Online reputation monitoring: the other credit reporting agencies you have to worry about

By now, thanks to blanket TV commercials,  everybody is well aware of FICO scores and the three major major outfits that generate them: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.   However, another group of companies can also generate a hit to your reputation with the banking and credit industries: the check reporting companies that track bad checks and other types of account fraud reported by banks. Negative information here can get your turned down when trying to open a bank account or just get a check accepted.   The major ones are ChexSystems, Shared Check Authorization Network, or SCAN, and TeleCheck.

Fortunately, The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACT Act,  covers all national credit and consumer reporting bureaus, including these check reporting bureaus.  Just as with the credit bureaus, you’re allowed one free report  year from the check reporting bureaus.

Should you find negative information that’s accurate you’re out of luck until a certain number of years elapse and the information is dropped, or you can persuade the reporting institution to request it be dropped.  Good luck with the latter.   However, if the negative information is false you do have the same rights as with the credit bureaus.   The best course of action is this: Send your dispute by certified mail, with  return receipt requested. Why certified mail? It frustrates the bureaucrats by compelling a specific person to take action. It also gives you the documentation you may need later to make sure the bureaus follow the FACT ACT rules.

Once your claim is received by a bureau the FACT Act requires that the bureau investigate the disputed information. They must provide written verification to you within 30 days verifying the information. In your daughter’s case, the bureau would have to get in touch with whatever bank is currently holding the account and request verifying documents. From what your daughter has experienced, it is unlikely the bureau will be able to obtain verification. The FACT Act requires that without proper verification, a disputed item must be deleted from a consumer’s report.

If the bureau fails to provide you with verification in the 30 day time period, send another request by certified mail demanding the item be removed. Include a copy of your receipt from the original dispute letter and explain that you are aware the item must be removed under the FACT Act.

If the bureau claims that the information has been  verified, their response should include contact information for the bank that providing the info. Contact the new bank by certified mail and dispute the listing the bank is reporting to the bureau and request verification from the bank.  Because the bank you originally opened the account with has closed it is unlikely the new bank will be able to come up with verification. The item must be deleted from your report without that verification.

Finally, if everything else fails you can  get help from your state’s consumer protection agency.