RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After Suntrust and Wells Fargo announced they're adding debit card fees for customers in some states, some people told us they're thinking of changing banks. But before you change from any bank, you should know banks can monitor your banking history. It's information that's not in your credit report. In fact, there are several little-known credit bureaus, aside from the big three, that track almost every dollar you spend.
If you bounce a check, it won't show up on your credit reports from the big three credit bureaus. But it could show up on a report from a "4th bureau" agency. They're called ChexSystems, Telecheck, and SCAN. Banks can look at your reports before giving you an account, credit card, or set your interest rates.
We asked Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions' Patrick Owens, who counsels consumers about managing their credit, to explain what consumers should understand about how "4th bureaus" work.
"Everyone knows there are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Transunion, and Experion. But ChexSystem gives them more. Whereas, if there's a bounced check or any late payments that may not show up on your credit report, it may show up under ChexSystems," Owens said.
There are other "4th bureau" agencies. Phone and cable companies and other utilities can see whether you pay your utility bills on time through the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange. LexisNexis Personal Reports follows your insurance claims, and your employment and residence histories. A landlord or potential new employer can check that. And payday lenders and rent-to-own stores can check on your payday loan history through Teletrack. So don't think one late payment will go unnoticed.
"Anything else they may default on could come back to haunt them", said Owens.
Some "4th bureau" agencies, such as ChexSystems, let you check your file and dispute any possible errors you might find. But some don't, or charge a fee, which has some consumer groups crying foul.
That's why Owens offers this advice: "Keep records because even if the 4th bureau doesn't allow you to go through and try to fix it, you can show the institution you're going through and try to clear your name specifically."
Bankrate.com lists phone numbers for some 4th bureau agencies where you can get your report or dispute any mistakes.