Six leading high street banks are to undergo a massive operation to verify the identity of every account holder in the UK, in a bid to crack down on money laundering and terrorist funding.
Abbey National, Barclays, HBOS, HSBC, LloydsTSB and The Royal Bank of Scotland will also increase investment in automated computer monitoring systems to flag up unusual and suspicious transactions.
The banks issued a statement of principles this week as part of the 'Know Your Customer' (KYC) campaign.
"The ongoing monitoring of individual transactions on customer accounts is critical to improving our ability to detect criminal activity," the statement said.
"We are investing heavily in automated systems and processes for monitoring transactions on customer accounts. These systems improve our ability to detect unusual transactions, and help the authorities to identify and respond to new money laundering techniques."
Although in some cases account holders will be required to provide evidence of identity (such as a passport) at their local branch, the banks aim to use automated data-matching techniques to minimise the cost and disruption of the operation.
"Through the use of expert computer systems and automated checks, we aim to minimise the impact on our customers and indeed many of our customers will be unaware of our activity," the banks' statement said.
The campaign has been developed with the Financial Services Authority, which has stepped up its efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist funding following the 11 September attacks in the US.
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