Bad transactions can lead to losing your bank account

Zikomo Fields carries around a prepaid debit card with around $23,000 on it. This is the only way he can control his money because he doesn’t have a bank account -- and this isn’t by choice. He makes more than $100,000 a year and has a steady job as a software engineer. But when he applies to a bank, his name appears in a consumer credit reporting database called, ChexSystem.

Danielle Douglas, a Financial reporter for The Washington Post, wrote a story on Fields and how many people are shut out of the banking system because of a past history of bad money transactions. Whether it’s repeated overdrafts or bounced checks, ChexSystem has it on file. And these transactions don’t just disappear from your record overnight:

“Most of these accounts will have some kind of bad mark in your file for up to seven years, which is a problem. If you’re trying to get back in the traditional banking system, then it’s gonna be difficult to get a checking or savings account” says Douglas.

While there are other options to store your money -- like the prepaid debit card Fields owns -- it still prevents one from taking out loans or mortages, even if you could now afford it. 

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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