Call Kurtis: A No-Banking List?

Wednesday is payday for Janell Schindler. That means another trip to the check cashing store.

“It’s ridiculous,” Janell said after exiting the store. “I’ll tell you this check that I just cashed cost me 40 bucks to cash.”
It also cost her 40 minutes — most of that time standing in line to cash a check she used to be able to cash for free.

It’s been this way for three years. The Sacramento mother of two said she can’t find a bank willing to let her open an account where she can cash checks, and she said she knows why.

“I honestly feel i was lied to, from the bank,” she said.
Janell said she thinks someone stole her ATM card and tried to withdraw money in 2008. She said her account balance was low, so no money was actually taken out, but that Bank of America told her not to worry about it.

She closed her account shortly after, but after she tried to open an account at Chase, she learned she was on a no-banking list.
“Bank of America is telling me there’s nothing that I can do whatsoever,” she said. ‘[They told me] it’s going to be on my account for 7 years.”

So what is this list? CBS Sacramento has learned that a company called Early Warning Services maintains it. The company is owned by several of the big banks, including Bank of America and Chase.

“It’s very important,” said Beth Mills of the California Bankers Association about these lists used by banks. “Most of the banks, at least a vast majority of them, subscribe to these systems.”

She said they’re a cost-effective way for banks to assess fraud risk.

CBS Sacramento asked Early Warning Services what puts you on the list and how to get off it. The company told us via email “our corporate policy is to decline media interviews and comments.”
After we got involved, Bank of America removed Janell from the Early Warning Services list, but saying it still won’t let her bank with them.
Janell insists she’s never done anything wrong and is looking forward to cashing a paycheck without giving a cut to the check cashing store.

“I’m very happy and thankful,” she said.

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