Why Do Banks Ask for ID?
Every day the United Bank Team strives to achieve excellence with respect to our customers, particularly when it comes to providing the kind of exceptional customer service and first-class banking experience you expect and deserve.
One of the most frequently asked questions and a source of some customer frustration is “Why do you always ask for ID every time I come into your branch?” We hear this question a lot from longtime United Bank customers who are on a first name basis with branch employees they’ve banked with for many years.
It’s a good question that is not exclusive to United Bank. So to get some industry insight and more background on why United Bank “asks”, we reached out to Brian Pattyson, our Vice President and Bank Secrecy Act/Fraud Officer, to answer that common question.
Here’s why all banks ask customers for their ID regardless of how well our branch staff knows them:
- After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, which is designed to enhance our country’s security again terrorism. Among other regulations, the USA PATRIOT Act strengthened the “Know Your Customer" provision, which is the process of a business verifying the identity of its customers to ultimately prevent identity theft, financial fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.
- The Customer Identification Program (CIP) is where financial institutions like United Bank are required to obtain, verify and maintain current information on individuals conducting financial transactions with the Bank. This includes legal name, date of birth, physical street address and a government issued identification number, typically your Social Security number or tax identification number. The CIP is intended to enable the branch staff to form a reasonable belief that we know the true identity of each of our customers.
- In addition to verifying your information, our employees must build a strong understanding of our customers’ banking habits so when you want to conduct a transaction that is out of the ordinary or the purpose of the transaction is unclear, we can ensure there’s no unusual or fraudulent activity happening on your account.
- We’ll ask for your ID when you conduct transactions such as address changes, ordering checks or a debit card, requesting a cashier’s check – many of the common banking transactions identity thieves would try to take over your account or establish a new one under your name. Unfortunately, if you do not or cannot provide us with the required information, we are prohibited from completing the financial transaction.
- Due to staff turnover in the branches that sometimes occurs, a new branch employee might be still getting acclimated to the job and just beginning to build new relationships with customers. Therefore, they may not know you by name yet.
Rest assured, any information we collect from you is always safe and secure. Our efforts to “get to know” our customers and their banking activity applies to all customers – regardless of whether you’ve banked with us for 20 years or 2 months. So although it can be sometimes frustrating, please do not look at it as an inconvenience but rather our way of protecting your money and identity when you bank with United.