A friend showed me a letter from The Co-operative Bank, a UK bank with which they have an account. This letter requests their US Social Security Number (SSN):
We've written to you requesting [this] to be returned to the Bank, as our records show that you're either one of the following:
- A United States of America (U.S.) citizen
- A U.S. national
- Have either a living or correspondence address within the U.S.
- Informed us that you're tax resident in the US
Due to this we are required to hold your US Social Security Number (SSN). (...) This information is required to comply with the tax regulations, under which we are required to prvide any foreign tax residency details, including your SSN, together with information about your account(s) in our annual return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
My friend does not remember telling this bank they are a US citizen. They are also wary about disclosing their SSN to someone who doesn't require it. The bank is threatening to freeze, then close the account if they don't get the required information.
The paperwork looks legitimate, as do the means of conveying the information to the bank. The other bank or banks they have accounts with in the UK have not asked for this information.
Do UK banks need to collect SSNs from US citizens? (and the other people listed in the quoted excerpt) And if they do, why?