The Importance of Signature Cards

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February 16, 2022
Author: Lorman Education

Signature cards are what banks use to identify rightful signers on both personal and business bank accounts. They are signed by the account holders when the account is first established and when signers, or account holders, are removed or added.

The information listed on signature cards usually include general account information such as the account number and the type of account (ie. checking, savings) as well as the personal information of each signer, such as name, date of birth, social security number, and address. Each signer is required to sign their legal name on the signature card as well. These signatures serve as an additional verification tool for tellers and customer service representatives in that these signatures are used to compare endorsements on checks and withdrawal slips.

It is imperative that banking professionals who are responsible for signature card maintenance exercise good practices when processing changes to signature cards.

Processing Signature Card Changes

When processing changes to signature cards, the banking professional should not assume all the information on the signature card is still accurate. If, for instance, the customer wants to process a name change, the banking professional should ensure that the new name is spelled correctly and that the account holder endorses the card using that new name.

The professional should also inquire as to whether the signer's contact information is still accurate. The signer may have gotten married and moved to a new address or changed their phone number. Also, review the signer's identification for any changes that need to be included on the signature card such as an updated expiration date.

Another good practice for banking professionals when processing signature card changes is to collect accurate identification and verifying documents. This will prevent fraud and Patriot Act violations. For example, if a customer was a resident alien but has recently acquired a social security number, the original social security card should be provided before updating the signature card. Likewise, the professional should seek a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or updated identification for name changes and death certificates for removal of signers due to death.

Signature cards are the banks way of verifying rightful owners of accounts as well as the owners' personal information. In order to keep the information on the cards accurate and to prevent fraud and Patriot Act violations, banking professionals should ensure that all other information on the signature card is accurate and they should collect the appropriate and valid documentation to process changes.

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