Bank Account Application Denied? What It Means to Be 'Blacklisted' and What to Do

By Kim Franke-Folstad · May 20, 2024 · 10 minute read

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Bank Account Application Denied? What It Means to Be 'Blacklisted' and What to Do

It may seem as if having a bank account is a given in life, but actually, it’s not: Some people get rejected and have to work hard (really hard) to attain that privilege. There’s a situation called being blacklisted by banks, and it’s a tough one to overcome.

Granted, for many, having enough money for a deposit and valid ID gives you all you need to open a bank account.

But if you’ve had problems with a bank account before and your screening report reveals those issues, you could be denied. But all is not lost: Take a deep breath and read on.

Key Points

•   Being blacklisted by banks often results from negative banking histories reported by ChexSystems, affecting account opening.

•   ChexSystems operates like credit bureaus but focuses on banking behaviors, not credit management.

•   A low ChexSystems score can lead to account application rejections, but the score threshold varies by bank.

•   Disputing inaccuracies in a ChexSystems report or settling outstanding debts can help restore banking privileges.

•   Alternative banking options include “second chance” accounts and banks that do not use ChexSystems, offering paths to reestablish banking services.

What Does It Mean to Be on the ChexSystems Blacklist?

Unless you’ve had trouble opening a bank account, it’s possible you’ve never even heard of ChexSystems. Think of ChexSystems as being akin to the credit reporting agencies that determine your all-important FICO credit score. Except instead of keeping track of how well you manage debt the way Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion do, ChexSystems records how well you manage your banking life.

Do you have a history of bouncing checks, overdrawing your account, failing to pay bank fees, suspicious activity, or have had your account closed by a financial institution? If so, it’s likely ChexSystems knows about and is keeping track of those negative activities. Approximately 80% of banks use these agencies’ screening reports when deciding whether to approve a consumer’s application to open a checking or savings account.

Along with your report, banks also may use your ChexSystems Consumer Score to assess your potential risk as a new or returning customer. A score can range from 100 to 899 — and a higher score signifies lower risk.

There’s no official point or score at which consumers are automatically “blacklisted” by ChexSystems or the banks that use its services. Each financial institution determines independently how much risk is acceptable when deciding to open a new account for a client. But if your score is in the lower range, you should be aware that your application could be refused. The reason why: You don’t appear to be someone who will use your bank accounts responsibly.

If you’re planning to open an account and you’re wondering what your current ChexSystems Consumer Score is, you can request it at the ChexSystems website. You’re able to get one free report per year.

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What to Do If You Are Blacklisted

So let’s say you’ve applied for a bank account and got rejected. That can be an upsetting feeling. After all, bank accounts — especially checking accounts — are the hub of most people’s financial lives. Paychecks are deposited there, and bills and other debts are paid out of that same account. You may wonder how you will ever get a bank account after being blacklisted.

We have good news: If a financial institution denies your request to open an account, there are a few things you may be able to do to improve your standing. Here are four steps to take.

1. Request a Consumer Disclosure Report

The bank or credit union that declined to open an account for you should inform you which reporting agency (ChexSystems or another) generated the report it used when considering your application. You can then contact that agency by phone, mail, or online to request a free copy of the report. You’ll then take a look at exactly what’s on your record.

2. Report Any Discrepancies

Once you receive a copy of your file, you should be able to see which banks or credit unions provided negative information about you to the reporting agency. If the report doesn’t match up to your experiences, there may have been an error, or the problem could be connected to identity theft. Either way, it’s a good idea to check your own records for any discrepancies and prepare to address what you may uncover.

3. Dispute Any Errors Found

Consumer reporting agencies must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. That means they are required to ensure the information they provide is as accurate as possible. What’s more, by law, they can’t include certain types of negative information that’s more than seven years old. (ChexSystems typically keeps negative information on a report for five years.)

If you feel your banking report has errors, is incomplete, or that some negative information is out of date, your next move may be to file a dispute. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides sample letters for contacting both the financial institution that supplied the incorrect data and the agency that included it in its report. Or, you can file your dispute on the ChexSystems website.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, ChexSystems must verify the negative information within 30 days or delete it from your ChexSystems report.

You also may want to get an updated credit report from one or all three of the major credit bureaus to see if there are similar problems there. You can request those reports for free at annualcreditreport.com. If you find anything amiss, you can dispute those credit report errors.

To be clear, your ChexSystems score is not the same as the FICO credit score lenders look at when you apply for a credit card or loan. And the banking reports ChexSystems provide do not include the same information as credit reports. But if there’s inaccurate information in a report about your checking account activity, there may be similar issues with your credit reports — especially if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. If you can catch discrepancies early, you may be able to head off future questions about your creditworthiness.

4. Pay Off Outstanding Debts and Fees

Of course, there is the possibility that the black marks on your report are valid. Maybe you bailed on an account that was overdrawn or had another negative situation. If information on your report was accurate, you still may be able to improve your chances of opening an account. You will probably want to show that you are trying to rectify past problems.

Check with the bank that declined your recent application for an account. A banker there may have some suggestions. It could help, for example, if you can pay off any old fees you still owe to ChexSystems’ member institutions. Once those past bad debts are taken care of, you can ask the bank or credit union that provided the negative information to update that item on your ChexSystems report.

You still may have to wait five years for the negative information to be completely removed from your report. But ultimately, it’s up to each individual bank — not ChexSystems — to decide if a customer’s application will be approved or denied. If the bank sees you’re making an effort to right old wrongs, it may reconsider your application. That’s why connecting with a banker to explain what steps you’re taking can be a move in the right direction.

How to Avoid Being Blacklisted by ChexSystems

Obviously, the best way to avoid getting a low ChexSystems Consumer Score or a negative report is to avoid the activities that could make you a riskier bank customer. If you want to be a good checking and savings account customer, avoid such things as:

•   Bouncing checks or running up too many overdraft fees

•   Having an account closed involuntarily

•   Committing ATM or debit card abuse

•   Being suspected of fraud or illegal activity

•   Opening and closing multiple accounts in a short period of time

But there are other steps you can take to further secure your finances and your financial reputation. Consider these options as well to boost your standing as a banking customer. They can help you avoid being blacklisted.

Monitor Your Financial Health

If there’s information on a ChexSystems report that you weren’t aware of, you may have been the victim of identity theft. Reviewing your accounts regularly could help you clear up problems faster. Even if you don’t have this kind of fraudulent activity on your record, it’s still a good idea to stay on top of your financial profile. Here are some key steps.

•   It’s a good idea to periodically request and scrutinize your free ChexSystems report.

•   You’ll also want to get free copies of your three major credit reports from annualcreditreport.com at least annually. Again, your goal is to make sure that everything is up-to-date and accurate and that there isn’t any fraud or identity theft occurring.

•   It’s also a good idea to regularly check your bank account and credit card statements to make sure there aren’t any transactions you aren’t aware of. Many financial institutions offer online tools and mobile apps that can make tracking your accounts easy and convenient.

•   You may want to set up a low balance alert for your checking account. That way, you’ll get a text or email when your balance reaches a certain threshold, and you’ll know to stop using the account until you make a deposit. That can help avoid overdrawing your account and bouncing checks and/or triggering fees. You also might consider setting up bank alerts for unusual activity, overdrafts, and new log-ins.

Find an Alternative to a Traditional Banking Account

If you’ve been rejected and are worried that you might be unable to open a bank account, don’t give up hope. If your ChexSystems report seems to be blocking you from getting an account, you may have other options.

•   Some banks and credit unions offer what are called “second chance” checking accounts. These typically offer fewer features and higher fees than regular bank accounts to customers who have been blocked by a ChexSystems report or score.

•   There are also some banks and credit unions that don’t use ChexSystems when making decisions on account applications. You might be able to enjoy the same benefits as other account holders, with low or no fees, if you choose to do business with one of those financial institutions. A little online research should show you which banks don’t depend upon ChexSystems.

By investing a bit of time and energy, you should be able to find an account that suits your needs even if you have been blacklisted.

The Takeaway

If a bank denied your application for a new checking or savings account, it could be that you were blacklisted due to negative information on your ChexSystems report.

You still have options, though. If the information on your report is wrong or more than seven years old, you can dispute the negative information and have your report corrected. And if it turns out the negative information is true, you can take steps to remedy the situation and possibly open an account elsewhere. The convenience of a bank account may well be within reach.

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FAQ

Can I open a bank account if I’m blacklisted?

You may have a few options if you’ve been blocked from opening an account. You could try to fix your old problems, and ask the bank to reconsider. You could sign up for a “second chance” account that’s geared to people with a negative banking history. Or, you could look for a bank that doesn’t base its decisions about customer accounts on ChexSystems reports.

How long are you blacklisted from banks?

Every bank has its own policies when it comes to deciding a customer’s account eligibility. But if you have negative items on a ChexSystems report that could cause a bank to decline your account application, you can expect that information to stay on your report for up to five years.

What does it mean when your bank account is blacklisted?

If someone tells you that you have a blacklisted bank account, it generally means you have enough negative information on your ChexSystems report — or a low enough ChexSystems score — that the bank sees you as a risk. They therefore decline to offer you an account.


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