Being turned down for a bank account might mean you have a ChexSystems record. But you can take action now to get back into the banking system.
ChexSystems provides information to banks and credit unions about checking or savings accounts that have been closed because of mishandling. The reasons vary but can include unpaid overdraft or nonsufficient-funds fees, account fraud and identity theft. Banks screen applicants for new accounts and might deny anyone who has a bad banking history.
» Learn the basics about ChexSystems
If you’re having a hard time opening an account because of ChexSystems, follow these five steps to remove your record.
1. Request your report
Get your ChexSystems report to determine why a bank didn’t approve your application. The report shows a breakdown of specific accounts closed, outstanding debts, bounced checks and more. You’re eligible for a free copy of your report once every 12 months.
Request your record in one of these ways:
- Call ChexSystems at 800-428-9623. (This is an automated voice messaging system.)
- Visit the website, go to the Request Reports section and fill out the consumer disclosure form. Submit it online or print it out and mail it to Chex Systems Inc., Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN, 55125.
2. Dispute errors
If you find information that you believe is wrong, gather supporting documents, such as payment records or bank statements. Then go to the Dispute Information section of the ChexSystems website and choose how you’ll submit your dispute:
- Online: At the link above, click on that webpage where it says “submit your dispute now.” You’ll be taken to a form to fill out and an area where you can upload files that support your claim. Once you’re ready, hit “submit” at the bottom of that page.
- Via mail or fax: Starting at the same link above, click at the phrase “read more about other methods of submitting a dispute.” From there, you’ll see the ChexSystems request form to print out. Then fill in the necessary information and include copies of any supporting documents — not originals. Send these files to the address listed above, or fax them to 602-659-2197.
- By phone: If you’ve already received a copy of your ChexSystems report, you can speak to a representative at 800-513-7125. This is helpful if you don’t have any supporting documents. You can’t make disputes involving fraud or identity theft by phone.
The next part is up to you. You can let ChexSystems contact the bank or credit union that reported false information on your behalf or mail a dispute to the financial institution yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, use this sample letter to get started.
ChexSystems and your financial institution must research the dispute within 30 days. If they confirm that information is wrong or incomplete, they’re bound by federal law to correct it. If you’re not satisfied, you can add a brief statement to your report explaining the problem.
3. Pay off debts
If your report is accurate and you owe money, pay it. If your budget is tight, ask your creditors if they’d be willing to settle for less than the debt amount.
If your report is accurate and you owe money, pay it if you can.
“I was able to negotiate a payoff with one collection agency for a little less than the total amount owed,” says Steven Hughes, an entrepreneur in Columbia, South Carolina. He had racked up nonsufficient-funds fees in his checking account, which ended up getting closed.
4. Ask creditors to remove information
Once you’ve paid your debts, ask the collection agency or other creditor to update your file on ChexSystems. Get payoff information in writing and keep track of receipts or other documents that show you’ve paid the debt.
In Hughes’ case, once he paid the agreed-upon amount, he received a receipt for payment and sent it to ChexSystems. “The next report I pulled showed that the debt had been cleared,” he says.
5. Wait until the record drops off the database
If all else fails, wait until blemishes fall off your record. Reported information usually is removed from your ChexSystems file after five years.
Until then, you might be able to open a second-chance checking account. These accounts are designed for people with bad credit or banking histories. Although they generally have monthly fees you can’t avoid, they can help rebuild your financial history and make you eligible for a standard bank account, usually within a year.
» Interested in rebuilding your banking life? Find a bank for you among our list of second-chance checking accounts
A ChexSystems record usually is removed from your file after five years, so one option is simply waiting until blemishes fall off your record.
If you’d rather not deal with a bank account right now, you could choose a prepaid debit card. These spending cards have some banking features such as direct deposits and multiple loading methods including cash loads and check deposits.
Updated Nov. 22, 2017.