By Kurtis Ming

ANTELOPE (CBS13) — You’ve heard of your credit report, but a Call Kurtis Investigation has learned there are dozens of reports about you, you probably don’t know about. A couple from Antelope didn’t know until they were cut off from their bank cards.

Johnny Smith says he has thousands of dollars in his account, but showed us how his credit union won’t let him get cash out of the ATM. His wife Stephanie says her bank card was rejected while shopping over the holidays.

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“You are totally embarrassed,” she recalls feeling. “You start looking at all these people around you and you think, oh my God.”

The couple says Safe Credit Union deactivated their cards over what popped up on their Chex Systems Report. They say they never heard of this report before. The company tracks banking and checking account histories. 80% of banks and credit unions use Chex Systems and share information including if you’ve over drafted, bounced a check, have unpaid debts, or if there’s suspected fraud with your account.

“It’s certainly pretty scary,” Johnny said. “It makes me feel like big brother has arrived.”

After looking into it, Johnny learned he ended up reported to Chex Systems after forgetting about an account he shared with his elderly mom at Western Credit Union. The monthly fees drained the account putting it $52 in the red.

“All this for $52,” Johnny said.

We’ve learned Chex Systems is just one of dozens of companies that may have reports on you. Each tracks a different habit including banking histories, insurance claims filed, prescription history, rental record, and even how often you return items to stores.

“I want to know what these people are saying about us,” Stephanie said.

Consumer Action’s Joe Ridout says you have a right to request the information they have on these reports and you should because they could be riddled with errors causing rental applications to be denied, keep you from opening a bank account or even drive up your insurance rates by thousands. He says you definitely should request your reports before applying for insurance, credit, a loan or a rental home.

Kurtis: How difficult is it to fix mistakes on these types of reports?
Ridout: It varies from company to company.

Consumer Action has developed an insider’s guide to Specialty Consumer Reports outlining how you can obtain, understand and manage your information.

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Once the Smith’s realized the negative status of the account Johnny shared with his mom, they say they cleared up the $52 balance, but they learned it would stay on their Chex Systems report for five years. He says Safe Credit Union refused to reactivate their ATM/debit cards.

“That’s our policy,” he says he was told.

Neither credit union would discuss this case with us citing their member’s privacy, but after we got involved Smith says the information reported to Chex Systems was pulled and Safe Credit Union reactivated their debit cards.

“It’s really interesting how much you use your debit card,” Johnny said.

“I think we should’ve been able to resolve this without having to go thru all the rigmarole,” said Stephanie.

Joe Ridout says you can opt to freeze many of these reports, but don’t be surprised if you get denied the services for which you are applying.

Safe Credit Union’s Statement
SAFE actively provides and strongly supports consumer financial education. Being fiscally savvy, leads to financial security and making sound financial decisions.

Like all financial institutions, SAFE uses verification services and consumer credit reporting agencies to help manage risk. These systems report on behavior that is deemed “risky”, allowing financial institutions to make decisions that are in the best interest of their institution and their member/shareholder’s well-being. Although we are unable to comment on any specific member circumstance or another financial institution’s actions, SAFE’s works closely with its members to weigh all of the particulars to make the right decisions for all of the parties involved. Unfortunately, these decisions are not always the easiest, nor do they always provide a solution that a member seeks.

Paul Hersek VP, Marketing
SAFE Credit Union

Western Credit Union’s Response
At Western, we believe working directly with a member, which we have done in this situation, is the best approach. Having direct dialog with members also allows us to ensure our members’ privacy is held to the highest level possible, which we take very seriously.

Lisa Otomo VP, Marketing
Western Credit Union

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