ORLANDO, Fla. - You probably know your credit rating, but did you know your bank is keeping score too?
It's called your "consumer report," and most banks look at it before allowing you to open a checking or savings account.
Bounce a check, can't pay a bank fee, simple money mistakes like those could get you blacklisted by banks.
Natasha Carmon is an author and entrepreneur so you'd think she'd have little trouble with banking.
But she has to pay her bills by driving from business to business paying with cash or money order.
"It's definitely frustrating," said Carmon.
She'd rather mail a check or pay online, but each time she's tried to open a bank account, she gets the same surprising news.
"They all denied me and they all said that it's because you owe this bank x amount of dollars," said Carmon.
That mistake happened four years ago. It was a bank fee she couldn't pay. The charges piled up and her account was closed.
"The fees just got so extreme that I couldn't keep that up," she explained.
Unpaid fees and involuntary account closures are just a few of the money mistakes banks and credit unions report to tracking companies.
Companies like ChexSystems and Early Warning watch for the money mishaps and bounced checks and calculate a score.
"It's a good indication of whether the person can manage the account and whether what risk they present of causing the bank to lose money," explains Nessa Feddis of the American Bankers Association.
A recent FDIC survey reveals 65 percent of banks deny checking account applicants, meaning there are potentially millions of Americans that are blacklisted from banks.
Consumer advocates said they're more concerned nowadays especially with online banking and automatic debits.
"There could have been an automatic payment that the consumer had cancelled but the company, by mistake, continued to try to take out of their account," said Ed Mierzwinski with USPIRG, the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups.
As for Carmon, she said she's going to have to keep hitting the road to pay her bills, at least for now.
"I don't like it but until I can find a bank that is willing to give me a banking, a checking account, then that's the options that I have," she said.
Just like your free credit check federal law allows you to get a free banking history report each year and dispute any incorrect information.
In a statement, the tracking company ChexSystems said, "Consumers with questions regarding their ChexSystems evaluation can request a detailed report that explains what information is listed in their file. Once every 12 months, each consumer is entitled to a free copy of their consumer report that may be ordered by phone, mail, fax or the ChexSystems website. A consumer may dispute any information in their file and ChexSystems will facilitate the resolution of the dispute on the consumer's behalf. Our statistics show that consumer disputes only account for approximately one-tenth of one percent of all consumer reports. ChexSystems is committed to resolving all such disputes as quickly as possible and, on average, resolves consumer disputes in less than half the time required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)."
Early Warning declined Local 6's request for comment.
Click here to check your banking consumer score.
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