I opened a savings and checking account at a credit union yesterday. Apparently, I hadn't done anything like that for some time. Even though the account I was opening was small, requiring the less onerous senior savings plan, the credit union required two proofs of identification, not just a driver's license.
They also did a credit check.
This seems strange, because I am depositing money, not applying for a loan. I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have known she was doing it if she hadn't told me, and if she hadn't informed me that she was required to do this credit check because of the Patriot Act, I probably wouldn't have questioned it. Shame on me.
But she did let me know she was pulling up the credit report, and told me my score and what it meant. We shared snide comments about how the government requested unnecessary private information, claiming to be protecting us from terrorists, and were able to do this just because they could.
But then I got home and started to wonder about this. Apparently, banks are not required to pull up a credit report, but they are required to confirm a person's identity and note any unusual financial activity. The requirement, since 9/11 and the Bush regime, is apparently so frightening that banks have taken the easiest way out by accessing as much private information as they can. And your credit report is easy.
You also don't want to come in to big amounts of cash out of the blue, or your account could be frozen while the bank reports you to the government.
But, said the online banking article from 2006, most people won't be affected by this; they won't even know it is going on.
So just hope you're one of those many people who haven't got a clue that the government has got your bank's eyes on you.