YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Steve Slawinski knew something was wrong when checks and bank cards from different financial institutions started showing up in his York County mailbox with his name on them.

“I called the {banks} and told them I didn’t open up an account,” Slawinski said. “They looked up all the information and saw that someone has my social security number. I said ‘is that all they needed?’. They said you don’t have to open up a bank account in person, you can apply online. It used to be, at least that I remember, I had to be in-person to open up my checking account and give them a couple forms of ID to say hey this is Steve. They said if they have your social they can do just about anything.”

Are banks doing enough to verify who is applying for credit cards and checking accounts?

The abc27 Investigators reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS), which regulates financial services in the state. It said banks and credit unions are required by federal law
to have a Customer Identification Program (CIP) ) as part of their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist compliance program required under the USA PATRIOT Act.

Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here

“A CIP must include risk-based procedures for verifying the identity of each customer. Whether photo identification is required to open a checking account with a bank or credit union varies by institution. According to an annual report by the FTC, identity theft is the top reported form of fraud in Pennsylvania. However, the department has no data to support that an increase in reported cases of identity theft has been caused by identification requirements for opening accounts,” Virginia Lucy, Communications Director, Pa. Department of Banking and a Securities said.

According to DoBS, regulators routinely examine the adequacy of a bank’s CIP program. Consumers can also file complaints against their financial institution related to fraud issues. Consumers can use the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council search tool (FFIEC) to find out which federal regulator to contact.

DoBS encourages consumers to contact its Consumer Services Office (800-PA-BANKS or 800-600-0007) with any questions or complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.

“Even in cases where the department is not the primary regulator for a particular bank, we are often able to help set the consumer in the appropriate direction,” Lucy said.

Luckily, Slawinski didn’t activate the cards that arrived in his mailbox. While the scammer used all of his information to open the accounts, they used a different phone number and email so they would receive an activation notice.

“They could have made a withdrawal because they had all the account information,” Slawinski said.

If this happens to you immediately call the bank and let them know you did not open the account, notify the three credit reporting agencies and ask to have a one year fraud alert placed on your account, and keep an eye on your accounts for any suspicious activity.

To learn more about the federal regulations that outline requirements for banks click the links. U.S. Department of Treasury covering 31 CFR Part 103 FinCEN’s issuance of a FAQ on the CIP Rule