Many people believe that banks and credit unions alike use chexsystems, and this is sometimes the case. However, this is not always the case, and while many credit unions and banks do use chexsystems, there are those that do not as well.
So, what does this mean to you? Well, if you have had trouble maintaining your bank account and have found yourself reported to chexsystems, then you might have found that the trouble has followed you. Chexsystems is a system in which banks can report people (sort of like a bank account version of a credit score) who fail to pay fees, who overdraw, who cannot keep track of their account, etc.
This is how a lot of banks and credit unions check to see your track record as far as your bank account is concerned. In fact, a lot of credit unions might tell you that they are required to check your chexsystems background due to the Patriot Act. This is not necessarily the case, though. The Patriot Act has spurred nearly all banks to use chexsystems, but does not necessarily require these banks to do so.
The chexsystem is a database that banks will use to determine which clients can open a bank account. If you are reported to this database it will remain on this record for a period of five years. This may not allow you to open up an account with any other bank for this period of time. Altough, if you were reported for a negative balance that you happened to pay off, some banks will not hold this against you.
As a result, there are banks and credit unions alike who either do not check your chexsystems score, or that take you in for a second chance even if you have had a rough history. There are even banks that offer a sort of course and second chance program, and if you complete it you are awarded with a certificate for a probationary bank account. This is a way that some people can get back on track with their bank account reputation without getting slammed with huge fees.