Keeping ‘em in Check

Write checks at the store? You’ll want to read this.

One of the nation’s largest check authorization services — Certegy Check Services, Inc. — has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle FTC charges that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Why is this newsworthy? Because many businesses use Certegy’s recommendations to decide whether to accept your checks or deny them. Certegy makes these recommendations based partly on information in their files on your check-writing and financial history. If the information in your file is inaccurate, a business could end up denying your check unnecessarily. That’s not good, especially if you’re turned away when paying for basic necessities — like groceries — and you have the money in the bank to cover your check.

The FTC charged that Certegy’s inadequate job of resolving consumers’ disputes led to inaccuracies, and may have resulted in their checks being denied unnecessarily. The FTC also alleged that Certegy didn’t have a streamlined process for people to get the free copy of their report from Certegy that they’re entitled to once a year. This settlement requires Certegy to improve in these areas.

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. Note that your report from Certegy will have information only on the checks you’ve written to businesses that use Certegy’s services. 

The law also entitles you to a free copy of your credit report every year from nationwide credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Reviewing your reports for inaccuracies is a good idea — as is disputing errors in a timely way. Check out this video to learn more.

 

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I teach financial literacy classes to students, and would love to use your short video, "Check Your Credit Report" in my presentations. I don't always have access to the Internet. Can I get to a link that would give me a downloadable version?
Kathryn

Hi, Kathryn,

All of the videos and games in our media center are available to use, download, embed and share. We're glad you find them useful!

To download the Check Your Credit Report video, go to its webpage. Underneath the video, you'll see three tabs. Click on "Download." There will be several different file options that you can save and use later. I hope that helps!

I had a recent transaction declined by Certegy and they have declined my request for my FCRA report/file per their website at the ASK Certegy link. Which option should I select on your website to report this? https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-7

Hi, TallyGirl22,

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now accepts complaints about credit reporting agencies (like Certegy), and can help you resolve the issue. You can file a complaint at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

Certegy is still up to there same old tricks,how can a company that is used to prevent fraud get away with fraud itself? And they wonder why people are upset with them when they've already hung up on you 5x trying to resolve an issue? I can't wait until they shut this fraudulent company down!

Certegy declined cashing a typed check made out to me. Is it legal for them to use credit history to decline cashing a check made out to me? I tried 2 different places, not knowing the second place used Certegy and was told the same thing both times. How can this be legal for them to decide if they are going to cash a check made out to me using my credit report?

My credit report is "very good" and Certegy, despite the $3 MIL lawsuit they had, is still haunting me at the stores to this day!!! I go back to my bank every time and nothing is wrong with my accounts, at least for now, anyway! This is so disturbing! Now I heard they are selling our information to countries like Nigeria! Isn't there something the Government can do to shut them down??? They have been haunting me for 5 years starting at Macy's who no longer use Certegy. When I called Certegy 5 years ago, they told me they had no way to tell how much I had in my bank account. Then how do they know to tell the retailer that my check or debit card should be declined? They are treating us good people like puppets whether we can spend our money or not. Where are our rights???

As a merchant who uses Certegy's check warranty service, I was just informed by them, that they are accessing a one time $100 fee, due to increased regulation and compliance costs. I'm guessing they're passing your $3.5 million fine onto their merchants. There's probably nothing I can do about it, other than look for another company to verify my checks, but I wish part of your fine would have been to stipulate that it could in no way be passed through to their customers. As it stands your fining Certegy's customers and not Certegy. It's just not right.

I have a hard time feeling sorry for merchants using Certegy that are being "unfairly" passed this charge. As a customer of local grocery store that I spent over $1K/month at, have written HONORED checks to for years, and have no back checks hanging over me, who can not write checks for groceries there anymore because I don't meet the Criteria for checks (no matter how many times Certegy puts me on their "VIP" list) - I feel merchants who continue to use this vendor to turn away law-abiding, PAYING customers, deserve what they get. I intend to spend my considerable work purchase budget and personal grocery budget at vendors who do not use Certegy and boycott stores that do.

Certegy made a False Complaint about me to my oounty's District Attorney, saying the check had been NSF. However my Bank statement shows no such NSF check, and that I never wrote any NSF Check. Further the check (they claim and provided copy of) was not written to Certegy yet they claim right to collect on it. After I sent proof the check was not NSF by my bank and also proof from my bank account that there was more than sufficient funds then, the District Attorney dropped the case. However, I would like to now SUE CERTEGY for Fraud and Defamation and making false complaint against me. Anyone can contact me I am in NY State, aiwal2 @ aol.com Thanks.

Please tell me what my payroll check and getting it cashed- ( denied reason code 2) after the first 2 checks were cashed without issue, Oh and its from the 3rd largest Pipeline construction company in the USA, has to do with my credit history?? Or why these people are not being held accountable as they have not stoped doing what there were suited for...

I just experienced this humiliation from Certegy, when calling, the service is all automated, and hung up, the automation said I was declined not for any negative information, but because of past history check amounts, check number being unusual or locations of checks written being unusual. None of the above apply, the check was in a normal place right across the street from where I live.Further, the automation suggested I join their VIP program, which is clearly a conflict of interest, finding info on their website is difficult, no email, and had to search for a fax number. I will never shop at the store I visited tonight again, and they just lost a sale of over 300 dollars, and a customer for life. I am about done being a capitalist, this is ridiculous to have to beg companies to be paid. May just only shop thrift stores anymore, or garage sales!

For the past month I have not been able to cash my Child Support checks....A GOV. ISSUED CHECK, because of Certegy. It met "guidelines" that lead to being decline and has been declined ever since. A week before this (about 3 weeks ago) I cashed a CS check AND payroll check just fine. I don't have a bank and use mostly cash for reasons...now I can't even get the money I need to raise my autistic child because this company has deemed a govmnt check as bad!!! This needs to be fixed and Certegy shut down, the company is charging their customers for a service that makes no money for the company (IE Walmart) using their service. SHUT THEM DOWN!

Tried to pay for $70 purchase at Dollar General store in NY and my personal check was declined because for the check series, $ amount and other transaction details per their askcertegy.com website. Took slip to my bank branch manager who stated that he could verify there were funds to cover the check but that I would have to deal with Certegy. By the looks of the complaints and prior issues with this company it should be shut down!!!

I tried to cash a check at Wal-Mart and received a reason code 2. Called Certegy and got the run around about what a reason code 2 was. They refused to give me a straight answer as if they didn't know themselves. How can you force them to give you a descriptive reason for not cashing a payroll check?

I was purchasing a product at academy sport in Ft Worth and ask do you accept checks. Response was yes we do. Got in line wrote the check for 638.32 dollars. 2.2 seconds the check was denied . I was given a phone number to call spoke with a non English speaking person and told to call back in an hour. when I tried to tell her that I was 70 miles from home her basic response was to read from the script. hung up and called back and was told that there system was updating and to call back in hour and a half. Called the next day three times. I never received a reason. Wrote a letter demanding my "FILE". I am hack at this time and would be interested if there in an online petition to shut this company down?
This also happened at Wal-Mart in Stephenville with Telecheck

If your check was declined, it might be because a consumer reporting agency gave the retailer negative information about your credit history – including your checking account history – or indicated that you could be a bad credit risk for other reasons.

If your check is declined, ask the retailer to give you the contact information for the reporting agency. Then ask the agency why your check was declined. Also ask for a copy of your annual credit report, free of charge

When you get your credit report, check it and see if there are any errors. If there are, dispute those errors as soon as possible.

For the third time I have had a check declined solely based on Certegy. The first two times I was in a hurry and used a credit card. Both had been on a weekend night. I intended to take the issue up with my banker but by Monday I was too busy and forgot about it. The most recent episode occurred mid afternoon on Thursday at lens Crafters. This time I had time to kill waiting on my glasses to be finished. I took the (dis)information card supplied by certegy and followed the instructions to little avail. The automated response gave no intelligent or useful information. Three times I followed the directions to reach a human. Each time I was cut off. I then bypassed the charade that they provided. I did some research on the internet and found a working phone number. I wasted several minutes talking with an uneducated first line operator. At my insistence she connected me to her supervisor. This person went by the first name of Evedney. She spoken English poorly with a thick foreign accent. Her contention was that my check was rejected based on a computer analysis. She refused to tell me any data or personal characteristics that were used for their analysis. She did offer me a preferred status If I would furnish in depth personally identifying information. By this time I was well aware that I was dealing with a disreputable organization. I declined that offer. Instead I have engaged the services of an attorney. He has only begun to work on the case, but among other courses of action to take he plans the following. First have a fact finding conversation with Certegy's legal Dept. Second lodge a formal complaint with the FTC and demand an investigation. This will have the 2013 proceedings as a backdrop. Third he will contact the legal department at Lens Crafters and have them explain the rejection of a bone fide monetary instrument. Depending on the course the FTC pursues this may become a class action suit. If you have a similar experience with this company talk to a lawyer.

Would love to hear a follow up on the results. If you look up the 2013 FTC case documents, it states they are not allowed to ask for more information than is necessary for identification. Looks to me like they're asking us to hand over access to our bank accounts and ID's, and SSN's, enough for an identity theft. They do sell information, you know?
After reading so many complaints that sound so much alike; mostly good, upstanding, honest people with good credit. My guess is thatCertegy wants people to sign up for their promotion (which is also a scam since they still deny checks for people who sign up) or request credit reports so that Certegy is actually using it as a scheme to collect personal information that they can sell for profit.
Could they get any more scummy? They convince well known, trusted businesses that they're selling check fraud protection when they are really looking for credit/personal/finance information from their best customers. Like leading lambs to the slaughter.
Best thing to do is revoke their incorporation charter to put them out of business and throw the whole C-Suite (as in CEO, COO, CFO etc) in jail for massive fraud and RICO conspiracy to commit fraud.

Tried to cash state unemployment check got declined ....said series...what does that mean?

I DID contact the FTC website and filed a complaint on-line regarding Certegy. I DID NOT even know about this corp/service,whatever until this past Wed., July 14, 2015. I am 63 yr's of age so writing checks for a long time for all kinds of various places and never had a problem prior to the one on Wed. When unaware, I went to a sporting goods store that uses Certegy. I got flagged for a code "2", which i had no idea what the heck it was at the time. Hey, I knew I had sufficient funds in my checking account and the bank that issued my checks was just right across the street, so I told the manager to hold my merchandise and I went over to the bank and wrote a check for CASH "over" the amount I needed to pay for the item being held for me. When I plunked down my CASH on the sales desk I told the manager, "They KNOW me over there"...meaning the Bank teller did. He just handed me a Certegy card and told me to call the number on it. I DID as soon as I got home...same thing as others, I got an automated voice it would tell me at times it could not understand me, got no-where with that so hung up tried several times again only to get the message,"Due to circumstances beyond our control our system is down, call back at a later date." I finally did some research on the web and found a no. that got me through to a"real"person...1-800-237-3826. Frustrating call there too! The female rep told me she would have to put me on hold and "research" it...this was done twice. She could have been discussing it with someone to come up with a reason, as she did not say it was code "2' instead she says it was because of risks and they are protecting the merchant as well as me the consumer, then in the next breath she says she will sign me up for the V.I. P. status, but that they update things so things may change after awhile. In other words folks...take your chances with Certegy, maybe they will let you cash a check...maybe NOT! -RK

Has anyone ever actually been successful paying with a check at a store that uses Certegy?
I tried to pay for a $100 purchase using a business check on an acct that I have over $7000 in and it was denied. Then I tried using a personal check on a checking acct I have had for about 20 years and it was denied. Finally I used a debit card drawn on the same checking account and it was accepted!?!? I am highly ticked off.

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy.

Your report from Certegy will have information only on the checks you wrote to businesses that use Certegy.

This company declined my payroll check due toit not meeting their criteria. When I called and asked, I got no answers about what that criteria is. I will not do business with anyone that uses Certegy, ever again. My family is hungry and I have no means of feeding us until the bank opens on Monday and I can deposit my check. This company should be sued out of exitance for doing this to people for no reason at all.

I just went to cash a $315 check at Walmart that I received for nonpayment of funds from my previous employer and it was denied for Reason 2. I've never been denied the cashing of a check - didn't know that I could be. Does this mean that from now on I'm going to have check cashing problems?

Some businesses use Certegy’s recommendations to decide whether to accept or deny the checks you write. Certegy uses information in their files about your check-writing history and financial history to make recommendations. If the information about you is not accurate, a business might deny your check unnecessarily.

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. Note that your report from Certegy will have information only on the checks you’ve written to businesses that use Certegy’s services.

Tried to cash my IRS refund check at Walmart yesterday. Certegy reason 2 came up. I had to get cash right away, because my bank was closed. Now i have used my bank card for the last 10 years. Not writing any checks. Called them told it was a high risk. Due to having no check history. So how is a IRS tax refund a high risk? Now how can they decline a gov check? Take into account I went to my bank two hours later, and cashed it. No issues what so ever. I ever told my bank about it. They said they have nothing but complaints about this company. So why does our FTC shut them down?

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. If you find errors on the report, contact the company. If the company doesn't resolve your disputes, you can report that to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Bridget, I don't know if your replies are automated somehow or if you have so many posts to read that you are not actually reading them. The person you responded to HASN'T WRITTEN CHECKS FOR YEARS! Like many people, this person uses a debit card. The problem is when WalMart was presented with an IRS tax return check to cash, Certegy, in its infinite stupidity, declined to cash it. Cashing a check should have absolutely nothing to do with one's check writing history!

Like many on here, I haven’t written a check in years. Though I have not tried cashing a tax refund check, I have tried four times to cash paychecks at WalMart. In order of attempts, I was declined, declined, accepted, declined by Certegy. The last two (accepted and declined) were from the same nationwide, well-known company and drawn on the same bank, almost same amount, only one week apart! So what could have happened in seven days to make the second check unworthy? Each decline was reason code 2, which means some extremely complicated and random algorithm made the decision based on moon phase, zodiac sign of the bearer, barometric pressure at the North Pole, God only knows what because the reps at Certegy can't tell you anything other than sign up for some preferred list.

So thank you for your reply, but it is quite out of context.

Lee D:  I am a real person. My replies aren't automated.

As the original blog post says, Certegy makes recommendations about whether to accept a check based partly on information in their files about your check-writing and financial history.  I understand that you haven't written checks for years, and therefore don't have a history of writing checks. Put another way, you have a history of not-writing checks. Nonetheless, your history related to check writing is a factor that Certegy reviews when it makes a recommendation.

If your check is declined, ask the retailer to give you the contact information for the reporting agency. Then ask the agency why your check was declined.

A person's check might be declined because a consumer reporting agency gave the retailer negative information about a person's credit history – including your checking account history – or indicated that you could be a bad credit risk for other reasons.

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from nationwide credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can review your reports for inaccuracies, and dispute errors in a timely way.

Just tried to cash my IRS refund check at Walmart and the exact same thing happened, never heard of any of this so I had her try again. Declined again, after going back and forth I walked out upset as the bank doesn't open until morning and I don't have but $4 in my pocket. This is ridiculous, looks like no food til morning for me. Smh.

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. If you find errors on the report, contact the company. If the company doesn't resolve your disputes, you can report that to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Same as above - Went to Dillard's to pay for merchandise, had the money in the bank, but check was declined. I wanted to crawl under a display. I immediately called Certegy and was told that it could be any number of factors that could have caused the denial, including the check number. The rep told me to just try the next check in the checkbook because it might be the check number. No thank you...I went ahead and paid using my debit card (on the same account that the check used). I specifically asked the rep if there was something in my history that would prompt the denial, and was told no.

I was never offered a copy of the report that could have caused the denial, and the original rep didn't even want my social to look anything up. All she wanted was the routing, account, check number, and amount. She specifically told me that she couldn't provide the reason the check was denied because each retailer has a proprietary formula they developed with Certegy.

I've been steaming about this for a couple of weeks, and after reading all of the nonsense that this company pulls I'm extremely frustrated that they continue to get away with the nonsense. My credit report is clean and accurate, I verified it today. I also contacted Certegy again, got a different representative in what is obviously a call center, and requested a copy of the information they used to deny my check. It was funny because while they did not want my social previously, they did want it during that phone call.

I wish that the FTC/FCPB would step in. Obviously 3.5 million in damages isn't enough to keep this company from pulling garbage like this over and over again.

My credit rating is excellent, I always have more than enough to pay for the item, and yet my CREDIT CARD was denied and then checks from two different checking accounts were also denied in trying to complete one purchase. If Certegy is supposed to be a check verification company, what are they doing denying a credit card purchase? I just read through all these comments. On some of these, there is a stock answer from Bridget Small of the FTC. The answer does not resolve anything. I am not going to contact Certegy as it obviously does not resolve a problem that never should have happened. I am disappointed in the lack of effective action on the part of the FTC to assist consumers as they should.

I went to Walmart to cash my tax return checks today. My federal check was cashed with no problems. The state check then got declined twice, with a reason code 1. I don't understand how there could be a problem with a check written by the state of Indiana, especially after I had just cashed the federal one with no problem what so ever. I think Certegy definitely needs to be investigated. Sounds suspicious to me. Very suspicious. Why not just have local businesses verify checks through local banks? I think this third party verification scheme is nonsense. It puts consumers personal privacy at risk. Who are these people, and why should they be given the authority to decide whose checks are acceptable?

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. Your report from Certegy will have information only on the checks you wrote to businesses that use Certegy’s services.

Try reading the complaint prior to your candid response.
READ the complaint. Most people aren't writing checks, only trying to cash, payroll or government checks and being declined and are given NO EXPLANATION for the reason!!!
Do your job for crying out loud. Take time and listen to people. Where are your morals?

When you want to cash a personal check or check from another source, a business may use Certegy’s recommendations to decide whether to accept or deny the check.

If you want to know why Certegy made a certain recommendation, you can ask the business or contact Certegy.

If you want to know what information Certegy has about you, visit Ask Certegy.

 

If you work for the FTC and still revert to the company line you may as well be working for Certegy. I did nothing wrong. I just needed $75 in cash to purchase car parts from a yard that doesn't accept credit cards and was about to close, they were waiting for me to return. I have an excellent credit score, my mortgage, credit cards and car loan bills are ALL current, never late. I have lived in my home, 10 miles from store, and shopped at this store for 20 years. My bank is 6 miles further down the road. I've had my cards skimmed three times so I don't use outdoor ATM's and the store only permits $50 cash back from a purchase.
I had a valid picture id drivers license with same address as my check and a sample of my signature. I pulled my Credit report a week before this incident and there's not a negative word on it... So you tell me why I deserved to have my check declined?
Only reason is because they want me to send them my info so they can sell it. Just like in the lawsuit where they sold 11 million of their clients records. Do a little investigation before you spout the company line because honestly, from what you keep repeating you are not credible in this matter! We're tired of being scammed and robbed by the system!

"To Request in Writing:
If you prefer, you may mail your request to us rather than using the automated telephone system. If you write to request, you will need to include your name, address, driver's license number, bank routing and account number and Social Security Number. Send the request for your file disclosure to:"

There is no way I am dumb enough to send my sensitive information to a company like this, and open myself up for potential identity theft. The only other way is to call these horrible robotic people that do everything they can to stall and give you zero concrete answers before they literally hang up on you. There is pretty much no way to prove they are not working to resolve disputes on your file when you cannot get the information from certegy. I thought part of the settlement was that they would make it easy to obtain information and file disputes. So people need to hire lawyers to get certegy to honor their checks? Sounds like a big scam of consumer fraud, where protections no longer matter.

Certegy is now declining u s treasury checks! They are commiting fraud and need to be shut down completely. After cash ssa checks for years at walmart suddenly certegy said it exceeded the limit eventhough a manager told the guy on the phone it did not exceed the limit. First walmart wanted be helpful then they just shut up. How can certegy legaly decline a u s treasury check even if the recipient has bad credit. That has nothing to do with if the u s treasury check is good. SHUT DOWN CERTEGY!

If you write checks often and want your free copy of your report from Certegy, visit Ask Certegy. The report from Certegy will have information about checks you wrote to businesses that use Certegy. 

The law also entitles you to a free copy of your credit report every year from nationwide credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Check your reports for mistakes. You can dispute errors on your credit report that might affect your credit rating.

Do you work for certegy or something because you obviously dont read peoples complaints before you 'reply'? Certegy lied about walmarts gov check cashing limit and walmart still advertises falsely they cash gov checks over $1000 but certegy declines all of them. Shutdown certegy instead quoting thier party line.

No, I don't work for Certegy. I work for the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Suppose a business uses recommendations from Certegy when it decides whether or not to cash your check. If Certegy has mis-information about you, it might advise the business not to cash your check. Certegy says it evaluates information about you. It might look at things like how many checks you have written, or how many checks you have cashed, or how recently you wrote or cashed a check. It might look at your financial history.

That's why I suggested that if you want to know what information Certegy has about you, you could get a free copy of your report from Certegy. Go to Ask Certegy. The report from Certegy will have information about checks you wrote to businesses that use Certegy. 

If you think there could be mis-information in your credit report, and that is affecting your credit score or the decisions a business makes about doing business with you, you an order a free copy of your credit report.  You can get one free copy every 12 months from the nationwide credit reporting agencies. Read through your report. If there are mistakes, you can can dispute errors.

If you think Walmart is not providing the service that it advertised, you can report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

Don't you realize that Certegy is a scam? Read their web site. To get a report you have to provide Name, address (ok) but also, bank routing number, bank account number, drivers license number, social security number. No one should ever have to provide that kind of information to Certegy. They sell the information we provide. That's like handing over the keys to your house because what they have is enough for Identity theft. Read the account of the law suit from 2013. If you dispute their actions they are then permitted access to your entire credit record to prove their case, or steal your info to sell. Anyway you look at it, I believe Certegy, and others like it, are bottom feeding scum trying to steal what little we have left after the banks trashed our economy and gave it to the 1%. Just my opinion but I believe it's shared with many others who have had to deal with the vultures in the financial world.

Went to Walmart in West Des Moines, IA to cash a US Treasury check. Certegy declined it with reason code 2. When I called to ask why they declined a US Treasury check, they stated that I don't cash enough checks at Walmart. The reason I don't cash checks at Walmart or anywhere else is, I have a checking account with a debit card. The only reason I went to Walmart to cash the check was because my bank was closed for the day. Certegy is a fraudulent company and needs to be shut down.

Wrote a check to Academy 4 months ago for a 400 ice chest. They used Certegy as well. Academy somehow was able to run the same check through 3 times and get the funds for two of those times...using Certegy as a authorizer. For whatever reason, the third run-through sent the info back as insufficient funds. Wrote a check to Academy a week ago...declined. To Cabellas two days ago...declined. Finally got through to a real person a Certegy who explained to me that the reason for the checks being declined were...that I had passed a bad check at Academy. So...in a nutshell Bought ice chest...charged twice for it...punished and reported to credit bureau for not paying for it a third time...can't pay my employees...AND...as a final kick in the groin...got kicked out of Academy for getting frustrated with the manager after waiting four hours in the store for him to finally come out of his glass enclosure to tell me to..."call Certegy...we can only do so much in-store"!!! I have never felt this helpless...have no idea who to turn to. Wish there was a news outlet that would take Certegy on.

Please repor this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

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