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Regaining Control, Overcoming the Bank Account Challenge

Issue 33

Regaining financial control over one’s life is an important part of the recovery journey. However, people in recovery can have a difficult time getting a new checking or savings account with a financial institution due to poor money management habits from the past.

One of the first steps to financial recovery is opening a new checking or savings account. But this can be easier said than done. Before someone can open a new account, many financial institutions will assess a person’s risk by running their name and social security number through a credit reporting agency database, like ChexSystems or Early Warning Services.

Eighty percent of banks or credit unions use these systems to screen applicants for checking and savings accounts. These systems track activities related to closed checking, savings, and other deposit accounts. If a person owes money to a financial institution, they may be denied a new account. This makes it hard for someone to get a fresh start toward rebuilding their financial lives.

If you’ve been denied a bank account because of your ChexSystems report, it’s a good idea to get a copy and address potential concerns. Go to In the meantime, look for a bank or credit union that offers “second chance” accounts or doesn’t use ChexSystems or Early Warning Services to decide if you are a “risk” for a new account.

Opening a bank account is a better option than using costly payday lenders, check-cashing services, or prepaid debit cards where you may be charged usage fees or high interest.

Benefits include:

Save on Check-Cashing Fees

Save money over time by not using check-cashing services. For example, Walmart charges $4 for cashing checks up to $1,000.

Avoid Prepaid Debit Card Fees

Steer clear of the many fees that often come with prepaid debit cards, including monthly fees, reload fees, and ATM withdrawal fees.

Keep Your Money Safe

Enjoy having a safe and convenient place for your cash. Leaving cash around the house could prove dangerous.

Your Money is Insured

Have confidence knowing your money is FDIC-insured and insured by NCUA at a credit union of up to $250,000.

Built-In Fraud Protection

Purchases made with bank or credit union debit cards offer zero liability for fraud.

Get to Know Your Bank or Credit Union

Establish a relationship with the people at your financial institution. It is good to have someone to contact when you have financial questions or are looking for a loan.

At Town & Country Federal Credit Union, we believe everyone deserves a second chance, and we do not use any credit reporting agency to decide who can open an account.

If someone has a valid form of identification, meets membership eligibility, and joins the credit union, they will be able to open a new checking or savings account under most circumstances.

To learn more, visit or contact us at

Linda Halleran
Linda Halleran
Linda Halleran is the Community Engagement Manager for Town & Country Federal Credit Union and coordinates the credit union’s community involvement efforts across Southern Maine.

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