EWS can stop you from opening a bank account

what-is-ews

If you’ve ever had trouble opening a bank account you are probably familiar with ChexSystems. But have you heard of EWS?

Early Warning Services (EWS) makes it possible for banks to exchange information between organizations in order to prevent and combat fraud.

While ChexSystems maintains a huge database on how bank customers manage their accounts, EWS primarily tracks fraudulent activities such as check fraud, bank fraud, forgery, check-kiting, check alteration and counterfeiting.

Early Warning Services was formed to combat fraud in the financial industry. EWS is co-owned by Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

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
  • Forgery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Check Alterations
  • Paperhanging
  • Check Kiting
  • Identity verification
  • Account owner authentication

EWS screens potential bank and credit union customers in a branch and online. Additonally, teller window, phone and ATM transactions are sometimes screened.

Related: Find Second Chance Banks

What EWS considers as risk transactions

Using your bank account for any kind of fraud is a major red flag. But the problem with a fraud notation 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 the check bounces, your bank’s risk department may report fraud to Early Warning Systems. Even if you cover the check deposit immediately, the bank can still report fraud to EWS.

Customer risks could include fraud committed at another financial institution also.

How Early Warning Services impacts 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 the reason your check was denied.

Consumers have complained being reported to Early Warning Services for minuscule amounts. Some consumers have paid those small amounts and are still unable to open a bank account or write a check.

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.

If you find information in your consumer report that you believe is inaccurate or incomplete, you have the legal right to dispute the report’s content with Early Warning Services and the bank that reported the information to EWS. Under the FCRA, banks must conduct a reasonable investigation of your dispute. The bank must correct the error and notify EWS to remove the inaccurate information.

EWS information can remain up to 7 years on your records although EWS typically removes information from your files after 5 years.

EWS settles class-action lawsuit

March 2020, Early Warning Services agreed to pay nearly $4 million for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act in how they respond to consumer file requests.

According to the class-action, Early Warning Services did not comply with a consumer’s request for her EWS file. In violation of the FCRA, EWS provided an inaccurate consumer file — allegedly removing the term “fraud” from the file disclosures.

Plaintiff Shabani Stewart filed her class-action lawsuit in March 2018, claiming the company violated the FCRA by failing to provide accurate disclosures to consumers when they have fraud alerts on their account.

Stewart alleges she was repeatedly denied a bank account at several banks. The banks allegedly informed her there were fraud notations in her EWS file. But, after she ordered her EWS file there was no mention of fraud.

Allegedly EWS failed to provide her with the EWS file they were providing to the banks where she applied for a checking account. EWS violated the FCRA by failing to provide accurate disclosures to consumers when they have fraud alerts on their accounts.

“Plaintiff was misled by EWS’s disclosure. Plaintiff specifically wanted to know if EWS had a record of her committing ‘fraud,’ in connection with her Bank of America account,” the Early Warning Services class-action lawsuit claimed. “EWS had such a record, but failed to disclose it.”

Stewart’s true EWS file allegedly contained a report from Bank of America for “checking account fraud.” Stewart maintains she never committed fraud; however, due to the false disclosure from Early Warning Services, she was unable to dispute this record.

Find out who is eligible to participate in the class-action lawsuit.

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 consumerservices@earlywarning.com. 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.

U.S. Mail
Early Warning
Attn: Consumer Services Department
16552 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Fax
Fax: 480.656.6850

Alternative method to order EWS Report
Contact Early Warning Services at their Consumer Call Center
(800) 325-7775 for your consumer report.

 

32 thoughts on “EWS can stop you from opening a bank account”

  1. Can You provide bank info for ILLINOIS where I could possibly open a checking account. I was reported to EWS 4 years ago and still cannot open a bank account. Fact i,s I was not responsible for the claim against my name.

    1. The availability of a “freeze” depends on your state law or a consumer reporting agency’s policies. You will have to contact EWS to inquire about a freeze: EWS Consumer Services (800)325-7775. Even though EWS is really a consumer reporting agency, they categorize themselves as a “security firm” specializing in bank and check fraud for merchants; not consumers. They may not offer a freeze on consumer reports but it never hurts to try.

    2. What can I do to fix the problem that I have to open a checking…am in Florida and each bank I check with deny me of that service…whether
      Checking or savings
      Thank you..

      1. You would have to find a bank that does not use Early Warning Services (EWS) or ChexSystems to open accounts or a bank in Florida that offers second chance accounts.

        When you have EWS records that typically indicates some kind of fraud involved with past banking transactions. Even if that’s not true, banks and credit unions will automatically decline new accounts when any type of fraud is indicated. The biggest problem with EWS is banks report fraud when many times no fraud was involved.

        You can dispute errors and incorrect information on EWS and ChexSystems.

        In the meantime, you may want to try a financial institution that does not use EWS or ChexSystems like the SoFi Money Cash Management Account.

        SoFi Money Cash Management Account


        The SoFi Money Cash Management Account is offered by SoFi Securities LLC, a FINRA registered broker dealer. With the cash management account is online-only. You can make deposits, write checks, utilize electronic bill pay and transfer money. There are no monthly fees or overdraft fees. Plus, you earn a competitive 1.60% APY on all deposits. The sign up process can take less than 60 seconds. There is no minimum balance requirement to open a SoFi cash management account, but you can earn a $25 cash bonus if you fund the account with $100 or more within 14 days of opening the account. You get a Visa debit card and all ATM transaction fees are reimbursed. Your money is FDIC-insured deposits up to $1.5MM.

        Learn More→

        Chime Bank is another online-only bank account that does not use ChexSystems or EWS. You get a checking account and Visa debit card but it does not earn interest like the Sofi cash management account.

  2. I’m in ews how do I go about trying to get my debt waived I am receiving government subsidy and a college student. I can pay all debts if they work with me. I’m suing my former partner for bounced checks and for being robbed from my God mom…

    1. You will contact the bank that put you on EWS to see if they will agree to delete the item on EWS in exchange for payment. I’ve never heard of anyone getting their debt “waived” from EWS but suppose you can contact EWS directly to see if they do that. Keep in mind banks are not required to remove you from EWS even if you pay the accounts. The other option would be to dispute the negative information directly with EWS. If you do not have your EWS report to dispute, you can order it here.

      1. Lisa ,
        You seem to know a lot about EWS. Did you work for a bank or EWS? Recently, I had several accounts shut down by BOFA for supposed fraud. I have disputed with the bank and was not able to remove the EWS alert. Can you recommend a course of action?

        Thanks,
        Eric

        1. EWS is a consumer reporting agency just like the 3 major credit bureaus. As such, you can dispute directly with EWS and they have 30 days to either verify the dispute as accurate or remove the negative information. I suggest you get your EWS report first to see exactly what and how BofA is reporting the negative information. If you find any inaccurate information you can dispute that inaccuracy. There is a possibility the inaccurate information could be corrected but in your dispute letter, request any inaccuracy be DELETED, not corrected. Here is an example of inaccurate information to look for:

          1. Incorrect or missing account numbers
          2. Incorrect or missing routing numbers
          3. Errors in amounts
          4. Errors in open or close date
          5. Missing open or close date
          6. Inaccurate amounts owed when account was closed or charged-off

          The objective is to find a FCRA violation or mistake as the basis for deletion.

          1. So are you saying that lets say BOA reported to EWS that my date of birth is 10/22/81 when its actually 10/20/81 and under the same account where the date of birth is wrong they have the account as paid in full but a comment stating that I attempted fraud on this account. Should the whole account be removed from EWS based on the incorrect date of birth or do they just remove the date of birth and keep the account in the EWS system with the same negative comment??

  3. I have an old item on Early Warning Services dated 2009 and getting close to the 7 years. Are there banks that will open a simple checking account without checking Early Warning Services?

  4. I’m on EWS for 2 accounts that actually where overdrawn when they closed. There is no contact information for the banks so how do I get it cleared now that I want to take care of it? These accounts are from when I was younger and I just let them both go but I would like to take care of them and move on with my life. Do I really have to wait 7 years from the incident date or can they be paid of and taken off before that? Please advise.

    1. You will have to find the contact information for the banks to ask if they will agree to delete the items on EWS in exchange for payment. Keep in mind banks are not required to remove you from EWS even if you pay the accounts. The other option would be to dispute the negative information directly with EWS. If you do not have your EWS report to dispute, you can order it here. The EWS report should contain the banks that reported you and for what reasons.

  5. 3 years ago I was dealing with a domestic violence case which caused me to be (later found out) that my ex boyfriend was depositing a check in my account with my debit card account and it resulting in fraud because it was from an account that the people never used more like a savings account. So before the checks were cleared in b of a system I closed my account because my ex was taking money out without my permission.
    B of A account was closed and my information went to early warning services & apparently chex systems.
    2.5 years later after disputing all the check problems chex systems sent me a letter of satisfaction.
    I went to open up a bank account and was guaranteed a second chance account and ended up freezing my account and bank manager said it was directly stopped by early warning systems. The manager said if they received a letter from EWS before dec 8th then my account would be restored but still not 100% guaranteed.
    What should I do? This is starting to get irritating and Im loosing as much patience as the time it will take to get me free & clean. What is the best idea you have to possibly clear this issue.

    1. From what I gather you disputed ChexSystems but not Early Warning Services. If this is correct I see nothing you can do except dispute Early Warning Services. The same information that got you clear on ChexSystems should work for EWS. Unfortunately the dispute process takes up to 30 days to complete.

      If Bank of America verifies the EWS record as accurate then you can take further steps to get a final resolution. Start with complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general. In your complaint to the CFPB include whatever steps you have taken to resolve the issue. They usually require you first try to resolve the problem on your own before they step in. If Bank of America is claiming you committed fraud request the CFPB make them prove it. Fraud can mean anything that a bank wants it to. What proof do they have that you intended to commit fraud?

      I realize it’s a lot to do but once you get the Consumer Bureau and your state attorney general involved banks typically respond favorably. In fact you might want to contact your state banking commission. They might also have a complaint process. Most complaint forms can be completed online. These agencies can be beneficial in resolving issues because banks cannot ignore state agencies. It’s worth your time to resolve now because EWS records remain for 7 years.

  6. I was placed in to EWS by bank of America. I sent a letter to ask that I be removed as I owe them nothing. I was place there due to my business practices. I utilize a local bank in my area for my normal business and personal accounts. I have a customer in a different state. to speed up our payment I open a business Bank of America account and had them deposit our check in that account. Then i wrote a check from that account to the local bank we use. I never wrote a check back and forth to each account as that is kitting. I only wrote checks going one way and on deposited funds from our customer. They closed my account Feb 2014 and held $23,000 of our money for 1 month. A few months after this was release i got a call from our local branch manager stating that all of my accounts was being closed due to EWS reported by B of A. This was a complete devastation as I have not been able to open a new account. I begged the bank to remove us as we owe no bank any money. They said it stays no other reply. I am stuck not understand what to do next or how long this is on there.

  7. I am on early warning services for compass bank. got 1 year to go but I can not have my account at wells fargo or any bank as long on ews. I try no luck at all it update it on their system why the account is been closed. what they put is not right. the bank will take off as well as ews can get off for me I can open my wells fargo acct.

    1. Early Warning Services is a consumer reporting agency which means not only are you entitled to your free EWS report once every 12 months; you can also dispute errors and inaccurate information. Order your EWS Report and try disputing the wrong information. It may just be deleted if it cannot be verified by Compass Bank as accurate information.

      Contact Early Warning Services at their Consumer Call Center
      (800) 325-7775 for your consumer report:
      Early Warning Services
      8777 E. Harford Drive Suit 110
      Scottsdale, AZ 85255
      800-325-7775
      Early Warning Services

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