Q: Accounts for Unbanked Consumers. Can banks open accounts for unbanked consumers to receive economic relief payments?
A: Yes. The FDIC is supportive of efforts to bring unbanked consumers into the banking system, and encourages financial institutions to consider opening such accounts so that these consumers can receive their economic impact payments safely and quickly. Financial institutions should take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships. There is significant flexibility built into the existing rules. The customer identification program (CIP) rule asks for the collection of name, address, date of birth and a taxpayer identification number when an account relationship is established.
This information enables a bank to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of each customer wanting to establish an account relationship. Under the CIP rule, a bank must have risk-based procedures for verifying a customer’s identity. Banks may use various methods to verify a customer’s identity including verification through information such as a utility bill or public databases.
This Q&A was contained in the Frequently Asked Questions for Financial Institutions Affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Referred to as COVID-19) – As of March 3, 2021 (which may be updated from time to time). This may be found on the FDIC’s website here: https://www.fdic.gov/Coronavirus/faq-fi.pdf.