We Need ID, You Might Be Terrorists; INSURER BLAMES 'RIDICULOUS' MONEY-LAUNDERING LAWS FOR TELLING COUPLE AFTER 25 YEARS OF SAVING . ., FINANCIAL MAIL

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Byline: RICHARD DYSON

John and Susan Hughes have been paying into the same insurance policy for 25 years. They have lived in the same house for 12 years. And all they want is for the money from the maturing policy, which has performed poorly and so is not a huge sum, to be put into the bank account they have used to pay their [pounds sterling]17.50 monthly premiums.

You would think that would be quite easy. Think again.

Their insurance company Target Life, now a closed insurer owned by Lloyds TSB, has said that before it will pay up, the Hugheses must prove who they are.

The couple, from Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland, will have to establish their identities and their address.

John, a 53-year-old prison officer, and Susan, 51, a nurse, are more than annoyed.

He says: 'To prove our ID, Target has asked for an original passport, driving licence or tax document.

'And to prove our address, we need to send a utility bill or council tax statement. If we don't send originals, we have to send copies that have been certified by a lawyer.' He wrote to Target to complain. It replied, saying there was no way round the matter - it required this proof by law. A spokesman said: 'It may seem ridiculous to have to ask customers of 25 years to prove who they are, but this is what the regulations force us to do.' The regulations were introduced to stamp out money-laundering. Increasingly, the Government has turned to financial institutions to detect and prevent fraud, whether it is theft - such as the [pounds sterling]53 million cash robbery in Kent last month - or the amassing of funds by terrorists.

John Gibson, money-laundering reporting officer for Skipton Building Society, says: 'Initially, the regulations were completely geared toward unearthing the brigand, rather than getting on with servicing customers.

'The situation has got a lot better and we can build systems that lessen the inconvenience for our customers.' Nonetheless, moneylaundering rules give rise to huge numbers of complaints, according to banking giant Halifax. 'It's a regular complaint, especially from existing customers,' it says.

'But historically, regulations have not been as strict. You may have had a customer for years, but we will never have performed the necessary checks on them. So when they want to open a new account, we have to ask them to go through the process. …