New York Rolls Out Address Confidentiality Program; Disaster Relief for Hurricane Victims

November 1, 2012 at 7:59 am 1 comment

Suppose you are a victim of domestic violence.  You fear for your life and want to get as far away from your abuser as possible, but how do you start a new life by, for example, getting an apartment and opening up an account at a credit union or bank without tipping off your abuser to where you live?  This week, legislation took effect establishing New York as one of at least 39 states in the nation that have address confidentiality programs.  Under the program, victims of domestic violence are given a P.O. Box in the Albany area and the Department of State forwards their mail to them.  The state has notified domestic violence organizations that the program is now in effect, so credit unions may soon be seeing the state issued identifications being presented to them by individuals wishing to open up an account.

The Association wrote a memo in support of the initial legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. Paterson.  Not only is the legislation simply a good idea, it provides much-needed assistance to credit unions that previously had to choose between helping out a domestic violence victim and complying with federal law.  As explained in a blog that I did on the legislation last September, under the customer identification procedures of the Bank Secrecy Act, a financial institution would not be in compliance with the rules if it accepts a post office box address to fulfill CIP requirements because, as pointed out by FinCEN, a member who does not have a residential street address must provide the address of a relative or other contact person.  As a result, in states without address confidentiality programs credit unions have no legitimate means to allow someone with legitimate fears for their safety to provide a post office address in lieu of their actual location.  Recognizing this dilemma, FinCEN opined that a financial institution complies with federal regulation when it accepts identification provided under an address confidentiality program.

Credit unions are not obligated to accept these IDs but I can’t think of a good reason not to.  Credit union members and employees know that there is no more basic building block to securing one’s future than providing them with the means of getting financial independence.  No one should have to choose between establishing their own financial identity and putting their physical safety at risk.

Not all states have adopted programs like this yet but I hope they do.  The toughest penal laws won’t by themselves eliminate domestic violence.  We need to make sure that these victims, the vast majority of them women, often with young children, are given the means to start over again.

HUD Announces Disaster Relief Measures

HUD has announced a series of relief measures for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the metropolitan area.  They include a 90-day foreclosure moratorium of FHA-insured homes.

Entry filed under: General, New York State, Regulatory. Tags: , , , , .

NCUA does what it can; the rest is up to us. Playing the Cards We’re Dealt.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Immigration Advicers Graves end  |  May 21, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be
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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association.

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