What Is a Customer Identification Program?

November 7, 2023 by Stefani Wendel

For companies that regularly engage in financial transactions, having a customer identification program (CIP) is mandatory to comply with the regulations around identity verification requirements across the customer lifecycle. In this blog post, we will delve into the essentials of a customer identification program, what it entails, and why it is important for businesses to implement one.

What is a Customer Identification Program (CIP)?

A CIP is a set of procedures implemented by financial institutions to verify the identity of their customers. The purpose of a CIP is to be a part of a financial institution’s fraud management solutions, with similar goals as to detect and prevent fraud like money laundering, identity theft, and other fraudulent activities. The program enables financial institutions to assess the risk level associated with a particular customer and determine whether their business dealings are legitimate.

An effective CIP program should check the following boxes:

  • Confidently verify customer identities
  • Seamless authentication
  • Understand and anticipate customer activities

Where does Know Your Customer (KYC) fit in?

KYC policies must include a robust CIP across the customer lifecycle from initial onboarding through portfolio management. KYC solutions encompass the financial institution’s customer identification program, customer due diligence and ongoing monitoring.

What are the requirements for a CIP?

Customer identification program requirements vary depending on the type of financial institution, the type of account opened, and other factors. However, the essential components of a CIP include verifying the customer’s identity using government-issued identification, obtaining and verifying the customer’s address, and checking the customer against a list of known criminals, terrorists, or suspicious individuals. These measures help detect and prevent financial crimes.

Why is a CIP important for businesses?

CIP helps businesses mitigate risk by ensuring they have accurate and up-to-date information about their customers. This also helps financial institutions comply with laws and regulations that require them to monitor financial transactions for any suspicious activities. By having a robust CIP in place, businesses can establish trust and rapport with their customers.

According to Experian’s 2023 U.S. Identity and Fraud Report, more than 85% of consumers expect businesses to respond to their identity and fraud concerns, and these expectations have risen over the past several years. Having an effective CIP in place is part of financial institutions showing their consumers that they have their best interests top of mind.

Finding the right partner

It’s important to find a partner you trust when working to establish processes and procedures for verifying customer identity, address, and other relevant information. Companies can also utilize specialized software that can help streamline the CIP process and ensure that it is being carried out accurately and consistently.

Experian’s proprietary and partner data sources and flexible monitoring and segmentation tools allow you to resolve CIP discrepancies and fraud risk in a single step, all while keeping pace with emerging fraud threats with effective customer identification software.

Putting consumers first is paramount. The security of their identity is priority one, but financial institutions must pay equal attention to their consumers’ preferences and experiences. It is not just enough to verify customer identities. Leading financial institutions will automate customer identification to reduce manual intervention and verify with a reasonable belief that the identity is valid and eligible to use the services you provide. Seamless experiences with the right amount of friction (I.e., step-up authentication) should also be pursued to preserve the quality of the customer experience.

Putting it all together

As cybersecurity threats are becoming more sophisticated, it is essential for financial institutions to protect their customerinformation and level up their fraud prevention solutions. Implementing a customer identification program is an essential component in achieving that objective. A robust CIP helps organizations detect, prevent, and deter fraudulent activities while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. While implementing a CIP can be complex, having a solid plan and establishing clear guidelines is the best way for companies to safeguard customer information and maintain their reputation.

CIPs are an integral part of financial institutions security infrastructures and must be a business priority. By ensuring that they have accurate and up-to-date data on their customers, they can mitigate risk, establish trust, and comply with regulatory requirements. A sound CIP program can help financial institutions detect and prevent financial crimes and cyber threats while ensuring that legitimate business transactions are not disrupted, therefore safeguarding their customers’ information and protecting their own reputation.