Saturday, July 25, 2020

Chex Mix

No, this isn't what I am talking about.

People obsess about their credit score and credit report.  And to some extent, you should monitor your credit report, which you can do, for free, at  As a reader helpfully noted, you can space out the three reports (from the three reporting agencies) over the year, so every four months, you can check one of them and see if someone is trying to open credit in your name, or some creditor has made an erroneous report.

You can also lock these reports so that no one can open credit in your name (or shouldn't be able to) without written permission or unlocking of your account online.  It is pretty easy to use, and you can lock and unlock your credit report online, for one day, or for a predetermined period of time (one month) in some cases, which might be handy if you are car shopping.  It then automatically re-locks.

But your credit report is not the end-all of your financial history.  Banks have their own reporting system known as "Chex" which produces a report of your banking history.   Again, obsessing about this report is probably silly.  If you have your financial house in order, odds are, you credit report and Chex report are just fine.

On the other hand, if you routinely bounce checks and stiff the bank, your report may be less-than-stellar. And no, banks are not obligated to offer you an account, if your financial history is checkered.

I related before how a friend of mine who worked at the Patent Office Credit Union explained the problems with poverty banking.  Every payday, the GS-2 clerks would line up at the Credit Union and have money orders made out to their landlord, the utility company, and so on and so forth.   Each cost 75 cents!   I asked my friend why, and he said, "We tried giving them checking accounts, but they just wrote checks until they ran out!"   Some people just don't get finances, which is why student loans and payday loans proliferate.   It is sad, but it puts the problems of middle-class people (credit card debts, buying timeshares, leasing cars) into perspective.

Of course, there are others who simply defraud banks - borrowing money and not paying it back.  Writing bad checks and then skipping town.   That sort of thing.  And banks have a need to know who it is they are dealing with.

But like with the credit reports, you have a right to a copy of this document and a right to contest any inaccurate information (and inaccurate information can appear in anyone's report).  I ordered a copy online, but I guess since I am a new customer, so to speak, they would not e-mail it to me, but mail it to my home address.  I will update this blog posting when I receive it, if it is of any interest.