Fraud prevention has come a long, long way. From ChexSystem to Telecheck and then Early Warning Services (EWS), banking systems have strived in no small ways to keep fraud on the very low. EWS was designed by major banks like Wells Fargo, Capital One, Truist, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. The aim was to prevent fraud as accurately as possible.
EWS is one of the systems put in place to get this done. The screening system detects and reports fraudulent bank activity like counterfeiting, forgery, and so on. Looking at EWS from this standpoint, it should be very helpful, right? That’s exactly where there’s a problem. EWS does not always give reliable information and many people have been put through a lot of trouble because of this. So here’s the big picture: There’s good news and there’s bad news. Since most people prefer to have the bad news first, we’ll go with that.
If your bank application has never been halted suddenly by a certain strange term called EWS, then you’re in serious luck. But if you’ve at some point run into this brick wall and now need to understand just what is going on, don’t despair either. EWS is a risk detection service that works to prevent banks from opening accounts for fraudulent individuals. Banks and credit unions find it handy when they need to decide if it’s risky to let a person bank with them or not.
While EWS is relatively new, it has gone quite far in causing damages and unnecessary delays. How does this happen? Suppose you walk into a bank to open an account. All is good until you are told that you can’t proceed because there’s an activity that’s fraudulent on your record. That could be damaging, confusing and shocking too. A bank denying you service, halting your account and leaving you to deal with what comes isn’t exactly an esteeming situation. An account which you just opened can be closed because of EWS reports and it can even prevent you from being able to write a check. Do you get the picture?
You can get flagged for the tiniest of things. Fraud in this case is not always intentional. Depositing a check that bounces can be enough to make the bank file a record against you. What EWS does is clear, but the terms of fraud are not always open to the public so that they know to avoid them. And that’s where the big problem is. Banks and credit unions subscribe to Early Warning Services LLC to check both current and intending customers for the sake of protecting their own interests.
And it doesn’t even matter whether you’re opening the account online or at a physical branch. EWS will step into the picture at some point and it can knock you down real hard. It may not just impact your ability to open or operate accounts with financial institutions, EWS may also affect what services the banks let you have access to.
The silver lining in the cloud here is that you can always clear your record so that you can resume banking like every other normal person. As important as EWS screening is to banks and credit unions, the reports about you are not always set in stone. You have every right to dispute it and clear your record.
Your banking behavior in the past is considered able to form opinions about you in the EWS and as delicate as it is, mistakes can be made. You may be reported for something that wasn’t entirely your fault or even have your name remain implicated when you ought not to have been.
A classic example of this is owing your bank a small fee and not getting cleared even after you have paid the fee. So it is clearly understood that not everyone flagged by EWS is truly a fraudster and that’s why you have the right to see what has been reported of you and clear your name from the soil.
EWS is not the only mean guy when it comes to banking issues. Many people can testify to just how nasty TeleCheck and ChexSystems can also be. These three are not in any way competitors, they rather support one another and make fraud detection even more thorough for the organizations that use them. Some banks use either of these while some use two at the same time. The difference in them is the method of reporting. TeleCheck usually adds a risk score apart from a form and a summary of financial history in their report.
ChexSystems is the most popular one in the US. The report from ChexSystems comes with just the summary while EWS simply uses the form that contains your financial history. To the average customer, there isn’t so much difference between these three systems but to clear your name, the place to start from is to know which of them is causing the hitch.
As earlier pointed out, you can legally dispute your EWS report but before then, you’ll need to see the report for yourself. From when you find out that your account is having a problem due to EWS, you can access a free report from the company so that you can understand what exactly went wrong. The report will clearly state whatever negative history you’re being flagged for.
There are the ways to get this done. Note that the process may be a little tasking but it’s what you have to do if you want your report. The preliminary step is to download this identification form. You’re then to complete it and send through, attaching a copy of your government-issued ID. This form is what you will then submit through the EWS portal, fax or by U.S Mail.
To submit through the EWS portal, go to consumerservices.earlywarning.com. You can follow the instructions to upload all necessary documents and create your user ID. You will be asked to input the Early Warning email address. Therein, put firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact through the U.S. Mail, use:
Attn: Consumer Services Department
16552 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Alternatively, you can also use their Consumer Call Center (800) 325-7775 to order your report. They also answer your questions on this line. And finally, this dispute checklist will guide you through the process.
You will most likely disagree with many of the things in the report and there is the point where you can raise an objection. Note that bank fraud records that are true against you may be impossible to clear but you should be able to remove anything that has to do with updating old debts. From the time when you initiate a dispute on the system following the guidelines stated, you should hear back within 30 days. The disputed negative item would be removed from your report if all goes right. If your request was declined, you can still submit a rebuttal. Your bank will be able to consider all things and make their final decision about your account.
It’s not even surprising in the least way that someone somewhere is lurking around to scam people that are desperate about fixing their EWS report. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to these things and lose their hard earned money while trying to fix what is a relatively simple problem. Don’t add to the number through ignorance.
Disputes surrounding and related to EWS should always be forwarded to the appropriate quarters and not through some back door service claiming to make things happen for you at a snap of the finger.
Let’s look at some of the ways people get scammed around EWS issues.
Many scam organizations exploit the ignorance of individuals. Understand that you have the right to a free EWS report once every year. You should not have to pay anyone to get your report for you because you can contact EWS directly and that without having to pay anyone any money.
This is the easiest to fall into seeing how annoying it can be to realize you’re being flagged for something that ought to have been cleared a long time ago. But don’t let the annoyance get the better of you so much that you give money to people who claim to figure things out for you while you just relax. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is..
A red flag to look out for here is companies that also promise to fix your EWS report for you. No one can tell you for sure if EWS will honor or disagree with your claim and anyone saying they know for sure just wants to swindle you. Refuse to work with a third party in getting your EWS problems fixed and you should be just fine.
This is the most obvious of them all. Anyone who claims to be a representative of EWS is most likely out to scam you and should be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If they’re asking for money on behalf of the organization, there’s the more reason to be careful.
Early Warning Services tries to do right by the banks and credit unions that they serve. They file all the activities of individuals that use financial institutions so that they can reduce fraud as much as possible.
However, mistakes are bound to happen sometimes. Despite the high tech that’s employed to ensure accuracy as much as possible, things can still slip by. It is good to be educated about how the system works and what to do if you run into problems.
You have the right to make sure false records are not attached to your name. Even if you don’t run into EWS issues, always request your yearly report to be able to review what facts are being circulated about you. You may not know just how much of an impact those reports can have in your life.
*NOTICE* – We are not lawyers, and nothing contained here should be construed as legal advice! We can only offer our educated opinions. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer.
If all of the above seems like a lot of work, then another option is simplay opening an account at a bank that doesn’t use EWS (e.g. BBVA USA). You can find out more about non-ChexSystems and non-EWS banks here.
You can also ask your own questions, please contact us using the form here.