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This Is Uncomfortable

Bad transactions can lead to losing your bank account

Kai Ryssdal Jun 23, 2014
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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. 

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