If you recently were turned down for a new bank account, the employee who notified you probably told you something like that.
You then likely asked, “Why am I in ChexSystems? What does the report say?”
The employee then might have replied with something like, “I’m sorry, but I cannot tell you the specific reason.”
Nothing is more frustrating than being told that you cannot open a bank account—and cannot even know the reason why. How can you be expected to fix something if you do not even know what the problem is?
In this article, we are going to tell you how you can order your ChexSystems report and find out exactly why you have been denied a bank account.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about ChexSystems basics.
What is ChexSystems?
Most customers have never even heard of ChexSystems until they are told they are listed in it. If you are in that boat, you have no idea what ChexSystems even is, or why it would stand in the way of your opening a new bank account.
Here is the short answer:
ChexSystems is a service which provides credit reporting and check verification for banks and credit unions. Participating institutions use ChexSystems to screen potential banking customers.
Around 80% of all banks and credit unions in the USA use ChexSystems. If you are listed in ChexSystems, it means you have been flagged as a customer who might cost a banking institution money.
There are a lot of reasons why customers wind up listed in ChexSystems, ranging from the totally innocuous to the outright fraudulent. Some examples include depositing uncollectible checks, unpaid overdrafts, non-sufficient funds losses, and so on.
Even if all you did was make an innocent mistake in the past, you might find that it is enough to prevent you from opening a bank account now.
To learn more about what ChexSystems is and how it works, see our article, “What is ChexSystems?” Otherwise, read on to learn how you can find out why you have a ChexSystems record.
Why Won’t the Bank Employee Tell You More?
First of all, why can’t the bank employee just tell you why you are in ChexSystems? Why are they giving you a runaround?
Many customers assume that the answer is that the bank employee doesn’t actually know why you have a black mark in ChexSystems—but this is not the case.
The bank employee can see the details of your record, but they are not allowed to tell you what the report says.
The reason for this is to protect the banking institution. Think about it. If the employee tells you the reason you are in ChexSystems and you deny it or try to explain it away, it is simply your word vs. ChexSystems. You might say something manipulative.
But if the employee does not tell you why you are in ChexSystems, he or she can continue to ask you questions and see what information you expose about yourself.
You might say something which confirms the content of the report (or not). Either way, this ultimately gives the employee more insights into your character.
Not all red flags in ChexSystems result in denials. Sometimes exceptions might be made. Many customers are turned down outright, however.
How You Can Order Your ChexSystems Report Right Now
So say you were turned down for a bank account. Since you cannot expect the bank to tell you the reason, how can you find out what your ChexSystems record says?
As a consumer, you have a right to find out why you are being denied banking services. As such, you can order a ChexSystems report straight from ChexSystems itself. This is referred to as the “FACTA Free Annual Report.”
As the name indicates, you are entitled to receive one copy of this report every year. You are guaranteed this right through the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) amendments to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You may use any of the following 4 methods:
- Online Request
Here is exactly how to submit your request via each of these channels.
- Print out the Consumer Request for Disclosure Form.
- Fill out all the information in the form. This should only take you a few minutes as the form is a single page. Note that if you prefer, you can always fill it out electronically and then print it out.
- Fax the completed form to this number: 602.659.2197.
- Print and fill out the Consumer Request for Disclosure Form.
- Mail the completed form to the following address:
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
- Call 800.428.9623.
- Provide the requested information through the set of automated voice prompts.
4. Online Request
- Visit the Consumer Disclosure Request Page on the ChexSystems website.
- Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
- Answer all questions and fill out all fields on the page.
- Input the security code to prove that you are a human.
- Click on the “Submit” button.
Once your request for your ChexSystems report has been received, it should be sent out to you within five business days through US mail.
Note that it will be sent within that timeframe. It may take you slightly longer to receive it.
Interpreting Your ChexSystems Report
When you get the report, you will see some general information listed on top. After that, there will be (potentially) a number of entries, one for each incident which got you listed in ChexSystems.
You should see the following information in each entry:
- Source of Information (the bank or credit union which reported you to ChexSystems)
- Reported Name (this is your name, as reported by the bank)
- Reported Address (this is your address, as reported by the bank)
- Reported SSN/ID (this is your social security number, as reported by the bank)
- Driver’s License (this is your driver’s license number and state of issue)
- RTN (this is the routing number for the account in question)
- Account (this is the accounting number for the account in question)
- Date Reported (this is the date the institution reported you on)
- Reported For (this is what the institution reported you for, i.e. “Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Activity,” “Account Abuse,” etc.)
- Closure Status (this indicates whether the issue was resolved favorably or unfavorably or not at all)
- Closure Date (if there was closure, the date of that closure will be listed here)
Using this information, you can come to an understanding of why you may have been denied a bank account.
Naturally certain offenses are worse than others, and the closure status of the issues at hand can have an impact too.
If a bank employee sees that you committed a minor violation and that you paid for it in full, there is a better chance they will open account for you than if you committed fraud and/or never paid back the amount in question.
Of course, banks are not always fair. Numerous customers are routinely denied accounts because of small mistakes, like minor overdraft fees that went unpaid.
Disputing Your ChexSystems Report
ChexSystems reports are usually accurate, but not always. It is possible that you will look at your report and you will see inaccurate information.
For example, you might see a complaint from a bank or credit union you have never used.
If you do find false information on your report, there are a couple of possible ways that it may have ended up there.
It is possible that someone simply made a mistake at some point. Administrative errors do happen.
But it is also possible that you are the victim of identity theft. Someone could have used your name, address, and other information to open an account or take some other action in your name.
Indeed, many customers whose identities have been compromised find out about it first from their ChexSystems reports.
What can you do if you find your report is inaccurate? If you do nothing, the information will remain on your file for five years.
Obviously that is way too long to simply wait around for the inaccurate information to be cleared, so you should take steps to get your ChexSystems file corrected. Find out how to dispute your ChexSystems report.
Remember, if you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you should also get in touch with the credit bureaus and take other appropriate steps to protect yourself from future fraud.
What Can You Do in the Meantime?
With luck, you may be able to get your ChexSystems record successfully cleared after filing a dispute. But it can take time, and it is noteasy to win a dispute.
For that reason, you should think about opening a bank account without ChexSystems right away.
Even though the vast majority of banks and credit unions use ChexSystems to make decisions about new customers, not all of them do.
Non-ChexSystems banks and second chance bank accounts are excellent options for customers who cannot open accounts at other institutions. These accounts include the same great banking features as regular accounts, and your ChexSystems record is not considered when you apply.
Opening an account now not only lets you get back to living your life, but also helps you start creating a positive track record again.
Ready to get back to banking now, and enjoy the convenience of online bill pay, a free debit card, and the other exciting features and benefits of a checking or savings account? See our recommended non-ChexSystems banks.