Why Prove Your Identity?

When financial service firms ask you for proof of identity, it doesn’t mean they suspect you of being a Robert Maxwell figure of ill-repute. No, the law requires them to verify the identity of their customers.

Normally, firms do this when you first become a customer. However, they may also ask you to prove your identity if you are already a customer. This is often due to:

  • You were a customer before the ID requirements became a legal requirement (i.e. pre 9/11) or when the standards for checks were different from those needed today.
  • The service provider may want to ensure that the information it has on you is up to date
  • You may be applying for a new product or service
  • The firm wants to protect itself and you from fraud

Proving Your Identity

Neither the law or the UK’s Financial Service Authority (FSA), set out specific details on how firms should authenticate their customers’ identity, however most reputable firms must follow the industry protocols from the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG).

Firms might ask you for different forms of identification, but most firms will ask you for official national identity documents to verify your name and either your address or your date of birth. The following examples include:

  • A UK government-issued document with either your full name and a photograph (such as a valid passport or a valid photocard driving licence), or
  • A government-issued document with your full name and title but without a photograph (e.g old style UK passport), plus another document that states your full name and either your full name, your address and/or you birth date.

If you’re unable to provide these for any reason, the above documents, the following may suffice:

  • A letter from a local or central government agency confirming a right to welfare/state benefits such as a pension, council tax, housing benefit, or
  • Suitable confirmation of identity from a young person’s workplace or education institution, or
  • A letter confirming your idenity from a care home manager or a warden of sheltered accommodation or a refuge

All firms have their own policy on which documents they will accept so they should explain this to you beforehand.

Where firms use electronic databases to verfiy your identity (i.e. credit applications), they may not ask you to provide identity documents.

If you have difficulty proving your identity, the member of staff dealing with your application, should pass the matter to someone who is authorised to decide that you are who you say you are.

By Ruby

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