Thanks to companies like ChexSystems, we all have what we like to call "debit" reports. These reports track our banking behavior just as credit reports track credit behavior. The key difference between the two is that only negative banking activity, like a bounced check, goes onto a debit report. Meanwhile, credit reports track both positive and negative credit behavior. This is why your ability to dispute debit reports matters.
Credit reports track all of your good and bad borrowing behavior, giving lenders an accurate picture of your financial history. However, when only your bad banking behavior gets reported, that can sometimes stack the deck against you. Sure, you might have had a bounced check or two, but what about all of your good banking behavior?
A debit report can sink your bank account application and even cause your checks to bounce. This issue can also leave you stuck with paying high fees for everything from cashing checks to sending them. If an inaccurate report is causing any or all of this to happen to you, here's how you can dispute it.
1. Check your report(s).
Did you know that ChexSystems isn't the only agency that tracks your banking behavior? Early Warning Systems and TeleCheck also track your transactions.
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 report(s), you can determine whether they're accurate. Here's what to do if they're not.
2. Look for errors.
If you find an error in one of your reports, your next step is to find proof that it is, in fact, an error. If you have a printed copy of your report, circle the section that displays inaccurate data and start from there.
Your next step depends on the type of error in that report. For example, if the agency claims that a recent check bounced, you can prove otherwise with a printout of your bank statement. Alternatively, if you're being dinged for transactions that you never authorized, you may be a victim of identity theft.
3. Find a paper trail.
Find any paperwork that can prove the report wrong. This can be a handy step to take no matter the nature of your dispute. Since the agency with which you're disputing an item will conduct its own investigation, any proof that you provide can expedite the process.
If you are dealing with identity theft, you can read about what to do here.
4. File the dispute.
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 agency that reported the problem to begin with. If all three agencies find potential errors, you need to file a separate dispute with each of them. Remember that these companies are not affiliated with each other.
Here's where you can go to file a dispute with each one:
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: Here
- Fax: (402) 916-8180
- Mail: TeleCheck, P. O. Box 6806, Hagerstown, MD 21741-6806 (Use this form for a dispute. If you're reporting a forgery or identity theft, mail this form to the same address but write Attn: Forgery Dept instead.)
- Web: Here (if you're disputing a forged check or identity theft, use this link)
5. Include other considerations.
There are other items that you should include in your dispute if possible. Remember that if you're disputing more than one item with the same agency, you'll have to file separate disputes for each one. If you can, you should enclose:
- 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 information about the disputed transaction
- An explanation of why the information is inaccurate, including as many relevant details as possible
- Copies of documents that prove your case
7. Wait 30 days.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives consumer reporting agencies 30 days to investigate a dispute. If you've sent all of your relevant information and have confirmed its arrival, the next step is to sit back and wait for 30 days while the agency conducts its investigation.
The agency can add 45 days to its investigation if you find more paperwork that you'd like to add, or if it asks you to send more along.
Now that you know how to dispute your debit report, click here to find out what to do if you're unhappy with the outcome.