Proposal To Require ID Photocopies Has Problems, Insurance Groups Say

By

Washington

Requiring financial institutions such as insurance company broker-dealers to obtain photocopies of customer identification documents may be self-defeating, says the American Council of Life Insurers.

“A photocopying requirement could unnecessarily facilitate identity theft,” writes the Washington-based ACLI in a letter to the Treasury Department.

“A photocopy database of sensitive customer identification information could unwittingly enable terrorists and international money launderers to threaten national security,” the letter says. “Ironically, this could thwart rather than bolster the worthwhile purposes of the Patriot Act.”

The letter is a response to a Treasury Department request for comments on whether financial institutions should obtain photocopies of identification documents as part of their customer identification responsibilities under the USA Patriot Act.

The Act was enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack with the goal of preventing terrorists from engaging in money laundering.

Under current rules, financial institutions are required to examine customer identification documents and provide a description of the documents as part of the customers file.

However, Treasury is now considering requiring a photocopy of the documents.

The ACLI letter notes that pragmatically speaking, a photocopying requirement would be functionally impossible to perform for insurance distributors who see customers in their homes.

ACLI says insurance agents do not carry photocopying equipment with them. Moreover, ACLI says, many types of identification, such as drivers licenses, have security features that prevent copying.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., agrees. In a separate letter to Treasury, NAIFA says it is unreasonable to require agents to carry portable photocopying equipment into their clients homes.

“Imposing photocopying requirements would also amount to a de facto requirement that all business be conducted in person,” NAIFA says.

NAIFA also cites the increased risk of identify theft from a photocopying requirement. “By requiring the compilation of personal data in one location, Treasury would inadvertently create new opportunities for thieves to pirate personal information from one source.”

In addition to urging Treasury not to adopt a photocopying requirement, NAIFA is asking it not to impose a five-year recordkeeping requirement on small businesses.

Agencies that operate as small businesses, NAIFA says, incur large costs in relation to their size when recordkeeping requirements are imposed.

Small businesses, NAIFA says, often must store these records at offsite locations because of the physical size of their offices.

A five-year recordkeeping requirement, NAIFA says, would impose substantial financial burdens on small businesses that already must maintain voluminous records to comply with state and federal regulations.

In other news, NAIFA says it is examining all its options as it considers how to respond to the “do not call” regulation recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. (See NU, Aug. 4.)

William R. Anderson, senior vice president of law and government relations with NAIFA, says the group is talking with other affected trade associations about the possibility of litigation or legislation, but it is too early to say whether that will be pursued.

In addition, Anderson says, the new FCC regulation will be a major subject at NAIFAs upcoming annual convention. Two sessions, he says, are slated to assist members in determining how they can carry on their businesses.

NAIFA probably will also conduct other educational activities in conjunction with local affiliates, Anderson says.

The FCCs “do not call” requirement was adopted on July 25 and applies to all businesses, including the business of insurance.

(The insurance industry is exempt from the “do not call” regulation adopted earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission.)

But the FCCs rule goes beyond that of the FTC. For example, the FCCs rule applies to all telephone calls, while the FTCs rule only applies to interstate calls.

While FCC allows telephone calls to those with whom there is a business relationship, a referral is not considered to be a business relationship.

Finally, Donald Young, president of the Health Insurance Association of America, is criticizing a group of physicians for advocating a single-payer health insurance system last week.

“Americans have consistently rejected calls for government-run health care because people understand that turning the health care financial system over to bureaucrats and politicians will inevitably result in long waits for routine procedures, rationing of medicine and price controls,” Young says.

He notes that last year, Oregon voters defeated a proposal for a government-run health system by a 4-to-1 margin.

A Chicago-based group called Physicians for a National Health Program held a press conference in Washington calling for a national health care system.

The group says the current system wastes vast resources due to administrative costs, executive salaries and profiteering.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 18, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.