Consumers Reporter: Tracking Your Banking History

Don't waste your money

WXYZ - You've heard of credit reporting agencies, but did you know there are companies tracking your banking history, and any money mistakes you make?

We're talking about your consumer report, and most banks look at it before allowing you to open a checking or savings account.

If you record isn't good, you could end up literally "blacklisted by banks." 

Natasha Carmon drives to each business, goes inside, and settles up with cash, or purchases a money order.

"It's definitely frustrating," Carmon said.

She'd rather pay by check, but each time Natasha has tried to open checking accounts at different banks she says she got the same surprising news.

"They all denied me and they all said that it's because you owe this bank X amount of dollars," Carmon said.

She says four years ago she got hit with a bank fee...and when she couldn't pay, the charges piled up and her account was closed.

"The fees just got so extreme that I couldn't keep up," Carmon said.

Unpaid fees and involuntary account closures are just some money mistakes banks and credit unions may reporter to two different tracking companies, "Chex Systems" and "Early Warnings."

These consumer reporting agencies receive information about people who have had financial mishaps or even fraudulently bounceded checks.

And before they approve a new account, many banks check your past records.

Nessa Feddis of the American Bankers Association said, "it's a good indication of whether the person can manage the account and whether- what risk they present of causing the bank to lose money."

Potentially millions of Americans are "blacklisted from banks," and consumer advocates worry financial institutions could be shutting out some people whose record was dinged by accident.

Ed Mierzwinksi of USPIRG said, "there could have been an automatic payment that the consumer had canceled but the company, by mistake continued to try to take out of their account, and that is happening more and more often today."

Federal law says you can request a free banking history report each year-- and dispute any incorrect information. 

Here's a link where you can order a report to see what information is on your consumer file:

"I don't like it but until I can find a bank who is willing to give me a banking, a checking account, then that's the option that I have."

The Early Warning website supports consumers rights to dispute and correct inaccurate or incomplete information.

The American Bankers Association says banks don't report you if you overdraw your account but take care of it.

When you don't pay the overdraft free though-- that could cause you to have trouble getting accounts in the future. 

Some banks offer alternative "cash only pre paid card" accounts for people who can't get traditional accounts.

The Consumers Financial Protections Bureau regulates these reporting practices.


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