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Robber or customer? Banks and masks

The Brillion News

Many banks and financial institutions have closed their lobbies and offices to walk-in customers, requiring people to use drive-up or walk-up stations outside.

But many banks may be reopening their lobbies and offices to customers, with a big question looming: Is the person with a mask a customer or a robber?

The health and safety of customers and employees remains a top concern for Wisconsin banks as the state carefully begins reopening.

As essential businesses, Wisconsin’s banks remained open throughout the Safer-At-Home order, serving their customers in the drive-through, over the phone, and via online and mobile banking.

In a recent Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) member survey, the majority of respondents indicate they will either require or encourage employees to wear masks (59 percent total).

Additionally, in order to help their customers feel safe and comply with CDC and State health recommendations, some banks may allow (or even require) branch visitors to wear masks.

However, safety and security collide when it comes to customers wearing masks, as banks are historically and understandably uncomfortable with people disguising their faces while in the bank.

Out of an abundance of caution and to protect staff and customers, banks have historically prohibited masks and other face coverings. With many customers anxious about health concerns, many banks are shifting those rules to be more flexible.

“Banks’ highest priority is the health and safety of their customers and their staff,” said Rose Oswald Poels, president/CEO of the WBA. “Each bank will weigh its unique risks and determine their procedures for permitting customers to wear masks while in the branch. Customers should remember that banking services remain available online and through mobile applications as well as drive-throughs.”

Bank customers should consider what their bank’s guidelines may be related to masks. WBA’s member banks are employing a variety of strategies, so customers may be asked to:

  1. Lower their mask for a few seconds while facing a security camera

  2. Lower their mask for a few seconds to allow staff to identify them

  3. Answer security/identification verification questions (similar to using phone banking services)

  4. Use the drive-through if they are unwilling or unable to comply with the bank’s guidelines for masks

WBA encourages consumers to contact their bank directly with specific questions about wearing masks and/or other face coverings in the branch.


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