Checking on You

Sonja Haggert

WE’VE ALL HEARD of the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, which compile our all-important credit reports. But have you heard of ChexSystems?

ChexSystems generates reports on bank customers, typically using banking history from the past five years to assess the risk that customers pose to their banks. Those risks are reflected in blemishes on a consumer’s banking history, such as overdrafts and unpaid fees. In some instances, ChexSystems warns banks about potential fraud. Never heard of ChexSystems? It’s probably because you don’t have a history of overdrafts or unpaid fees on your checking account.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably always assumed that getting a checking account was a simple matter of going to the bank and filling out an application. After all, you’re giving the bank your money. Why would the bank refuse it?

But it might.

Perhaps an unpleasant divorce led to negative account balances or involuntary closure of an account. Perhaps you owned a joint account with someone who wasn’t as careful. Perhaps you were hit with identity theft. Perhaps you made an honest mistake.

Did these affect your banking score? ChexSystems’ website is amazingly user-friendly. By completing a form on its site, you can get a report online or through the mail. You can also request a copy of your ChexSystems’ consumer score. There’s even a tab with resources should you suspect identity theft, including how to place a security alert or security freeze on your consumer report.

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