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Superintendent Joseph Johnson
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Last Update February 4, 2016
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CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU TAKES 
STEPS TO IMPROVE CHECKING ACCOUNT ACCESS


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Screening Accuracy Improvements
The bulletin issued by the CFPB today warns banks and credit unions that they must have systems in place regarding accuracy when they pass on information, such as negative account histories, to checking account reporting or other credit reporting companies. The consumer reporting companies focused on checking accounts typically generate reports on charge-off amounts, past non-sufficient funds activity, unpaid or outstanding bounced checks, overdrafts, involuntary account closures, and fraud.

The CFPB is concerned about inaccuracies and inconsistent information provided by the financial institutions to the reporting companies. In a recent Supervisory Highlights, the CFPB noted that examiners found that one or more financial institutions failed to “establish and implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy of the deposit account information provided to the consumer reporting companies.” Examiners also found that at least one entity violated its federal obligation to handle consumer disputes about these issues.
Banks and credit unions should expect accurate information from checking account reporting companies to make fair assessments of deposit account applicants. If the system is tainted with incomplete, inconsistent, and inaccurate information, banks and credit unions cannot make informed decisions.
The bulletin is available at: cfpb_supervisory-bulletin-furnisher-accuracy-obligations.pdf

Empowering Consumers to Navigate the System
The CFPB is also releasing resources to encourage consumers to shop for lower-risk checking and prepaid accounts that will not authorize them to exceed their account balances. These products can help consumers maintain their accounts longer, and the banks and credit unions that offer them are often more accepting in their screening practices. The resources include tips and information about choosing an account and managing an account.

The CFPB also released a consumer advisory to help people know what to do if they have been denied a deposit account or have an involuntary account closure. The CFPB is concerned that most consumers are unaware of what to do if they are rejected by a bank; and most are probably unaware of the screening system that provided the information to the bank about their checking-account profile. A consumer who had an account closed and goes to open a new account at another institution may be equally unaware of how this screening information will be used to judge his or her account application. Today’s advisory tells consumers:
     •How to obtain a copy of their checking account history: If a bank or credit union makes its decision to deny a new account based on negative reporting, the bank or credit union is required to provide the consumer with the source. The consumer should contact that source and has the right to obtain a free copy of his or her consumer report.
     •How to dispute items with the consumer reporting company: If the consumer thinks the information provided by the checking account reporting company is inaccurate, he or she should file a dispute with the company. The company is required to conduct a reasonable investigation. The CFPB is providing a sample letter to help consumers dispute the inaccurate information with the checking account reporting company.
     •How to dispute items with a bank or credit union that reported inaccurate information: If the consumer thinks some of the information on the consumer report is inaccurate, then he or she also should contact the financial institution that reported it, such as his or her old bank. The consumer can then request a correction. Federal law requires financial institutions to promptly correct inaccurate information. The CFPB is releasing a sample letter that consumers can use to contact a financial institution to dispute inaccurate information.
     • To shop around for lower-risk products: Consumers can shop around to find banks or credit unions that offer accounts without features like overdraft, many of which are available despite prior negative account history. Prepaid products are also a viable option for consumers looking to ensure they only spend the money they have.
    The guide to select a lower-risk account can be found at: 
                            cfpb consumer-guide to selecting a lower rist account.pdf
​    The guide to manage your checking account can be found at:
                            cfpb consumer guide to managing your checking account.pdf
     The consumer advisory about being denied a checking account can be found at: 
                            cfpb consumer guide to being denied a checking account.pdf