Recently I pulled my credit report to do a review of my finances. All was fine except for one thing: a late payment from 2009. I didn’t recall ever opening a credit card with this bank, so I immediately called them to ask what was up.
Turns out, my old checking account opened a line of credit when I overdrafted, which was then reported to the credit bureaus. That made sense. But what didn’t make sense to me was why the bank had held onto my information. Not only could the bank rep I spoke with see data on my swipes at Duane Reade, he knew of my penchant for late-afternoon Starbucks. Did they need to know I ordered a soy iced chai latte in 2009?
Nessa Feddis, senior vice president of the American Bankers Association, offered some insight. Though she’s “not aware of any specific statutory requirements” for banks to hold onto account information, she said, other limitations may come into play.
“A bank would need to be able to have their records in order to investigate a dispute,” she said, and “similarly, a customer may need records if the IRS was investigating tax returns.” Think things like proof of payment and other transactions. Again, “there is no rule, but other laws, like the Fair Credit Reporting Act, make having the information important.”
A cursory search online found several banks hold onto information for about seven years. TD Bank, for instance, said they “retain seven years of account history in our records.” And on the Help Center section of its site, Chase says customers enrolled in paperless statements can view up to six years of statement history online for credit card accounts and up to seven years of statement history online for checking, savings and auto finance accounts.
You may not need to access several years of bank account information right now, but it doesn’t hurt to know the material is out there if you need it. In the meantime, as you strive to manage your finances and build credit the smart way, you can get a sense of where they stand by viewing a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.
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Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund
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