Around the world, banks and their customers are transitioning to a new reality. Regulators expect banks to prevent financial crime such as money laundering, terrorist financing and the evasion of sanctions - and HSBC is committed to meeting the highest standards in its controls against these kinds of activities.
Criminals who try to access the financial system harm lives and communities everywhere through activities such as human trafficking and the trade in illegal drugs as well as fraud and identity theft. We believe these issues matter to everyone and we want to work with our customers to fight against these criminals.
To succeed, we need more information about our customers than in the past: from customers applying to open accounts and from existing customers. Understanding who we bank with, the source of their wealth and the purpose of their relationships with HSBC is vital to our defences against criminals. This is why we have launched HSBC Safeguard.
We will be requesting up-to-date information from our customers to help us protect you and resist the criminals who want to access the financial system. We understand how frustrating these kinds of requests from banks can be. We are sorry for the inconvenience that they may cause, and thank you for playing your part in the fight against financial crime.
We appreciate that it may take time for you to provide up-to-date information. To help with the process, we will upgrade our technology so that many of our customers can respond to these requests through digital channels. In the meantime, we will continue to help you with these requests for information as well as with your regular banking needs.
The purpose of updating the information of existing customers and collecting the information of new customers is to ensure our systems and processes can protect both our customers and the bank against financial crime. We take our obligation to protect your data very seriously, so all the information you provide will be subject to HSBC Group's high data and security standards. The intent in asking you to confirm or update your existing information and provide new information is to use this information for your protection.
You do not need to do anything at the moment. In order to manage the process, we will be contacting customers individually on a phased basis to let you know when you need to update your information.
Frequently asked questions
What is HSBC Safeguard? How will HSBC Safeguard protect me?
HSBC Safeguard is a series of initiatives designed to better protect all our customers from fraud and financial crime through our global systems. It involves strengthening our ability to detect and deter money laundering and evasion of sanctions as these activities harm lives and communities everywhere. We will be requesting the most up-to-date information from our customers which could include the source of their wealth and the purpose of their relationships with us. By better understanding these, we will be able to protect your bank accounts from potential misuse and prevent criminal actions that abuse the financial system.
In addition, we will no longer be offering products such as travellers' cheques, as we believe they are no longer a safe enough way for our customers to convert their money. We may review other products like this over time.
What is financial crime?
Fraud and financial crimes are forms of theft. They tend to involve money or property that are gained illegally, and used in a deceptive or illegal manner to gain benefits from the proceeds. In today's complex economy, financial crimes can take many forms, including money laundering, sanction breaches, fraud, tax evasion, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption.
What are sanctions?
Sanctions are a policy tool which national governments and organisations such as the United Nations and European Union use to constrain and deter perceived threats to their security, or to require international conduct to conform to recognised international standards. Sanctions help stop crimes like terrorism, drug trafficking and arms dealing by imposing restrictions on the business that banks can do with specific people, corporations or countries. The names of these are clearly listed on resources like the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list.
Why is financial crime an increasing concern?
Fighting financial crime has been a longstanding priority for HSBC. However, criminal activity has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Fraudsters, money launderers and others have persistently targeted the global networks of financial institutions.
Improving the way we share and manage customer information will help us fight against the risk of financial crime. After all, it's our duty to ensure that you can bank with us safely, securely and confidently.
I have banked with you for years. Why do you suddenly need additional information?
We understand your concerns and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for using our banking services. As a responsible bank, keeping customer account information accurate and up to date is key to making banking more secure for customers and protecting the community from financial crime. We thank you for your understanding and support.
I have completed similar types of banking transaction many times before, why are you asking me so many questions now?
We understand your concerns and appreciate that you may have been using HSBC to meet your banking needs for a long period of time. As fraud and financial crime are becoming increasingly sophisticated, we need to adopt new measures to provide you with better protection. Therefore, from time to time, we do need to update our customer records to ensure they are current and complete. Having stronger checks will help prevent fraud and other financial crime.
Don't you have all of the information that you require?
We need to periodically conduct reviews with customers in order to obtain the most relevant and up-to-date information. This is to ensure that all of the information we have is accurate, up to date and covers details that you haven't provided before or weren't previously required. The information you provide will help us protect your account from potential misuse and the community from financial crime.
What has financial crime got to do with me or my business?
Financial crime and fraud can affect everyone. As the world becomes increasingly connected and information moves around at a greater pace, there are unfortunately greater opportunities for criminals to misuse the financial system. A key defence against money laundering is to prevent accounts from being opened with false identities.
We also sometimes need to verify the origins of the funds as part of our ongoing efforts to track our customers' legitimate funds and to protect them from financial crime. Criminals will try to appear to be law abiding citizens or businesses and therefore we need to request relevant documents from our customers in order to protect them and their accounts.
Security has always been important. Why are you asking me for more information now?
Constant changes in technology and the way companies do business have affected the whole banking industry and, in turn, how we protect it. Fraud and financial crime are becoming even more sophisticated and globally organised - so we have to be more vigilant than ever. We need you to help us stay one step ahead of financial crime by providing us with up-to-date information.
What information will you likely request from me?
If you are a personal banking customer, we will likely ask for your identify proof to confirm your identity and address proof to confirm your residential address, and maybe more relevant documents as required. They need to be originals (not copies) and in two separate documents.
If you are a business customer, the documents we ask for will depend on the size and nature of your business. However, we will likely need you to confirm your business legal entity structure, list of beneficial owners, and the countries you do business in.
Why do I have to provide all of these information?
We understand your concerns. HSBC always takes the lead in adopting the best practices to obtain relevant information from our customers. By having the information, we will be able to provide better protection to you.
What will happen if I do not provide the requested information?
We will send you reminders and give you sufficient time to provide the information. If you are having trouble gathering the information, please do let us know as soon as possible so that we can help wherever possible. It may, for example, be possible for us to rely on alternative documents in your possession. Please let us know if you need more time or if you have any further questions.
How does this affect me as a new HSBC customer?
We may need to request information from you as a new customer as well, because we need to understand each of the relationships we build. However, we will try to keep the process as simple and straightforward as possible so as to miminise the impact to you. The information we have about you will be kept confidential and that will help us protect your account from potential misuse.
How will the collection of this information protect me or my business?
As more and more of our customers live, travel and trade internationally, we are always looking for better ways to help you do the things you want to do safely. Part of this is to protect our customers around the globe. Our global systems and processes work by sharing data and customer information across borders in order to deter and detect financial crime. Even when you only bank in one country, we are committed to protecting your account globally as financial crime is a global operation.
By confirming your details and making sure that all the information we hold about you is up to date, you will help us to make banking more secure for you and our customers.