Answer by Barbara Hurst:
This has always been a question in the minds of security officers, and evidently a non-issue in the minds of most examiners. Most security officers assume that as the mortgage department is housed in that building and the building itself is owned by or is a part of a federally insured institution, it is considered to be part of the bank, and therefore falls under the BPA. On the other hand, there are some departments (mortgage, trust, brokerage) that are housed in corporate offices other than those that are a part of the financial institution properties. Depending on the physical location and proximity to funds, this is a risk assessment call for each security officer to make. At the very least, a security officer will more than likely oversee file and access security, though very few go the route of cameras or alarms other than burglar and fire alarms.
Answer by Dana Turner:
The term referred to in the Bank Protection Act -- "banking office" -- infers that any building that the institution owns, manages, maintains, rents or controls is subject to the provisions of the Act. Examiners, however, don't seem to have reached agreement.
I recommend that you treat every facility as a "banking office". Although non-cash-handling facilities don't have cash, they do contain many of the same things that offenders find of value: customer information, computers and peripherals and negotiable documents are some examples. If your institution is ever sued by a customer because his/her identity has been compromised, believe that you'll be asked why you didn't take the same security measures throughout the institution -- while you're on the witness stand.
First published on BankersOnline.com 8/4/03