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Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies: Chexsystems, Certegy Check Systems and Telecheck

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This is the second installment of my series on specialty consumer reporting agencies and how to request your free file disclosure every year. You can read the first installment here.

Bounced checks or account overdrafts typically don’t appear on standard credit reports unless the balance has been turned over to an outside collection agency. But before a financial institution opens a new account for a prospective customer it wants to know that the person hasn’t had problems handling accounts elsewhere, or worse, is trying to commit fraud. Retailers also want to avoid bounced and fraudulent checks.  That’s where these specialty agencies come in. They collect and report information about mishandled checking and savings accounts.


Chex Systems, Inc. collects information from member financial institutions and shares it with them to “help them assess the risk of opening new accounts.” A Chex Systems report can include personal identifying information, negative information such as checks returned for non-sufficient funds (NSF), inquiries into the file by financial institutions or the consumer, a history of checks ordered, and information about checks bounced at retailers as reported by Certegy Check Services, Inc. (see below). Chexsystems only maintains negative information for five years.

Certegy Check Systems Inc.

Certegy describes itself as “a check risk management company that provides verification, guarantee and risk analytics to thousands of businesses that choose to accept checks as a form of payment for goods or services. “ In other words, merchants use their service to help them decide whether to accept individual checks.

Certegy doesn’t make the actual decision of whether to accept or reject a check. That’s left to the merchant. But they do help the merchant make that decision. If you have had a merchant who uses Certegy decline a check, the company recommends you complete and submit a Certegy Gold Application. It’s free, and allows them to assess additional information not provided with your original check transaction. Certegy says the Gold Application can help consumers avoid most check declines. The form is available at Askcertegy.com.

In addition to a free annual file disclosure, Certegy offers a free declined check lookup service on its website.

[Resource: What You Need to Know About Bounced Checks.]


TeleCheck describes itself as an industry leader in “check acceptance, check processing and risk analytics services to thousands of retailers and financial institutions.” It offers a service called TeleCheck Electronic Check Acceptance® that authorizes check transactions and converts paper checks into electronic items at the point of sale. If you’ve ever made a check purchase where you paid by check but were given an electronic receipt of the transaction to sign, then you have seen this system in action.

Telecheck will analyze a transaction against its database of bank and checking account information, and use risk-based decisioning tools to alert merchants to potential fraud before they accept individual checks. You can think of it as similar to the way creditors use credit scores but Telecheck doesn’t check standard credit reports or scores to make decisions. It also doesn’t check the balance in an account when a check is presented. If risk factors are identified, it is possible for a check to be labeled as risky even if the account holder has never bounced a check before.

To review your reports:

You are entitled to a free copy of your report though these nationwide consumer reporting agencies every year. Note that if you aren’t in their systems, they won’t be able to supply you with a report.

Chexsytems:  1.800.428.9623, or ConsumerDebit.com

Certegy Check Systems Inc.: 1-866-543-6315 or AskCertegy.com

Telecheck/FirstData: 1-800-366-2425 or FirstData.com

Next week: In the third installment in this series I’ll explain how to get copies of insurance scores and reports.

To read the full series on Specialty Consumer Reports, you can find them all right here at Credit.com:

Part I : Introduction
Part II: Checking History Reports
Part III: Insurance Reports
Part IV: Employment Reports
Part V: Medical Reports
Part VI: Tenant / Rental History Reports

Image by oblivion9999, Flickr

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  • delilah sanderville

    I just pulled my chexsystems report and found aa item on if for $50.00 to ARJAYDATA. I don’t reconize that as a place where I used a check and so need to find out who exactly the check was made out to. Also, I just recevied a a full bankruptcy discharge and it was my understanding that checks written and reported prior to that date were included in my bankruptcy. Please let me know if you can help me as it is very hard to call you and actually get to talk to someone
    THank you

    • Gerri Detweiler


      While the bankruptcy may wipe our your liability for the debts that were discharged, it doesn’t clear them off your credit reports/consumer reports. Arjaydata is a check clearing company that offers check verification services for merchants. It sounds like they authorized a check for a merchant and it bounced, so they became the “creditor” so to speak. You’re going to need to talk with them to find out where the check bounced and if you believe that was accurate. I am sorry but even if we wanted to help, they wouldn’t talk with us about your bounced check due to privacy regulations.

  • JS

    WalMart just declined to cash my JP Morgan Chase administered payroll check from a major international petroleum company apparently based on advice from Certegy. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve been subjected to all year, possibly several. Of course, I could avoid this sort of thing in the future by selling my soul to Certegy. Anybody that tells you these “services” are anything but the twenty-first century equivalent to highway robbery are on the take. At least highway robbers had the decency to face their victims.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      So what did you do JS? Did you have to find a Chase Bank branch to cash it?

  • Abby B

    If I am reported to Certegy, couldn’t I just open a new checking account to be able to write checks again? Or do they verify my info a different way then the checking account number?

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      That’s the thing Abby – they will search by your personal information not just your previous checking account number. It’s a consumer report so it will report on your activity, not your accounts.

  • Neal

    Certegy declined my payroll check!! Called them and they said it ha something to do with my company and not me!! Anyone ever have this problem??

    • Gerri Detweiler

      What do they mean by your company? Your employer or a business you own? Have you learned what happened?

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