One of the fun parts about sharing bank bonuses is that you meet folks who are really into bank bonuses. Like a dozen accounts a year and tracking it all with complicated spreadsheets. It’s amazing and I love it.
The banks, however, don’t love it. Obviously, they prefer it if you open an account and use it as your main bank account (and hopefully, their debit card too!).
One of the ways they can avoid too many bank bonuses going out the door is by tracking banking behavior.
Much like how they track your use of debt with a credit report (at the credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), they also track banking behavior through a ChexSystems report.
Not all banks use ChexSystems but many do.
And just like credit bureaus, ChexSystems is subject to the reporting requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You’re entitled to a copy of your report every 12 months — this includes the disclosure report and the consumer score reports.
Have you requested yours recently?
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What is a ChexSystems QualiFile Score?
The ChexSystems score, or QualiFile score, is a three digit number that represents your risk as a banking customer. The QualiFile score range is 100 to 899, with a higher number being a better score.
(there are also “exception” scores of 9000 – 9999 that indicate something odd has happened like fraud or not enough data)
Banks set their own criteria when it comes to who they will approve for an account. If your QualiFile score is below their threshold, they won’t approve you.
Just like a credit score, you can improve your QualiFile score but it takes time.
The first step to finding out your score is to request it. Then, if you believe it is lower than it should, you’ll need to get your report to look for errors. If you find any errors, fix them, and it can improve your QualiFile score. Otherwise, you just have to wait for the negative events to fall off your report, which can take 3-5 years.
As you wait, you can consider second chance bank accounts as an option too. These are meant for customers who can’t get a typical checking account.
1. Requesting ChexSystems Consumer Disclosure Report
There are two reports and the disclosure report is the “easier” one to request because you can do it entirely online. It’s also the less interesting of the two. 🙂
First, you can submit a request here and then wait as they mail you a copy. Here’s a sample copy of what’s included in your report. I requested mine and it was just two pages because I don’t have any reportable behavior.
The report typically lists anything “bad” that you may have done, like bouncing a check or overdrawn an account and not deposited money to bring the balance above zero. Banks want to avoid similar situations so they may use this report to deny you an account.
Like with a credit report, you’ll want to review this for errors and dispute any you find.
2. Requesting ChexSystems Consumer Score Report
This is the juicy one and this is the one that has a QualiFile score.
The QualiFile is a “real-time DDA origination solution that uses behavioral risk segmentation to ensure you open the right accounts in any channel based on your institution’s risk strategy.” It uses ChexSystems data, public records, and other sources to generate a score. DDA stands for “demand deposit account,” which is banking term that means a checking account.
It’s free to request this and it takes a few weeks to arrive.
My ChexSystems Consumer Score Disclosure Report
I requested my form in mid-July and it was finally sent to me a few weeks later.
It was a little underwhelming because it was just one page!
The report showed that my score was 652 with the following “Factors That Affected Score:”
- GB – TIME SINCE DDA INQUIRY ACTIVITY
- GD – INSUFFICIENT DDA INQUIRY ACTIVITY SAME FI
I’m not quite sure where 652 falls in the realm of “good” or “bad” but I’ve never been declined for a bank account (which is also why I never looked at this score).
As for the factors that affected my score, DDA stands for demand deposit account and I suppose my risk is that I opened a bank account recently (it was over a year ago). Also, there’s insufficient activity at the same FI (financial institution). I actually closed that account a few months ago because it just wasn’t working well for me.
I’m sure banks don’t like that type of behavior but it’s hardly “bad,” like overdrawing an account and then ghosting the bank, but bad is all relatively, right?
OK, what are some other QualiFile risk factors?
There isn’t a master list but there are clearly negative ones like overdrawing an account and not paying it back, to the point their charge it off. Or opening too many checking accounts in a short period of time. Or bouncing checks or committing fraud.
Some example reason codes I’ve found on the Internet:
- 1A – EXCESSIVE DELINQUENCY OR DEROGATORY CREDIT BEHAVIOR
- 1E – DELINQUENCY OR DEROG CREDIT BEHAVIOR INSTALLMENT TRADES
- 1N – NO CREDIT HISTORY-BANKCARD TRADES
- 1Q – NO CREDIT HISTORY-BANKCARD TRADES
- 2C – PREVIOUS DEBIT INQUIRY HISTORY
- 2I – RECENT DEBIT INQUIRY ACTIVITY
- 2O – INSUFFICIENT DEBIT HISTORY
- 2J – MULTIPLE RECENT DEBIT INQUIRIES
- EB – DDA HISTORY
- EF – NON-DDA INQUIRY ACTIVITY
- EG – TIME SINCE NON-DDA INQUIRY ACTIVITY
- EJ – NON-DDA INQUIRY OR RETAIL ITEM HISTORY
- I2 – CHEX INQUIRIES MAY HAVE ADVERSELY IMPACTED THE SCORE
How To Improve Your QualiFile Score
It’s a lot like your improving your credit score, you just need to demonstrate good behavior and wait.
Also, ChexSystems calculates your QualiFile score. A bank may use it or they may calculate their own score based on your data and their internal processes.
If you’re having trouble getting a checking account, your ChexSystems report and QualiFile score may be to blame. If you are being rejected, get your report and see if there’s something wrong in there.