not happen at all. A lot of customers get nowhere with the dispute process, even if the truth is on their side.
Whether you decide to proceed with your dispute or not, the best thing you can do right now is get back to banking.
That’s right—you do not need to wait until your ChexSystems file clears to start banking again (which is a really good thing, since the information could stay on your file for up to 5 years).
What you can do right now is open an account with a bank which doesn’t use ChexSystems, or apply for a second chance bank account.
These are institutions which understand that even the most responsible consumers can go through rough patches—and deserve a second chance. They do not use ChexSystems to make determinations about account eligibility.
With a non-ChexSystems bank account, you can enjoy the convenience of online banking, a debit card for personal use, and more. Find out how to get started with non-ChexSystems banking.