When opening a new bank account, you should be prepared to have your ChexSystems report analyzed.
ChexSystems is a consumer credit reporting agency that collects negative information about your past bank account history.
Typically, this means ChexSystems has the rundown on things like overdrafts or other bank account snafus that you’ve made over the years. If you’re wondering, how do I clear my ChexSystems report, there are steps you can take to clean up your record before you open your next bank account.
5 steps to clearing your ChexSystems report
1. Request a copy of your ChexSystem report
The first step in clearing your ChexSystems report is knowing what’s in it. You’re entitled to one free copy of your report every 12 months under federal law. You just need to submit your request online, by phone, by mail or by fax to ChexSystems. Once your request is received, you should receive your report within five business days.
After getting your report, review it to make sure that your personal and bank account information is correct. Specifically, check for the following:
- Make sure the name, address, social security number and driver’s license listed on the report is accurate.
- Who has accessed your ChexSystems information?
- What information has been reported, including fraud alerts and non-sufficient funds activity? For example, look for information on unpaid checks, returned checks and any fraud or security alerts.
This can give you a framework to figure out how to pay off any outstanding balances owed associated with returned checks or electronic payments.
2. Dispute mistakes or fraudulent activity on your report
Just like with your consumer credit reports, it’s possible that inaccurate or fraudulent information could be recorded on your ChexSystems report. These irregularities can work against you as you try to open a bank account, so it’s important to review your report carefully.
If you find something on your ChexSystems report that’s incorrect or that you believe is related to fraud, you have the right to dispute the information. There are two ways to go about requesting ChexSystems removal for errors.
- First, you can dispute errors directly with the company or organization that reported the information to ChexSystems. So, for example, if a store you shopped at once is claiming you bounced a check when you can prove that the check cleared, you can contact the store to dispute the error. This may be tricky, however, if the information that’s being reported is several years old.
- The other option is letting ChexSystems initiate disputes for you. If you’d rather go this route, you can submit your dispute online. ChexSystems can then take up to 30 days to determine whether there’s an inaccuracy or fraud on your report. Once the investigation is completed, you’ll receive a letter in the mail explaining the findings.
3. Pay off your balances
If there are outstanding balances listed on your ChexSystems report, paying them off can help clear your report.
To pay down your debt, first add up the total amount owed to determine if you can pay it off all at once. If you can’t do this, decide which debts to tackle first. For example, you might choose the smallest balance to the largest, which is the debt snowball method. Or, you could reverse things and go from largest balance to smallest. You could also rank the debts based on which ones cost the most in fees. That’s called the debt avalanche method.
From there, you can contact each company individually to arrange a payment plan. Alternatively, you could ask the company if they’d be willing to settle outstanding balances for less than what’s owed. Whether this tactic is successful depends on the firm, the amount owed and your overall bank account history.
4. Ask creditors to remove information from your ChexSystems report
If you’ve checked your report and disputed errors, there’s another step you can take. You can reach out to creditors directly to ask them to remove negative history from your ChexSystems report.
The catch here is that you’ll typically need to pay any outstanding balances in full or arrange a debt settlement agreement before creditors will agree to this.
If you’re requesting information to be removed, it’s best to do so in writing, either via email or snail mail. This way, you have a written record of what the creditor is agreeing to in case they attempt to re-enter negative information on your report after the ChexSystems removal.
5. Wait for items to fall off your report
One final option for cleaning up a ChexSystems report is simply letting time take its course. ChexSystems maintains information in your file for five years – unless the agency that reported it requests the removal. This applies even if you’ve paid all your outstanding balances in full; the accounts can stay on your file unless ChexSystems is required to remove it by law or policy.
So, if you have an item on your ChexSystems report that’s close to hitting the five-year mark, you could choose to do nothing and let it fall off on its own. This doesn’t require any extra effort on your part, although it’s a good idea to get a copy of your report after the five years has passed to make sure it’s been removed.
Non-ChexSystems checking accounts: An alternative to negative reports
Can I get a checking account with ChexSystems is a question you might have if you’ve had a negative bank account history in the past. The short answer is yes: You can get a bank account thanks to non-ChexSystems bank accounts.
These are banks that don’t participate in ChexSystems. They typically offer second chance checking, which is a type of non-ChexSystems checking account. You can open this type of bank account if you have a negative ChexSystems report, or if you’re underbanked and have limited or no bank account history at all.
Second chance bank accounts are a great way to get into the habit of using a checking account responsibly. Chime, for example, offers a second chance bank account with no credit check and no hidden fees. You can use this account to get paid via direct deposit up to two days early and grow your savings automatically.
If you’re ready to make a fresh start with managing your money, consider joining Chime today.