For all of us, a checking account is one of the most fundamental necessities. We use checks to pay for utility bills and even tuition fees. Most of us have had checking accounts as early as high school. If you’re like most people, you might have taken your checking account for granted. But what if there comes a time when you cannot open a checking account in a bank? What if for some unknown reason, you get blacklisted from opening accounts with banks and other financial institutions.
This unimaginable occurrence can happen to anyone, and here’s how. First, your bank closes your account without warning. Then, when you try to open an account with another bank, you get informed that you are banned from opening a checking account and you can try somewhere else.
These unfortunate events could happen if you get listed on Chexsystems. Chexsystems is a consumer credit reporting service that financial institutions use to check the credit and banking history of new applicants. There is a list of people who have had overdraft issues in other banks. If you’ve bounced a check, overdrafted your account a few times, and avoided paying your debt, you may be on the list.
Any form of suspicious activity could put you on the list. The bad news is that being listed on the ChexSystems can prevent you from starting anew with a new bank. The worst part is that you could be on the list for five years unless you do something.
Most major banks and credit unions check Chexsystems lists when reviewing new accounts. This has become a standard procedure in most banks and this could be the main reason why you can no longer freely open an account on a bank of your choice.
If you find yourself listed on ChexSystem, the first thing you have to do is to make sure that you don’t have an outstanding balance at your former bank or banks. Settle all debts as soon as possible. After you’ve cleared all the bad, ask your bank to issue a certification of good standing. You will need this letter when you dispute your Chexsystems listing.
Order your consumer report, or get hold of a list from Chexsystems to verify the issues with your account. If your debt is clear, the next step is to contact ChexSystem by mail. In your letter, inform them that your debt is satisfied, attach a copy of bank’s certification of good standing. After 30 days, you should be able to get an update from ChexSystems.
You can write to ChexSystem at: Chex Systems, Inc. Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100 Woodbury, MN 55125
Sometimes, the problem is too serious that a simple process like the one described above cannot solve it. For example, someone has been using your credit account to purchase items; identity theft issues, etc. Clearing your name from the list may require more effort on your part.
The first thing you need to do is to find a bank that offers “second chance checking accounts”. These accounts charge higher, but they can provide you with a semblance of a checking account that you can use to pay for emergencies like utility bills. With a second chance checking account, you will need to pay a maintenance fee. Some banks may even compel you to attend seminars in bank account management.
Some banks also offer accounts that are not like the checking accounts offered by traditional banks. You will be provided with a debit card. These can be considered temporary accounts because you can only deposit money using direct deposit. What if your customer or employer gives you a check? The only way you can encash a check is if you open a true account with your bank.