- Banks in the US routinely solicit identification documents from their customers as part of the institutions’ due-diligence efforts, ensuring the banks are complying with federal law.
- But for people from certain countries, the prospect of revealing their country of origin is risky in an era where the Trump administration is cracking down on immigration offenses
- Some customers say their bank accounts were frozen after the institutions asked them to prove that they were in the US legally.
Some bank customers in the US say their financial institutions asked them to provide documentation to prove they are in the US legally. In at least one case, a customer said his bank froze his account after the bank rejected the identification he submitted, the Miami Herald reported.
The newspaper said Thursday that an Iranian doctoral student at the University of Miami was recently locked out of his Bank of America account after he submitted documentation to prove his legal residency in the US.
Saeed Moshfegh, who told the Herald he has been living in the US legally for seven years, said as part of an agreement with his bank, he was submitting the necessary residency documentation every six months. “I think it’s onerous, but I’d been doing it,” he told the Florida newspaper.
“This bank doesn’t know how the immigration system works, so they didn’t accept my document,” Moshfegh said.
Moshfegh’s case wasn’t unique. Dan Hernandez, a TV writer of Cuban decent living in California, told the Herald that his business account was suspended in December 2016 under the suspicion that he had illicit business ties with Cuba. His company is called Cuban Missile Inc..
Hernandez told the paper “Cuban Missile” was his childhood nickname.
“I started screaming that this was racist,” Hernandez told the Herald. “Like, did you go through every company that had ‘Jewish bagels’ in its name, or how about calling someone with ‘Korean BBQ’ to see if they’re doing business with Kim Jong Un?”
Bank of America spokeswoman, Carla Molina, said the institution has not changed the way it collects customer information. Bank of America asks about country of citizenship “in order to comply with laws and regulatory requirements, including those related to the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act or enforced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control,” Molina told HuffPost on Thursday.
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