EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m on an annual blogging vacation for the last two weeks of the year. To make sure you still have content, some of the smartest members of the community have stepped up with guest posts in my absence. Special thanks to today’s author, the always helpful and funny SideShowBob233, for writing this post while I’m on vacation. I’ll see you on January 1!

EWS, or Early Warning Systems LLC, is a credit reporting agency co-owned by some of our favorite banks: Bank of America, Truist, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.  I used to think of them as similar to ChexSystems (which anyone who’s been denied a bank account before knows and thoroughly loves in a non-platonic way) but they’re actually less similar to ChexSystems and more like a colonoscopy for your bank accounts, but without anesthesia (or a lollipop at the end).  You can request your consumer EWS report once a year using instructions here.  Once you send them the request they will email you within a few weeks, or tell you they will mail it to you.  It’s quite eye opening, I liken it to opening your trunk and finding 69,420 Airtags inside.  And remember after you request it what the late Tom Petty said (no not Here Comes My Girl – what is wrong with you anyway – the waiting is the hardest part).

Once the suspense has been lifted and EWS has deigned to give you your report the real fun begins.  You’ll get a nice report (164 pages in my case) full of every single freaking thing you’ve done in nearly every bank account you own (some bank accounts do not report to EWS thankfully, but most do).  You will see:

  • Every check written on every account
  • Every ACH transfer made (with destination shown for many of them)
  • Daily bank balances for a few months (and monthly for a few years) for some banks
  • Accounts you closed within the last 3-4 years
  • Accounts you opened in the last 3-4 years
  • Tears streaming down your face when you see how much info about you in tracked
  • In my case a rake between the eyes

In short, it’s an all you can eat buffet of tracking information for a bank that wants to see if you are a churner or not.  Or a money launderer.  Or if you have a strange sexual fetish that involves sending ACH transfers back and forth.   Regardless of the actual reason for the transfers, any bank looking at this kind of thing is not going to be happy.  Now some may shrug, some may open four new bank accounts without telling you (Wells Fargo is a co-owner after all) but some will see the kind of transfers a heavy MSer does and will kick you to the curb.   It’s not a coincidence that about a week before my shutdown letters from Chase arrived, they pulled my report twice.

Well that’s great SideShowBob233 you say (with the heavy emphasis on the “2” in “233” because you’re a bit psycho sometimes – don’t blame the messenger) but what the hell can I do about this? It’s not like you’re going back to your old second job waxing those wrestler’s backs – so is there any hope?   Yes, yes there is. 

You may note on your report that some bank accounts do not show up.  Your first step (after cleaning up the waxed back hair from the wrestlers – I can’t believe you left that on your floor since you quit 3 years ago and starting MSing) is noting all the accounts that DO NOT show on EWS.  Some credit unions do not report to EWS, but some do.  However zero business bank accounts showed on my report, and I’m willing to bet 69% of that back hair you just cleaned up that none will show on your report either.   So you want to move your transfers to business checking accounts whenever possible, as those will not be tracked.  Business checking accounts especially have an added advantage that banks generally do not care how you use them or how much money you run through them (not counting money orders – sooner or later those get noticed and you get shutdown). 

Don’t take my word for it – try it.  I’ve had several banks tell me that my transactions look like business activity and that I needed to stop it.  I’ve yet to have a bank tell me that for a business checking for example, although I like to imagine it going something like this:

Bank: SSB233, is that business activity we’re seeing in your business checking account?
SSB233: Why yes it is business activity

Bank: We’d like you to stop the business activity and move it to a business account
SSB233: But it is a business account

Bank: OK our bad, we’ll just charge you this $50 fee, make you come in branch for no reason,  and you’ll be good to go
SSB233: [steps on a rake]

So there you have it, EWS (which also owns Zelle – because who doesn’t want the people who managed to screw up money transfers so badly also holding all their bank data).  Thanks for listening to my rant, and if it doesn’t make sense to you I say go step on a rake. 

Pictured: SideShowBob233’s EWS report smacks him in the face.