I am trying to open a bank checking account online in the US. I have provided my US driver's license number and Social Security number. I have provided evidence that I have access to another bank account in the US.

This is a checking account - I do not ask for credit.

The bank asks me to send them scans of both sides of my US driver's license and my US passport.

Why are these required? Why do they need my photo in their constantly-hacked databases?

Is it not enough for them to know that I already have an existing bank account in the US? Do they assume I might have fooled the other bank so they want to do it right this time?

In the end, they may reject my application for unknown reasons, but they will keep all my personal data.

  • Do you live in the US? Are you a US citizen?
    – The Photon
    Apr 1, 2018 at 17:22
  • At the risk of stating the obvious, you have only provided them with evidence that someone with the name you claim to have has a bank account, and has a drivers license and an SSN. You haven't proved that you are that person. Apr 1, 2018 at 18:30
  • @DJClayworth With the scans of DL and Passport I will still not prove that I am that person. I will only prove that I have the scans. Well, illegally acquiring scans was supposed to be more difficult than just stealing the numbers. But not now when Indian-offshore-developed chronically-hackable banking computer systems store those scans.
    – rapt
    Apr 1, 2018 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


Banks are legally obliged to comply with Federal "know your customer" laws.

Normally a person walks into a branch, gets photographed by the security cameras, and presents paper/plastic ID documents physically -- which allow them to use all the usual fake detection - look at the microprinting, hit the driver's license with a UV light, scan the magstripe, all that jazz. This is an effective deterrent to a wide variety of fraud.

Not least, a guy sitting in an Internet cafe on a stolen laptop in Nigeria pretending to be an American so he can work all variety of scam.

In that security context, trust is a big ask.

Also, asking for a checking account is asking for credit. Because it is their policy to honor some overdrafts, and it is their policy to give you access to money from deposited checks before they have cleared irrevocably. In fact, that's precisely how the "too-big check" scam works.

Now if Nigerians could get US bank accounts as easily as you'd like to, they could simply work both sides of the scam and rob the system blind.

They also want to check your bankworthiness in ChexSystems, to ascertain whether you have cheated any banks.

  • 1
    I have had US banks and Credit Unions opening a checking/savings account for me online without sending scans of my personal photos. The "send scans of your photo IDs" requirement is very naive, both in the security it supposedly provides to the bank, and in the obvious risk it puts on the applicant. You know this, right? I have no doubt that the bank knows this. The only reason I would see why the bank would do it is that for that little "promotional rate" they use to lure me in (peanuts for them), I would give them forever access to my photo and the ability to spy on me everywhere.
    – rapt
    Apr 1, 2018 at 23:24
  • 1
    If you are not comfortable with your bank having your photo, choose another bank. Apr 2, 2018 at 2:59

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