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Credit Report ? Look Out for Your Debit Report, Too

Most consumers are aware that there are companies that keep track of their personal financial transactions ? installment loans, mortgages, credit card accounts, bankruptcies and judgements. These items are assembled by the three main credit bureaus into a credit report, which is available upon request by lenders, employers and anyone else with whom a consumer might do business. The credit report tells these people, in a simple, summarized form, whether or not a consumer is worthy of more credit or another loan. What few people realize is that there is another firm that keeps track of the banking transactions by American consumers, and that information is available only to banks in the form of a debit report. You may not have heard of a debit report, but it can affect you in ways you may not even realize and can prevent you from opening a bank account.

The debit reports are compiled and maintained by a company called ChexSystems. ChexSystems maintains a database of banking transactions by consumers, and creates a "debit score" based on deposits, withdrawals, overdrafts, and whether or not an account has been forcibly closed. Generally speaking, you probably won't have an entry in ChexSystems' database unless you have a history of writing bad checks, overdrawing your account too much, or having your account closed by your bank. On the other hand, people sometimes have entries put in the database by error and don't find out about their entries in the database until their request to open a checking account is denied by their bank. Most banks now use this system, and while some provide a little latitude, most will refuse to do business with anyone who has a negative entry in the database.

The system was originally designed simply to keep track of people who wrote bad checks, but over the last three decades it has evolved into something much more elaborate. Consumers are entitled to receive a copy of their report from ChexSystems, but few people request one, as most people have never heard of the company or their product. The debit score for an individual is only available to banks.

Since few people can make do without a bank account these days, it's worthwhile to at least be aware of this system. We couldn't find a Website for ChexSystems, but they can be reached by phone at 800-428-9623. In addition, there are numerous third party Websites devoted to helping people who have had problems establishing bank accounts due to problems with their debit report. Just type "ChexSystems help" into your favorite search engine.

┬ęCopyright 2005 by Retro Marketing.

Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including End-Your-Debt.com, a site devoted to personal bankruptcy, debt consolidation and credit counseling, and HomeEquityHelp.com, a site devoted to information regarding mortgages and home equity loans.

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