How to Discover If Crooks Have Opened Bank Accounts in Your Name

A report you've probably never heard of can alert you to problems in your banking history. Here's what every consumer should know about it -- and how to get a free copy.

How to Discover If Crooks Have Opened Bank Accounts in Your Name Photo by fizkes / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve heard about the Equifax data breach, you should have checked your credit reports by now.

The hack of that credit reporting agency potentially could have put your personal information into the hands of thieves, allowing them to open different types financial accounts in your name.

Regularly checking credit reports helps keep them clean, which is the key to a strong credit score. Experts urge consumers to monitor credit reports so they can catch identity thieves who open fraudulent credit card accounts in a consumer’s name.

But what if a crook opens a bank account in your name, perhaps with plans to bounce checks or overdraft the account at your expense?

Unfortunately, that account likely will not appear on your credit reports. Instead, it will show up on your checking account reports.

What is a checking account report?

There are multiple types of consumer reports. Credit reports, which reflect your credit and loan-repayment history, are just one type.

Checking account reports, which reflect your check-writing and banking history, are another type of consumer report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, explains:

“Some banks and credit unions use checking account reports to help decide whether to offer consumers a checking account. Checking account reporting companies compile these reports using information from other banks and credit unions about consumers’ checking account and transaction history.”

Checking account reports contain negative information collected from banks and credit unions. For example, this information can include that a checking account was closed due to unpaid overdrafts or unpaid fees, the CFPB says.

For this reason, not all consumers have checking account reports. According to the CFPB, if no bank or credit union has ever reported negative activity associated with checking accounts in your name, you probably don’t have a checking account report.

More reason to pull your checking account reports

There are many reasons to get copies of your checking account reports.

Consumer advocate Karin Price Mueller, who writes the Bamboozled column for NJ.com, recently listed some reasons to do this, including so that you can:

  • Find out if you were a victim of the Wells Fargo scandal. This is especially important for folks who were Wells Fargo customers at the time that Wells Fargo employees were opening accounts in customers’ names without asking or informing those customers.
  • Look for bank accounts you’ve forgotten about. These could include accounts that were never closed after you moved or switched banks, for example. Those open accounts could cost you in fees or negative marks on your checking account report without you realizing it.

How to request copies of your checking account reports

Credit reporting agencies — such as Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — collect the information that goes into your credit reports. They also maintain your credit history.

Under federal law, every 12 months nationwide credit-reporting companies must provide you with a free copy of the credit report they have on you. To get your copy, you simply have to ask each company for it.

Similarly, there are checking account reporting companies that collect information for your checking account reports, and maintain your history. The nationwide checking account reporting companies must also give you a free copy of their reports every 12 months if you ask.

According to the CFPB, those companies are:

Check each of these companies’ websites to find out how to request your checking account reports.

Have you ever pulled your checking account report or score? Tell us what you thought of it by commenting below or on Facebook.

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