Saturday, January 19, 2008
One Simple Letter Can Get You Off the Chex Systems List
Fix Your Report, and Get Back to Banking! Stuck on Chex Systems list? Can t get a bank account? You are not alone. There are millions of Americans in the same situation as you. Most people just assume that they are stuck on the list, and can t do anything to get off the list. Nothing could be further from the truth! With a few minutes of work, you can get off the list (or at least clean your report up so that you can open a new bank account!). The key to this technique is to rely on some rules in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA ) -- the U.S. law that governs how credit reporting agencies (like Chex Systems) are supposed to act. The FCRA allows you to dispute all incomplete or inaccurate information in your consumer report. You dispute the report by sending a letter detailing the errors. The FCRA requires that ChexSystems reinvestigate the errors that you point out to them! This is very powerful. In fact, the FCRA requires that credit reporting agencies look into the errors within 30 days (or 45 days if you send additional info during the 30 day period) from receipt of your letter. Here s the most powerful part of it-if Chex Systems can t verify the information you are disputing, they must remove it from your record! First, however, you need to get a copy of your report. You can order it online or by calling (800)428-9623. It will take a few days to get your report. You may want to bookmark this article so you can return once you have your copy. Once you have your copy, spend some time reviewing it. Your report will include the following sections: your name and consumer identifier , one or more items of Reported Information (this is the bad stuff that is being reported about your banking history!), one or more Inquiries Initiated by Consumer Action (these are things you have allegedly done that caused someone to pull your Consumer Report), one or more Inquiries Not Initiated By Consumer Action (these are reports pulled by others about you without your direct permission), one or more Retail Information items (from other checkwriting databases such as SCAN), one ore more History of Checks Ordered , and then personal information about you, including your Social Security Number, and Drivers License. Go over each of these items in detail! Look for any errors or inaccuracies. If you find any errors or inaccuracies, think about how you can prove that the items are wrong. You should especially focus on the items in the section called Reported Information . If there are reports of debts you owe to banks that you know you have paid, gather your proof (do you have a receipt for paying the debt?, etc.). Collect all this information. Now, lets get busy and go on the attack! It s time to get your report corrected. You may need to write two or three letters, but the first letter is the most important. In the first letter, you will write to Chex Systems and point out all of the errors or mistakes in your report, and ask them to reinvestigate those items and correct your report. Remember, the FCRA requires that credit reporting agencies take action within 30 days to reinvestigate the items you point out to them, so make sure to be clear and detailed in your letter. To help you out, we have prepared several letters for you to use. The first one, linked below, is a template you can use. Make sure to download the template (you can open it in Microsoft Word or as text file ), and replace all of the words in brackets [ or ] and italics with your own information and details. Also, remove the heading and note at the bottom of the page. Then, print the letter, sign it, and send it by fax or certified mail (return receipt requested!) to Chex Systems. Make sure to keep a copy for your records! Chex Systems Dispute Letter Once you have mailed the letter, you may get contacted by Chex Systems for more information. Make sure to remember when you sent the letter, and put a note on your calendar to follow up with them if you don t hear back from them in 30 days or so. Check back at our Chex Systems resources website in a few weeks, and we will post some further sample letters that you can use to follow up with Chex Systems. In 30 days or so, you may be off the Chex Systems list, or at least have a cleaned up report that will allow you to open a new bank account! The second letter shown below is an example of how a final letter might look. This might help give you some ideas on how your letter should look. ChexSystems Dispute Letter Example So, if you are stuck in Chex Systems limbo and can t open a bank account, it is worth it for you to dispute any errors. It doesn t cost you anything, and if you succeed, you may end up with a completely clean record. Remember, it only takes a few minutes for you to do this. The benefits can be huge-imagine getting your name completely off the Chex Systems list! Kurt Lehman writes about banking, checking, credit card, and debt issues and ChexSystems issues.