How to Tell If Identity Thieves Have Opened Bank Accounts in Your Name

How to Tell If Identity Thieves Have Opened Bank Accounts in Your Name
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One reason experts urge you to monitor your credit reports is so 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, perhaps with plans to bounce checks or overdraft the account at your expense?

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

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

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. To get your copy, you 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 it.

According to the CFPB, those companies are:

  • Certegy Check Services
  • ChexSystems
  • CrossCheck
  • 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. The check and bank screening companies start on page 21.

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.

Note that ChexSystems and Early Earning Services also maintain not just consumer reports but consumer scores based on your banking history. And you can request those for free once every 12 months as well.

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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