Banking report errors may harm you

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Dear Dr. Don,
I had a checking account in 1998. I had some problems and two checks were returned unpaid. This problem has never been resolved. How long does that stay on my history? It isn’t on my credit report. Can I go to a bank and be put on my spouse’s checking account?
— Barbara Bounced

Dear Barbara,
You have a consumer report on your banking relationships that is a lot like your credit report for your credit relationships. However, it’s a separate report. The main provider of a consumer banking report is ChexSystems.

One difference between the consumer banking and credit reports is that negative information stays on your banking report for five years rather than the seven years that negative information stays on your credit report.

Since the black marks on your checking account are over a decade old, they shouldn’t still be reported on your consumer banking report. You can check by requesting a copy of this report.

Just like the credit reports, the banking consumer reporting agencies have to provide you with a free annual copy of your banking report. Go to the Consumer Debit Resource site and click through on the FACTA Free Annual Report tab to request your ChexSystems report.

You can correct errors in this report through a dispute process exactly like the one set up for credit reports — that’s because both report providers have to meet the dispute requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Bankrate feature “Fixing mistakes on your credit report” explains how to correct errors on your report.

A bad ChexSystems report can make it hard to open a new account. But a decade after your last bounced check, you shouldn’t have to resort to having a joint account to have a banking relationship.