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New Proof of Identity Required When Opening Accounts
Don't be surprised if the next time you open a deposit, loan or other account at a bank or other financial institution you have to spend additional time proving your identity. That's because the U.S. Treasury Department and federal financial regulatory agencies (including the FDIC) have jointly issued new rules for customer identification that implement the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, a law intended to help fight terrorism.
Under the rules, which became mandatory October 1, 2003, financial institutions generally are required to ask each customer for their name, address, date of birth and tax identification number (usually a Social Security number) when opening a new account. Foreign nationals without a U.S. taxpayer ID number could provide a similar government-issued identification number, such as a passport number.
You also will be asked to provide documentation, such as a driver's license or passport, "so the financial institution can verify that you are who you say you are," says Karen Currie, an FDIC fraud investigator and anti-money laundering specialist. The institution also can verify your identity through alternate methods, such as your credit report from a credit bureau. Identification procedures may vary depending upon the type of account you are opening and the policies of your financial institution. For example, some institutions may require you to provide copies of certain documents through the mail if you are not opening an account in person. Finally, the financial institution must check if your name appears on any list of suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations.
"These new procedures are designed to prevent money laundering and other crimes, such as identity theft and account fraud that terrorists commit to fund their operations," Currie adds. "We know you're usually in a hurry to fill out all the paperwork and to complete your financial transactions, but with such an important requirement designed to protect the public, your patience is greatly appreciated.
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