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One bad check can land you in Telecheck

Statement: In 16 years of having our joint checking account, we recently had one $40 NSF check due to forgetting to subtract an automatic monthly debit from the account balance. This is the ONLY NSF check that either my husband or I have ever written in our lives. We immediately made a deposit in our account and made sure the merchant issued the NSF check was paid. Telecheck informed us that we should wait 10 days, then start using the checking account again. We did as instructed and our checks were once again accepted at merchants using Telecheck. Yesterday, 7-8 weeks after the NSF check incident, we had a check refused at a merchant using Telecheck. After calling Telecheck and going through all the lengthy automated procedure, I was finally able to speak to a representative. Basically I was told that the only way I would ever know if my check would be accepted was to go shopping, buy something, and wait at the check-out (holding my breath) to see if the check would be accepted or rejected. Absolutely ridiculous!!!

Response: TeleCheck is a specialty consumer reporting agency that offers a service to merchants to help assess the risk of taking a customer’s check. It often does not get it right because many consumers just like you have an excellent banking history. Unfortunately, one mishap with an NSF check can get you reported to Telecheck. It’s even possible for a check to be labeled risky even when a customer has never bounced a check.

Writing a check has become similar to using a credit card because Telecheck’s service authorizes check transactions and converts paper checks into electronic items at the point of sale. Your check will either be approved or declined – similar to using a credit card at the point of sale. It’s a crappy system that leaves customers standing at the register often shocked or embarrassed.

What’s worse is when you clear a denied transaction, you really have no way of knowing if your check will be accepted again. Once in the Telecheck matrix, it can become a store-by-store experience.

It’s good you took action because many consumers don’t — which never gets their “ban” lifted. Once you get through the tangled web of Telecheck’s automated voice menu you should be okay to write checks at any merchant again. Sometimes Telecheck just needs to verify your identity to lift the ban. But if the problem remains, it’s likely that you need to order your Telecheck report to view the information being reported. Since you were able to write a check at the merchant again, it’s not likely you have a negative Telecheck history but it’s always good to know for sure.

The problem could also be with different merchants. Some may approve your checks while others deny because every check is evaluated individually depending on the criteria used by each merchant.

I read an article that said a store denied a check of a woman after she added her name to her elderly mother’s checking account. The reason: Her elderly mother had bounced a check so Telecheck’s verification system flagged the daughter’s check, even though the daughter’s check was not written from her mother’s account. That’s how screwed up the Telecheck system is…the daughter’s checks are flagged from her separate, different bank account based upon her name being on her mother’s account who wrote a bad check.

Stay on top of things and order your free Telecheck report.

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