“I’ve lived in Osakis and been a customer for decades. My grandparents and parents were customers. The bank employees know me. Why are they asking me all these questions?”
The simple (and unpopular) answer is that it’s required by policy and regulatory changes. Unfortunately, the days of banking with just a handshake are gone. We, as employees, don’t like the changes any more than you do. We’d much rather ask how your vacation was, how college plans are coming along, talk about Amanda’s rock collection, or cuddle with one of those cute puppies you brought in. Having to ask our customers for their personal information can seem so invasive. And yet we aren’t bothered when the doctor or dentist office asks us for the same. It just seems like it should be different at your hometown bank.
So, can there really be any good coming out of this information exchange? Absolutely! Let me try to offer a customer-driven perspective on a few items we’ve been updating.
- TIN: TIN is a generic term for Tax Identification Number. For individuals, it’s usually their social security number. For businesses, it’s usually an employer identification number. Stated simply, this is your identity. And it’s what connects you to everything you do at our bank from accounts to online banking. If someone were to try to use your TIN to open an account, we have systems in place to help prevent identity theft.
- Current Mailing/Shipping Address: Use of your mailing address is a given. But we also need your physical address. Many of our customers have PO Boxes, which can be used for fraud. A physical address can be matched up with other information to further validate your identity. Fraud through forwarding mail has become a trend recently as well. Our bank has chosen to not allow forwarding of your personal banking information. If it can’t be delivered, it will be returned to us. A quick phone call or visit to update an address, even if it’s temporary, will allow us to still get you the information you need in a timely manner.
- Other identifying information: Basic personal information, unfortunately, can be easy for the bad guys to acquire. We try to use other less public information, so that is why we ask for a few things that may sound out of the norm.
- Email address: We do get emails from customers which sometimes include private information. Having your email on file is an additional way of verifying that the author is you, not someone pretending to be you. Plus, it connects you to online banking and allows you to opt in to e-statements.
- Employer/Occupation and Expected Account Activity: This helps establish and verify “normal” account activity as well as provide another way to contact you should there be a concern about your account.
- ID: I think this one is self-explanatory but getting an ID from our customers has not always been common practice. We are trying to update these when you are here.
- Signatures: If we don’t have your signature on file, we have nothing to compare it to in a fraud situation.In this day and age, it’s difficult to stay ahead of the criminals and fraudsters, so a solid foundation of customer information is one of our best defenses.