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USA: Bank of America accused of freezing customer accounts after asking about citizenship status; includes company comments

Author: Rob Wile, The Miami Herald, Published on: 6 September 2018

"He's been studying in the U.S. legally for 7 years. Bank of America froze his account anyway," 30 August 2018

Saeed Moshfegh... an Iranian getting his Ph.D in physics at the University of Miami... woke up earlier this month to discover the strangest thing: though he had plenty of money in his Bank of America account, he couldn’t access it... In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers’ accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S.. In July, the Washington Post reported that multiple customers had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens... Proof of citizenship is not required to open a bank account in the U.S., according to Stephanie Collins, a spokesperson for... the federal agency that supervises branch banking. Banks are merely required to identify and report suspicious transactions and maintain and update customer information, she said. 

... Bank of America spokesperson Carla Molina said... there had been no change in how Bank of America collects information from customers, including citizenship, in at least a decade. The bank attempts to contact customers before the change the status of their bank accounts, she said.... Spokespersons for Wells Fargo and Citibank both said they may ask about customers’ citizenship to maintain compliance with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering rules. They said no new policies asking for citizenship status have been put in place. Molina, the Bank of America spokesperson, said the new customer complaints may simply be a response to heightened sensitivities to the debate over immigration in the U.S.

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Related companies: Bank of America Citibank (part of Citigroup) Citigroup Wells Fargo