One reason experts urge you to monitor your credit reports is so that you can catch identity thieves who open fraudulent credit card accounts in your name.
But what if a crook opens a bank account in your name instead? Perhaps the thief has plans to bounce checks or overdraw the account at your expense.
That account likely would not appear on your credit reports. Instead, any black marks would show up on your checking account reports. So, if you don’t know to check those reports, you may not realize the fraudulent bank account exists until long after the damage is done.
Here’s what every consumer should know about checking account reports, including how to get a copy of yours for free.
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.
A checking account report, which reflects your check-writing and banking history, is another type of consumer report.
And just as a lender likely would pull your credit report when determining whether to lend you money, a bank could pull your checking account report when determining whether to let you open a new account.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (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.
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.
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. (Note: Until April 2022, you can get a free credit report as often as every week, access provided to help folks amid the coronavirus pandemic.) To get your copy, request it as we detail in “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”
Similarly, there are checking account reporting companies that collect information for your checking account reports. The nationwide checking account reporting companies must also give you a free copy of their reports every 12 months if you request one.
According to the CFPB, those companies are:
- Certegy Check Services
- Early Warning Services
- Global Payments Check Services
- TeleCheck Services
To find out how to request your checking account report from any of these companies, see the CFPB’s list of consumer reporting companies, which includes detailed contact information for each company.
Some of those companies allow you to request your report online — just follow the link in the CFPB’s list. In other cases, you must request it by phone or mail.