Calif. League Urges Treasury To Endorse Matricula

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Credit unions should continue to be able to accept matricula consular cards as a form of identification from people seeking to open accounts, the California Credit Union League said in a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department.

"The league has reviewed the matricula card (including its security and issuance criteria) and is impressed with the level of security and sophistication it represents," David L. Chatfield, League president and CEO, wrote in the letter to Treasury General Counsel David D. Aufhauser.

The California league was responding to the Treasury Department's "notice of inquiry" announcement, which requested public comment on an identification rule passed under the USA PATRIOT Act. That regulation, passed June 9 and set to go into effect Oct. 1, permits financial institutions the discretion to accept identification documents issued by foreign governments.

"While we encourage credit unions to accept matricula cards as valid identification from credit union members and joint owners, the decision whether or not to accept the matricula should be left to the credit union," Chatfield wrote. "That decision should not be forced upon the credit union by government regulation."

Moreover, financial institutions should not be precluded from relying on certain forms of identification issued by certain foreign governments, Chatfield stated.

"Credit unions should not be forced to accept certain forms of identification from certain countries and not from others. Any genuine identification issued by a foreign government with a unique identifying number should be acceptable identification," he wrote.

The league noted that due to California's large immigrant population, much of it from Latin America, many California credit unions accept the matricula consular, a form of identification issued by the Mexican consulate, as identification from new members seeking to open accounts.

If financial institutions were prohibited from accepting government-issued identification like the matricula, "many persons would leave or never enter the 'conventional' financial system and rely upon high- priced, unregulated check cashiers, money changers or other retail establishments that will accept their identification (or know the person personally) and transact the business requested," Chatfield wrote.

In the league's letter, Chatfield also said that federal regulations should not require financial institutions to obtain a passport number from all customers who are not U.S. citizens.

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