NU Online News Service, Sept. 24, 2003, 6:19 p.m. EDT — Washington

Groups representing life insurance companies and life agents are praising the Treasury Department for its decision not to require financial institutions to photocopy customer identification documents.

Carl Wilkerson, chief counsel for securities with the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, calls the Treasury Department’s action a sensible result.

ACLI is gratified that Treasury decided to retain its original interpretation that the burden of maintaining photocopies exceeds the benefit, Wilkerson says.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., is pleased that Treasury responded to the concerns of NAIFA members, who sent Treasury thousands of letters about the issue, says William Anderson, NAIFA’s senior vice president of government affairs.

Under current regulations, financial institutions are required to take appropriate steps to verify the identity of their customers.

The requirement is part of the USA Patriot Act, which was enacted by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a means of tracking the funds of terrorist groups and preventing money laundering.

While photocopying of identification documents is permitted under the current rule, it is not required.

However, Treasury recently reopened the issue and asked for input on whether photocopying of documents should be required.

The life insurance industry strongly opposed such a requirement, arguing that it could, in effect, force life insurance agents to take photocopying equipment with them on their visits to clients.

Treasury says it received 9,623 comments opposing any photocopying requirement.

More than half of those comments came from the life insurance industry, Wilkerson says.