Money Laundering, Terrorism and Financial Institutions - USA Patriot Act Monitor

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01/26/2010 Customer Identification Program Address Requirement May Be Satisfied by State Agency Address Where Customer Is Victim of Domestic Violence

In 31 states, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking may arrange to receive their mail under a state program which keeps their physical addresses private. Under these Address Confidentiality Programs (ACPs), the state sets up a PO Box which such victims may use as a residential or business address. The state manages the PO Box and forwards mail to the participants. Using a PO Box as an address conflicts with Bank Secrecy Act regulations, which require that banks have a physical address of a customer to satisfy Customer Identification Program requirements. For customers without a physical address, institutions may use the address of a next of kin or another contact individual. In a letter ruling recently posted by FinCEN, a specific institution requested a ruling on the matter, presumably because it had such a customer who was concerned about her or his anonymity and wanted to use the PO Box set up by the state. FinCEN issued a ruling (FIN-2009-R003), providing that the institution should collect the street address of the ACP sponsoring agency for purposes of meeting its CIP address requirement. The agency qualifies as a contact individual for the customer. Although many individuals will probably not have been concerned about giving their physical addresses to banks, the ruling is appropriate and more people will undoubtedly wish to take advantage of it.


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