If you’ve ever had trouble opening a bank account you are probably familiar with Chexsystems. But have you heard of EWS? Consumers have more than enough consumer reporting agencies as well as government agencies keeping tabs on them.
The banking industry collaborated to form another consumer reporting agency to compile and report your banking habits.
Early Warning Services (EWS) is owned by Bank of America, BB&T, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, Wells Fargo and Capital One. Formed to combat fraud in the financial industry, EWS makes it possible for banks to easily exchange information between organizations in order to prevent and combat fraud.
It’s almost comical to write that the above “too big to fail banks;” all of which were bailed out with taxpayer dollars for making risky bets with customer deposits, want to combat fraud. Anyway, here is how EWS works:
Banks Subscribe to use EWS
Banks and Credit Unions subscribe to Early Warning Services. Information is shared with the financial institution about a potential customer’s risk. Below are some activities customers are screened for:
- Prior history of fraud
- Account abuse
- Check Alterations
- Check Kiting
- Identity verification
- Account owner authentication
EWS screens potential bank and credit union customers in a branch, online and even teller window, phone and ATM transactions are screened.
Related: Find Second Chance Banks
What EWS Considers as Risk
Customer risks could include fraud committed at another financial institution. The problem with the notation of fraud is that many customers unintentionally commit fraud. Let’s say a family member; employer or even business gives you a check. You deposit that check. If that check bounces your bank’s risk department may report fraud to Early Warning System Even if you cover the deposit immediately, the bank may report fraud to EWS.
How Early Warning Services affects Consumers
Consumers may be prevented from opening a bank account, in-branch or online due to a report in Early Warning Services. What’s worse is a bank may open an account for you only to close it a week or two later after their Loss Prevention Dept. screens your new account.
Many times consumers are unaware of any report to EWS and only find out when they are attempting to open a bank account or write a check. Yes, EWS can even prevent you from writing a check. Telecheck may not be reason your check was denied.
Consumers have complained being reported to Early Warning Services for miniscule amounts. Some consumers have paid those small amounts and are still unable to open a bank account or write a check. Because some consumers are not aware of an EWS report there is no opportunity given to prevent the negative notation.
Consumer Laws that Protect You
Early Warning Services is a consumer reporting agency, just like Chexsystems and Telecheck. You are entitled to a free consumer report from Early Warning Services under the Fact Act every 12 months. You can also order your consumer report any time but it may be subject to a fee.
Consumers can also dispute the information in the EWS report just like you can dispute items in your credit report or items in Chexsystems. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires only accurate and complete information be reported by any consumer reporting agency and that includes EWS.
How to Order your EWS Report
Early Warning Services does not make it simple to order your EWS Report. You must first download and complete an Identification Form and return it with a copy of your government-issued identification. You can submit the completed form along with your identification through the following methods:
Electronically through the EWS communication portal
Go to: consumerservices.earlywarning.com. When prompted for the Early Warning email address, enter firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the online instructions to create your User ID and password and upload the documents to be transmitted to Early Warning. If you need technical assistance call 1.877.639.4457.
Attn: Consumer Services Department
16552 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Alternative method to order EWS Report
Contact Early Warning Services at their Consumer Call Center
(800) 325-7775 for your consumer report.