Forget trying to get a credit card -- some people can't even open bank accounts. These four people have been denied basic checking accounts, often because past mistakes came back to haunt them.
I was a victim of identity theft last year and had all the money in my accounts taken and new accounts opened in my name.
[The banks] treated me like I was the criminal, even though that was the money I earned and it was taken under their watch. And after [the identity thief] drained my accounts, it caused the accounts to go negative and I got charged lots of fees.
The banks said I owed $1,800 on one account and $1,600 on the other account. So I can't pay my bills or do the things I need to do.
I had a credit union account that had closed because of this, and then two accounts at other banks that asked me to not put more money in the accounts because of the identity theft problem.
But I didn't know the problem was so big that I wouldn't be able to open another account somewhere, until I found out they had all reported my accounts to this company called ChexSystems.
When I tried to open the [checking] account, the person at the bank said they couldn't open an account for me and gave me a piece of paper with a fax number. I saw ChexSystems on it and said 'ChexSystems, what's this?' She said if something goes wrong or something bad happens in an account, it goes there -- it's basically a credit report for checks.
Finally, Wells Fargo helped me out. They said for people in my situation they offer a second chance account, where they monitor your account activity for a while and then move you to a regular account.