Thanks to companies like ChexSystems, we can all have what we like to call “debit” reports in addition to credit reports. These “debit” reports track how we manage our banking behavior, just as credit reports track our credit behavior. There is one key difference between debit reports and credit reports, however. That difference is that debit reports only report on negative banking activity, such as a bounced check. A credit report, on the other hand, reports both positive and negative behavior. That’s why the ability to dispute your ChexSystems report (and others) is so important.
Credit reporting includes information both good and bad on your borrowing behavior. Lenders, therefore, have a holistic viewpoint on how you can be perceived as a borrower. But when your banking behavior gets reported only when it’s bad, that can sometimes stack the deck against you. Sure, you might have had a bounced check or two, but what about all the things you did right with your bank accounts?
The result of having a “debit” report with ChexSystems and similar companies is that you can get turned down for bank accounts and might even have check transactions denied at the point of purchase. This potentially sets you up for paying high fees on everything from cashing checks to sending them and more. If you’ve encountered this as a result of inaccurate reporting on ChexSystems, here’s how you can dispute your report.
How to Dispute Your ChexSystems Reports (and Other “Debit” Reports)
First of all, it’s important to know that ChexSystems isn’t the only agency tracking your banking behavior. Early Warning Systems and TeleCheck also maintain reports on you when transactions go wrong, such as when a check is bounced.
You can request your ChexSystems Consumer Disclosure Report here, your Early Warning System Consumer Report here, and your TeleCheck Consumer File Report here. Once you’ve obtained your reports, you can get to work figuring out if they’re accurate. Here’s what to do if they’re not.
1. Find a Paper Trail of Proof
Once you’ve reviewed your ChexSystems, Early Warning System, and TeleCheck reports and found an error, the next step is to pull together some proof that it’s an error. If you have a printout of your report, go ahead and circle the section showing inaccurate data and start from there.
What you do next will depend on the type of error that occurred. If, for example, you’re being reported for a bounced check that actually did go through, a printout of your bank statement showing that successful transaction could sufficiently prove your case. On the other hand, if transactions show up that you never authorized, then you’ve potentially become a victim of identity theft.
Regardless of the nature of your dispute, include any paperwork you have that can prove what really happened. Since the agency with which you’re disputing an item will conduct their own investigation, any proof you can provide them up front can expedite the process.
If you’re dealing with identity theft, there are more steps for you to follow, which you can read about here.
2. Start a Dispute With the Appropriate Agency
The next step is to file a dispute, but make sure it’s with the right agency. If you’ve pulled reports from ChexSystems, Early Warning System, and TeleCheck, you should only file a dispute with the agencies showing an error. If all three happen to show errors, then you’ll need to file three separate disputes. Remember, these companies are not affiliated with each other.
Here’s where you can go to file a dispute with each one:
- Fax*: 602.659.2197
- Mail*: Chex Systems, Inc., Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN 55125
- Web: here
*If you submit your ChexSystems dispute by fax or mail, be sure to include this form.
Early Warning System
- Fax: 480-656-6850
- Mail: Early Warning, Attn: Consumer Services, 16552 N. 90th Street, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
- Phone: 1-800-325-7775 (Colorado residents only)
- Web: https://consumerservices.earlywarning.com
- Fax: (402) 916-8180
- Mail*: TeleCheck, P. O. Box 6806, Hagerstown, MD 21741-6806 (If you’re reporting a forgery or identity theft, mail to the same address but include this: Attn: Forgery Dept.)
- Web*: https://getassistance.telecheck.com/information-dispute.html (if you’re disputing a forged check or identity theft, use this link: https://getassistance.telecheck.com/forgery-or-identity-theft.html)
As for other things you should include in the dispute, most of the paperwork and online forms spell them out. But for a quick reminder, it’s advised that you include the following:
- Your full name and social security number
- Your current mailing address
- Your consumer ID number (this should be listed on your “debit” report)
- Account numbers and any other specific information you can include regarding the transaction in dispute
- An explanation of why the information is inaccurate, including as many relevant details as possible
- Copies of documents that prove your case
- If you’re disputing more than one item with the same consumer reporting agency, you need to file separate disputes for each item
3. Wait 30 Days
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) generally gives consumer reporting agencies such as these 30 days to investigate disputes. If you’ve already sent all the information necessary and have confirmation of that, the next step is to sit back and wait for the full 30 days while the agency fulfills the investigation.
If the agency asks you for more paperwork, or if you discover more paperwork that you want to add to the investigation, the agency gets an additional 45 days to complete the investigation.
What To Do If You’re Not Happy With the Result of the Dispute
There is always the possibility that your ChexSystems, Early Warning System, or TeleCheck dispute doesn’t yield the result you wanted. If you know that the item in dispute is inaccurate, you can still add a consumer statement to your report. That statement, which should describe your dispute in 100 words or less, will then be included in your consumer report.
You can use this form to request to add a personal statement to your ChexSystems report, and you can click here to find Early Warning System’s tips on filing a “rebuttal statement,” as they call it. TeleCheck doesn’t currently list on their website a procedure for filing a statement after a dispute.
Besides a personal statement, if you feel that the consumer reporting agency didn’t follow due process in your dispute, you can file a complaint. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission are both places you can file a complaint, and you can even reach out to your state Attorney General.
And if you are concerned that it is the bank that is failing to fix inaccurate information on their end, you can submit a complaint about them to the same places listed above. The CFPB lists a few other ways you can file complaints against a bank or credit union reporting inaccurate information:
The thing to remember here is that agencies such as ChexSystems are bound to follow the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies.” Therefore, if you have sufficient proof that there is an error on your consumer files, then the agencies responsible must follow the requirements of the FCRA and rectify that.
And, while you’re at it, the same goes for your credit report. Once you’re finished verifying the accuracy of your “debit” reports, go ahead and check your credit reports for errors as well to be sure that all financial information being reported on you is fair and accurate.
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