EWS Can Stop You from Opening a Bank Account (Everything You Need To Know)

Before applying for a bank account, it is a good idea to know the reasons you could be denied, especially if you have had a less than perfect banking record. Making financial mistakes when it comes to banking can put you in Chexsystems, a commonly known consumer reporting agency known for bank account denials. But did you know that another consumer reporting agency called Early Warning Services LLC (EWS) could also stop you from opening a bank account?

Although EWS is less common, more banks and merchants are starting to enroll in their services to lower their risk of fraud and better understand the consumer’s banking history.

What is Early Warning Systems (EWS)?

From the beginning of the 1990s, banks like JP Morgan, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America wanted to be able to share data as it related to mitigating deposit losses. So they decided to form an independent company, EWS. EWS would help validate check payments and deposits. In the early 2000s, fraud detection services and fraud data sharing were introduced, and EWS become a brand, entirely co-owned by JP Morgan, Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and more.

Banks and merchants will subscribe to EWS to participate in a wide variety of services to help them and their consumers, including:

  • Identity Check Services
  • Account Locator & Asset Search and Verification Services
  • Electronic SSN Verification
  • Mobile Identity Authentication
  • Payment Chek Services
  • Deposit Chek Services
  • Zelle Network and much, much more

Your banking data is shared between thousands of financial institutions across the United States, credit unions, and banks that use Early Warning Services, to help each other detect fraud and assess risk. The EWS process starts when a bank receives a new applicant or a check to cash. They may also use EWS to screen current account holders, which could result in sudden account closure.

If you receive a denial from a bank, you have rights under the Fair Credit Consumer Reporting Act from a need to know basis, to request a free consumer report to access your information from agencies such as EWS or ChexSystems.

How does the Early Warning System differ from ChexSystems?

ChexSystems is widely used among a majority of financial institutions. When you apply for an account that uses ChexSystems, they will supply a score and a summary based on their evaluation of your banking history, not your credit history.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other banks created EWS to provide banks a deposit score and a summary report of your banking history. They do not use your credit history. Denials for a bank account are not immediate, EWS leaves it up to the bank to decide if they want to take the risk or not when opening an account or depositing a check.

When you are denied, it is required that you are supplied with a notice that gives you the consumer agency name and contact information so that you know who to contact for a free report and possible dispute to file. Understanding the consumer agency name will help you identify if ChexSystems, EWS, or another agency generated the report. You may also like this post on 5 facts about ChexSystems here.

EWS Can Affect Your Ability to Open a Bank Account

EWS focuses on reducing the risk of fraud, and for the most part, people aren’t intentionally committing fraud. Of course, intentional deception is what is trying to be avoided with EWS banking. There are financial mistakes that could be considered fraud and be reported to EWS. Examples of this are:

  • Writing checks that bounce, not intentionally just didn’t have enough money in your account at the time
  • Depositing or cashing checks that bounce, you didn’t know that the check you had wasn’t good
  • Owing money to a former bank, even if it is small and paid off

When these items are reported to EWS, it will show up on a report ran by Early Warning System banks. Some banks have strict policies regarding information based on your EWS report, and even something small could affect your ability to open a bank account with them.

If Your Are in EWS Here is What You Do

Being reported to Early Warning Services is not the end of the world because you do have options to either right the wrong or go a different direction in the meantime.

It is essential to access and review your free EWS report, whether right after you are denied a checking account with a financial institution or before you start applying for a new bank account. The report will list out all of your information so that you can review it for accuracy and dispute if needed.

If you are in Early Warning Services and your report contains accurate information, don’t fall for scams that claim that they can clear your record for you. You also want to avoid identity theft. If you are finding it difficult to find a bank account that doesn’t use ChexSystems or Early Warning Services, then there may be some second chance checking account options for you to review.

Let’s go into depth about these steps.

Access and Review Your EWS Report

The first step you want to take when it comes to Early Warning Services is to access and review your EWS report. To start the process, you can visit the Early Warning Service website to request a report, which is an online-editable document that you can print out. You will complete, sign, and date the form. Then make a copy of one of the following; driver’s license, ID card, passport, or other government-issued identification. You can mail, fax, or electronically send your form through the EWS portal.

  • By mail: Early Warning, Attn: Consumer Services 16552 N. 90th Street Scottsdale, Arizona 85260.
  • By fax: (480) 656 – 6850
  • Electronically: Visit transfer portal by going to www.consumerservices.earlywarning.com. When prompted for the Early Warning Services email address, enter consumerservices@earlywarning.com. You will then follow the instructions to create your user ID and password and upload your documents.

Once Early Warning Services verifies your identity, EWS will mail your consumer report by mail or electronically within 15 days. If you live in Rhode Island: 4 business days. California, Connecticut, and Louisiana: 5 business days, and Maine: promptly.

If it is easier for you, you can also request your report by calling the Early Warning Services call center. Their hours are Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm MST. Call: 1-(800) 745-1560. Note that they will not provide your EWS report over the phone due to the sensitive information, but you will receive it via mail or electronically within the time frame. You may also like how to contact a real person via ChexSystems customer service on this post.

Dispute Inaccurate Information on EWS Report

After receiving and reviewing the information on your EWS report, you may find incomplete or inaccurate information. At this point, you have the right to dispute the information listed with Early Warning Services. There are no fees for filing a dispute or for investigating the contested information. You will want to take the following steps:

  • Complete your dispute in writing by providing your Consumer ID number found on the first page of your consumer report with EWS.
  • Write out a description of the specific information that is incorrect such as routing, account, and reference numbers.
  • Write out a detailed description of why you believe the information is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Attach copies of documentation supporting your dispute.

You can mail, fax, or electronically send your form through the EWS portal.

  • By mail: Early Warning, Attn: Consumer Services 16552 N. 90th Street Scottsdale, Arizona 85260.
  • By fax: (480) 656 – 6850
  • Electronically: Visit transfer portal by going to www.consumerservices.earlywarning.com. When prompted for the Early Warning Services email address, enter consumerservices@earlywarning.com. You will then follow the instructions to create your user ID and password and upload your documents.

After your dispute is received, Early Warning Services will submit it to the financial institution that applies and wait for a response from them. After receiving the response, EWS will review all the information related to your dispute and make a decision by either removing, updating, or retaining the information on your report. Your outcome will be sent to you in writing within 5 business days from the completion of the dispute. EWS is allowed 30 days to complete the investigation.

You may also like: Bank of America ChexSystems

Sometimes the Early Warning Services investigation does not result in the outcome you needed to get back on track financially. You have the right to submit a statement for your EWS record explaining your disagreement as long as you do not include the names of individuals, businesses, or use profanity. You can send it by mail, fax, or secure online upload per the information provided above.

Upon written request, you are also entitled to receive a description of the EWS investigation process and contact information regarding your dispute. See the full guide on ChexSystem removal and how to open Chexsystems disputes here.

Be Cautious of Scams Regarding EWS

There is an abundance of scams out there looking to steal your personal information and your hard-earned money. Be cautious when it comes to scams regarding credit repair, debt collection, and agencies claiming to be Early Warning Services or acting on their behalf.

  • EWS states that they will never charge a fee for a consumer report, to investigate a dispute, or remove inaccurate information from your report. So if you find a company online or someone calls you that will give you your report for a fee, avoid them.
  • Use extreme caution when considering a credit repair company. These companies claim that they can repair your credit and a lot of times for a hefty fee. Look at taking steps to improve your credit score and history on your own first. Many state laws and the Credit Repair Organization Act prohibit these companies from misrepresenting what they can do for you and for charging fees before services are completed.
  • Early Warning Services does not collect debts on behalf of creditors or debt collection companies. If you are contacted by a company claiming to be collecting debts on behalf of EWS, they are most likely scamming you and not legitimate.

Learn more about Credit Repair scams here and debt collection scams here.

Prevent Identity Theft

Taking part in scams could result in identity theft, so it is vitally important that you have prevention measures in place. First, many government resources help educate the public on identifying scams, preventing identity theft, and what to do if you become a victim. It is also a great idea to have identity theft protection in place so that your information can be monitored and spotted immediately if being used to open credit accounts, and more. Here are some resources:

  • dhttp://www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore/
  • dhttps://www.identitytheft.gov/
  • dhttps://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/identity-theft
  • dhttp://www.onguardonline.gov/
  • dhttp://www.idtheftcenter.org/
  • dhttps://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201410_cfpb_summary_remedying-the-effects-of-id-theft-fcra.pdf

Look for Banks That Don’t Use Early Warning Services

While being in ChexSystems or EWS can limit or stop your ability to open a checking account anywhere you wish to bank, there are still options for you to have a bank account. Many second chance banks don’t use ChexSystems, non-EWS banks, and credit unions. Here is a list of banks that don’t use these consumer reporting agencies.

Chime Bank

Chime Bank is an online-based bank that offers a second chance Spending account with a free debit card to anybody, even if you have poor credit and are in ChexSystems or EWS. They are known for their excellent customer service and award-winning mobile app. To set themselves apart, they strive to avoid charging any fees on your account. Features include:

  • No hidden fees, no minimum balance, requirements, or opening deposits
  • Get paid up 2 days early with a direct deposit. As soon as Chime is notified of the incoming deposit, they won’t wait to deposit your money into your account.
  • Their award-winning mobile banking app allows you to manage all of your banking needs on the go, including tracking account balances, daily transactions, and savings. Also, manage your account online.
  • Receive notifications on your phone any time you use your VISA debit card.
  • Easily send money to friends using their “Pay Friends” feature on the mobile app.
  • If you lose your debit card, a replacement is free.
  • Access 38,000 + ATMs for free
  • Enrollment in a savings account and automatically grow your savings by transferring the cents difference on every transaction and a portion of each direct deposit
  • You can shut off your debit card if you lose it or you are suspecting unauthorized use on your account

Varo Bank

Varo Bank is an online-based bank that offers a second chance checking account for all of your banking needs. There is no need to have good credit or have a clean record with ChexSystems or EWS. It is fast and easy to apply for an account. You will also open a high-interest rate savings account to help you reach your goals faster. Features include:

  • No monthly fees, opening deposit or minimum balance requirements
  • Pay no fees at over 55,000+ ATMs
  • If you lose your debit card, a replacement is free
  • To transfer money between Varo accounts is seamless and instant with the mobile app and online banking.
  • Receive your direct deposits up to 2 days early, as soon as Varo knows about the money, it will be deposited
  • Have the ability to instantly shut off your debit card if needed with the mobile app due to it being lost or unauthorized use
  • Connect your debit card to online and mobile pay services such as pay-pal, apple pay, and google pay
  • Receive notifications on your phone anytime your balance changes when receiving a direct deposit, or a withdrawal occurs.
  • Have the ability to deposit cash into your account at over 90,000+ participating retail locations; fees may apply when depositing money.
  • Be allowed to overdraft by $50 once you meet the requirements of 5 debit card purchases each month and receive a direct deposit of $1,000 in the same month. At this point, you can turn on the “No fee overdraft” feature in the mobile app. You will also be allowed to repay the overdraft with your direct deposit within 30 days.

SoFi

SoFi offers an online-based second chance account called SoFi money for all your banking needs. A high-interest savings account is including in this package when conditions apply. You don’t have to worry about having a perfect banking or EWS record when it comes to applying for an account. Features include:

  • No account or monthly fees
  • Pay no fees at their network of over 55,000+ ATMs
  • Earn cashback rewards when you spend with your debit card and have a recurring monthly direct deposit of $500
  • Earn a high-interest rate with your savings account with a recurring monthly direct deposit of $500
  • Signing up for SoFi money is quick and easy, takes about 60 seconds
  • Take advantage of the mobile app to complete transfers, deposit checks, accessing customer service, and more.
  • Be able to have more than one person on your account.
  • Take advantage of cash management features to help you reach your savings goals.
  • Be able to send money from the app to anyone, and if they have SoFi money, they will receive it instantly.
  • As a member, you have access to many benefits regarding financial advice and discounts, career coaching as well as access to exclusive community features.

GoBank

GoBank is an online-based second chance account affiliated with Green Dot Corporation. They offer a variety of features for all you need to know to help you bank efficiently. You can open the account by picking up a GoBank starter kit at a participating retailer for $20. Or you can apply online or on your smartphone app. If you have a weak EWS report or a ChexSystems score, you can still be eligible. Features include:

  • Free ATM access when you use one in their network, otherwise the out of network fee is $3.00
  • Receive your direct deposit as soon as GoBank is notified of the deposit, up to 2 days early
  • Deposit cash at over 100,000 participating retailers nationwide. The fee for depositing money is $4.95.
  • Use the online website or mobile app to pay your bills.
  • Send or receive money instantly when your friends or family use the GoBank app as well.
  • Be eligible to pay anyone with personal checks.
  • Use the mobile app to deposit checks.
  • Move money into a “money vault” to stash away from your regular account for safekeeping for emergencies or big purchases.
  • Build a budget on the mobile app, and receive alerts, use the “Fortune Teller” feature to check your budget, balance, and purchases to help you stay on track.
  • The monthly fee is $8.95 per month but can be waived when you make a qualifying direct deposit of $500 in your account every month.

Acorns

Acorns is an online-based account that offers a variety of services related to saving, retirement, and investing while proving a spending account with a debit card. They strive to give their members easy access to conduct financial transactions while being the only checking account that will instantly save and invest your money as you use your debit card. You can read about online checking accounts with no ChexSystems here. Your EWS report or ChexSystems report shouldn’t affect your ability to apply for a spending account with Acorns. Features include:

  • Pay a $3 monthly fee for a single account or a $5 monthly charge for a family account
  • Receive a debit card designed tough with Tungsten non-radioactive metal material
  • Instantly save for retirement and invest your money by rounding up transactions and depositing the differences
  • Access your account online or with the mobile app to make transfers to other banks, deposit checks, and bill pay
  • There are no overdraft or minimum balance fees and access 55,000 + free AMTS nationwide
  • Earn more money with investing and with 10% invested in you by visiting local places
  • Quickly lock your card with the mobile app if lost or you notice unauthorized use