Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at November 13th, 2018
Are you in ChexSystems jail, even if you don’t know anything about that? This little-known consumer reporting agency might be what’s standing between you and a sweet financial nirvana.
Have you ever been turned down for a loan? It’s entirely possible that a company you have never heard of was responsible. And that is ChexSystems. It’s like being stuck in ChexSystems jail. But what or who is ChexSystems?
According to their website, they are, “a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). ChexSystems’ clients regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts.”
They add, “ChexSystems provides services to financial institutions and other types of companies that have a permissible purpose under the FCRA. ChexSystems’ services primarily assist its clients in assessing the risk of opening new accounts.”
They also say,
But what is ChexSystems used for? Some banks and other credit issuers will use it when they are looking for more information on your credit habits. They are also reporting on insufficient funds, closed accounts, and overdrafts.
But many people have no idea ChexSystems even exists. That is, until they’re turned down for a loan or cannot open an account. And then they’re in ChexSystems jail and they might not even realize it.
The first step to any dispute is looking over your report. You can also get a free annual report due to FACTA, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act’s amendments to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Go to this link. Verify that you are over 18. If you are not, then you’ll need to use another method to ask for your report. ChexSystems will not let a minor ask for their report online.
If you are an adult and can properly request your report online, fill out certain information. Input your date of birth, address, and Social Security number. This is a free report which be sent to you in paper mail in about five business days, on average.
You can make a FACTA request via paper mail or fax. You can also use their voice messaging system, at 800.428.9623.
You will need to fill out the following information in your online FACTA form:
More necessary information includes any name you were known by in the past, and any past addresses if you have not been at your current address for at least five years.
ChexSystems allows you to submit a request on behalf of someone (who is not a minor) other than yourself. But you will need to submit the request by mail or fax. In addition, you must include the following documentation authorizing ChexSystems to communicate with and give that information to you:
ChexSystems uses a different scoring algorithm than TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Their numbers run from 100 to 899. A higher score means a lower risk.
Go to this link to ask for your score. You will need to either paper mail or fax your request. You should get a response within 15 business days.
The company keeps track of check fraud. They also record insufficient funds and overdrafts.
When you privately sell a car or a home, you want the buyer to pay you. Or at least you want them to get a loan to pay you, from a reputable lender.
ChexSystems lets credit issuers know when a borrower has a history of poor accounts management.
If a private buyer does not get funding from a reputable lender, then that’s a cue to you that they may not be a good risk.
Just like the big credit reporting agencies, ChexSystems offers security alerts and freezes. If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, then a ChexSystems alert and freeze may save you money in the long run.
This is particularly important in the wake of the 2017 Equifax security breach.
You can put on a seven-year security alert by going to this link. This requires the use of a paper affidavit. And it must be notarized. You can often find a notary public at a bank or a lawyer’s office. There may even be one at your local post office.
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft, then it would not hurt to add a ChexSystems alert.
You can place a credit freeze by going to this link. Verify that you’re over 18. If not, then an adult will have to request your report. Input your date of birth, Social Security number, and address.
There may be delays as there have been more requests for freezes due to the 2017 Equifax data breach. You will get a PIN number. Lift a freeze by going to this link. You wil need to use your PIN.
You have the right to dispute any errors, inaccuracies, or incomplete data. But you are going to need documentation for this. And you will also need to keep details organized. If your dispute has to do with more than one item, then that has to be clear.
Go to this link. The video only takes a few minutes to watch. But it does not seem to be in any language other than English. Some of the video is blurry. But that is not you; it’s them.
There are a few ways to dispute:
ChexSystems then contacts the furnisher of the allegedly incorrect information in five business days. The furnisher then investigates.
The investigation is done in 30 days or 21 days for residents of Maine. Then ChexSystems will take some form of action. So this is either to amend or delete information, or to maintain the status quo.
To dispute online, go to this link. Verify that you are over 18. If not, you will need an adult to request your report. Minors are not allowed to dispute via the internet. Input your date of birth, Social Security number, and address.
Enter the information they are looking for, including your ChexSystems ID. If there is one, it will be on your report. You can dispute multiple items. But you will need to enter these in separate fields. You can then add documentation via upload.
Investigations can take up to 30 calendar days. If you add information during the investigation, that can add 15 more days to the process.
Hence it pays to provide all information up front. This includes getting your report before you start.
Dispute by mail by writing to:
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Dispute correspondence must include:
You can dispute by phone by calling the Consumer Relations department at 800.513.7125. Select the option to speak with a representative. You must have your report in hand when you call. You can dispute by fax by faxing to 602.659.2197.
There are some main categories of information you can dispute, in an effort to get out of ChexSystems jail. These include personal information, reported information, and retail information. They also include inquiries initiated by consumer action and Social Security validation.
Additional categories are Certegy check cashing and inquiries not initiated by consumer action. Still more categories are history of checks ordered and driver’s license validation. Catch-all categories are additional information and unknown.
ChexSystems works with banks and lenders. They report on account management and mismanagement, like NSFs and overdrafts. Anyone can dispute online or by phone, paper mail, or fax. Provide written documentation and be clear about what you’re disputing.
It pays to provide all documentation and support at the start. Investigations can take a month to a month and a half so be patient when trying to get out of ChexSystems jail.