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March 2, 2006 9:52 PM   Subscribe

DHS monitors your credit card payments. (via)
posted by trondant (56 comments total)

 
Homeland Security my arse.

The credit companys hate it to see you attempt to leave your profitable slavery (to them).

They'd come to your home, drag you out in the middle of the night and beat you back into minimum payments if they thought they could get away with it.
posted by HTuttle at 9:55 PM on March 2, 2006


Jee, what if everybody started to do it. It's "the threat of the bad example" again.
posted by Dareos at 10:03 PM on March 2, 2006


I wasn't aware that the 19 Al-Queda hijackers were all really good about paying their cards off. Learn something new every day.
posted by mathowie at 10:13 PM on March 2, 2006


somewhere, george w. bush is smirking.
posted by quonsar at 10:19 PM on March 2, 2006


I don't know, maybe it's true, but I find the "article" kind of sensationalistic.

One time I payed $3000 on a credit card, which was 15x the normal $200 payments I made. After 3 or 4 days the money still wasn't taken out of my account. So I called them. They said that because it was such a large amount, it would take 10-15 days to process. It was for security...
posted by jahmoon at 10:27 PM on March 2, 2006


Hmmm... OK, so what would be the reason DHS would be suspicious of people paying off their debt? Is that like the last thing someone does before dying in jihad?

Is there some exaggeration here or maybe they're leaving something out? Because even for the stuff I don't think our government should know, I can see WHY they'd want to know it. But not this. I'm stumped.
posted by b_thinky at 10:33 PM on March 2, 2006


See, why bother worrying about the NSA.
posted by homunculus at 10:36 PM on March 2, 2006


Depends.

Are you worried more about the Patriot act or you bank screwing you up the arse?

One of those two is already proven.
posted by HTuttle at 10:44 PM on March 2, 2006


I don't quite know why, but this doesn't bother me at all... I mean, I dislike a number of the ways our liberties are being infringed in the name of the holy war, but this one, really, who gives a rats ass?
posted by jonson at 10:55 PM on March 2, 2006


Well, I was thinking of taking up lobster fishing...
posted by homunculus at 10:55 PM on March 2, 2006


I new I shouldn't have purchased that Yellow Cake on my
Discover card! Damn
posted by thedailygrowl at 10:56 PM on March 2, 2006


I completely paid off $15K worth of credit cards and various other debt a few months ago. Also paid off a house, and my truck. Not a peep or a problem.
posted by mrbill at 11:02 PM on March 2, 2006


I recently paid off my credit card debt to the tune of a few thousand dollars. The payment went through right away and a few weeks later they raised my limit by $500. Mind you that's in Canada.
posted by futureproof at 11:07 PM on March 2, 2006


mrbill is obviously a terrorist.
posted by b_thinky at 11:37 PM on March 2, 2006


Know your place, Debt Slave! Do not try to escape, Debt Slave!
posted by sourwookie at 11:55 PM on March 2, 2006


This is a measure against money laundering, right?

I think the limit for obligatory reporting is $10,000, but a financial institution can choose to report any suspicious activity?

This payment probably triggered some sort of heuristic. I'm finding it pretty difficult to get worked up about this, actually.

Tangentially: money laundering fascinates me. I have only a vague understanding of it, but it seems like this activity where you get to develop all sorts of clever schemes and play a tense cat-and-mouse game with regulators. If it were a valid career choice, I might have gone into money laundering. But I would never do anything illegal, Government Internet Watchers. Really.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:09 AM on March 3, 2006


mr_roboto, I think the $10,000 reporting requirement is only for cash transactions.
posted by ryanrs at 1:14 AM on March 3, 2006


A perfect example of the vagueness of my understanding of money laundering!
posted by mr_roboto at 1:29 AM on March 3, 2006


Money laundering is one possibility, but payment received for your terrorist activities seems to be the much more obvious reason they'd want to look into it a bit further.

"Why, Mr. Jonson has had quite the windfall. Perhaps it's because of all the Jihadists he's smuggling bomb-making equipment to."

Seriously, I'm betting that's it more than anything. (If you believe their "reasons.")
posted by disillusioned at 2:33 AM on March 3, 2006


Geez. If I were going to die in a fiery ball of martyrdom, paying off my Mastercard would be the last thing I'd do.

"Ha ha! Five thousand of your American dollars in lapdances! And I'm not even sending you the minimum monthly payment, infidels!"
posted by EarBucket at 3:26 AM on March 3, 2006


At the very least, it's a waste of the government's time, which they could be spending doing something worthwhile.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:37 AM on March 3, 2006


There's definitely some odd shit going on.

Just this past week, my manager at work, who lives in Maine, but works 4/5 days in Manhattan recently found out the the funds in his Citibank account he was using were frozen by the DHS because he had used a PO box as his home address (he lives in a rural area). He had been using the account without a problem for three months, so that was fine for Citibank, but at some point DHS found out about it, and put a lock on his account. He now has to re-present himself to Citibank with three forms of picture id that show that address as his home address.

I'm not sure if an alert was sent to DHS, or that DHS does a perodic review of such data. But pretty amazing that you can be at the mall one day thinking you have plenty of funds in your bank account to make a purchase, and then find out that the Feds have locked you out of access to your own funds because of some arbitrary rule that you had no idea about.

It's mostly just a huge inconvenience for him, but this left me with a very creepy feeling.
posted by psmealey at 4:20 AM on March 3, 2006


Know Your Customer has been around for a while in some shape or form, and it has always sucked.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:39 AM on March 3, 2006


Well, I was thinking of taking up lobster fishing...
posted by homunculus at 1:55 AM EST on March 3 [!]


Very interesting article homunculus. From the article:
If you thought al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents were the major threats facing America, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) says you're wrong. According to Dent, "The growing availability of methamphetamine is a form of terrorism unto itself." Many of Dent's colleagues apparently agree, so they've attached surveillance, "smuggling", and "money laundering" provisions to the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.
...
even the current loose definitions of money laundering and smuggling are leading to the "overcriminalization" of petty regulatory violations.... Fisherman David McNab is now serving a multi-year sentence because smuggling and money laundering charges were tacked on to a minor environmental violation in bagging lobsters that were less than 5.5 inches in length. "The lobsters were 'smuggled' in plastic bags for all to see," Heritage authors Paul Rosenzweig and Ellen S. Podgor note. "The proceeds from the sale of the lobsters were 'laundered' because they were deposited in a bank."
posted by caddis at 5:00 AM on March 3, 2006


Everyone knows that it's every patriotic American's duty to keep piling on the debts!
posted by clevershark at 5:14 AM on March 3, 2006


Screw money. I'm gonna launder the lobsters directly from now on.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:20 AM on March 3, 2006


I think the limit for obligatory reporting is $10,000, but a financial institution can choose to report any suspicious activity?

This payment probably triggered some sort of heuristic. I'm finding it pretty difficult to get worked up about this, actually.


It triggered some sort of pissed off reaction from his credit card company, who go above and beyond the law for "your safety," which is actually "exploiting the system to try and squeeze a little more interest out of he consumer."

If everything's for the benefit of the ruling class but done ostensibly for the citizen's benefit, what's the real difference between our system and soviet-style communism? Pretty much only that our oligarchs wear better suits.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:34 AM on March 3, 2006


Just this past week, my manager at work, who lives in Maine, but works 4/5 days in Manhattan recently found out the the funds in his Citibank account he was using were frozen

It's hard to tell the difference between Mainers and muslim extremists. They both tend to have beards and talk funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:36 AM on March 3, 2006


Whew, I don't ever pay my bill, so I guess I don't have to worry.

Lesson learned: it pays to be a broke deadbeat!
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 5:42 AM on March 3, 2006


Not only does this kind of thing manage piss off Walter from Texas and the MeFI cabal, it also happens to undermine the government's efforts to catch REAL terrorists.

According to this report, provided by Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as of June 30, 2005, over 2.6 million Suspicious Activity Report forms (SARs) have been filed with FinCEN. The volume of Suspicious Activity Report filings in the first six months of 2005 increased 45% over those filed in the same period in 2004.

And the U.S. Treasury Department admits themselves that this is a problem:

"FinCEN indicates that some of this increase is warranted, while some may be attributed to 'defensive filing' by financial institutions, in which SARs are filed on nonsuspicious transactions out of concern about regulatory and criminal scrutiny. Such defensive filing dilutes the value of the information in the BSA* database."

*Bank Secrecy Act

So it's basically a lose/lose situation.

Feel safer yet?
posted by Otis at 6:03 AM on March 3, 2006


Mayor, I don't have a beard. just a little moustache
posted by theora55 at 6:17 AM on March 3, 2006


I'm really creeped out by this. Like a lot of Patriot Act policy, on the face of it, it's no big deal. But the opportunities for abuse are vast.

<snark>I wish DHS would do a better job of monitoring my credit card payments. I hate paying late fees. </snark>
posted by theora55 at 6:37 AM on March 3, 2006


Small world. My cousin works at the restaurant in that story. She isn't a terrorist either.
posted by Biblio at 7:00 AM on March 3, 2006


The headline is bullshit.

The DHS was notified of an unusual financial transaction by a financial institution and they looked into it. This used to be done by treasury, but moved to DHS.

Like a lot of Patriot Act policy

It has nothing to do with the completely overblown USA PATRIOT Act, despite what people who have not actually read the USA PATRIOT Act may think.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:08 AM on March 3, 2006


Section 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-56)1, required the Secretary of the Treasury to adopt regulations to encourage regulatory authorities and law enforcement authorities to share with financial institutions information regarding individuals, entities, and organizations engaged in or reasonably suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities. FinCEN issued a proposed rule on March 5, 2002, and the final rule on September 26, 2002 (67 Fed. Reg. 60,579). Section 314(a) requirements are now published in 31 CFR Part
103.100.

USA PATRIOT Act Section 314(b) permits financial institutions, upon providing notice to the United States Department of the Treasury, to share information with one another in order to identify and report to the federal government activities that may involve money laundering or terrorist activity.

FinCEN’s regulations under Section 314(a) enables federal law enforcement agencies, through FinCEN, to reach out to more than 44,000 points of contact at more than 27,000 financial institutions to locate accounts and transactions of persons that may be involved in terrorism or money laundering.
posted by Otis at 7:27 AM on March 3, 2006


(cited from here and here)
posted by Otis at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2006


I dislike a number of the ways our liberties are being infringed in the name of the holy war, but this one, really, who gives a rats ass?

You're kidding, right? EVERY liberty is sacred. Every freedom's great. If a right gets wasted, Uncle Sam gets quite irate.
posted by davelog at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2006


The DHS was notified of an unusual financial transaction by a financial institution and they looked into it. This used to be done by treasury, but moved to DHS.

Seeing DHS and thinking anti-terrorism is a common mistake here on MeFi. In fact, DHS is a hydra of an agency that managed to swallow the missions of multiple agencies including the Secret Service wing of Treasury, Coast Guard, Immigration, Cusoms and FEMA. Of course, this is an open door for the kinds of mission creep that have been going on since the Clinton administration played fast and loose with the definition of terrorism extending it to relatively non-violent acts of envronmental monkeywrenching.

The end result is that DHS has jurisdiction over a lot of criminal acts, major or minor, that may or may not have anything to do with terrorism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2006


Thanks so much for posting this. As an online poker player that regularly cashes out directly to my checking account, this concerns me. I've posted these links to Two Plus Two where there's always lots of talk about poker. I'm sure it'll spark discussion over there...
posted by joecacti at 8:06 AM on March 3, 2006


Reporting of unusual financial transaction did not begin with PATRIOT. USA PATRIOT may have facilitated easier communication, however, it was not a new thing. That's why section 314(c) says:

The Secretary shall, within 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, adopt regulations to encourage further cooperation among financial institutions, their regulatory authorities, and law enforcement authorities...

If there were no communication already it would have said "establish communication" rather than "encourage further communication."

Also, if you read the materials referenced in your post, particularly 67 FR 60579 you will see that the provisions laid out in USA PATRIOT were a simplification and clarification of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (aka the Fair Credit Reporting Act). In the 1980's Treasury, under the BSA expanded the regulations to require any transactions of $10000 or more to be reported.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:23 AM on March 3, 2006


davelog is my hero.
posted by S.C. at 8:23 AM on March 3, 2006


In the 1980's Treasury, under the BSA expanded the regulations to require any transactions of $10000 or more to be reported.

$6522 < $10000.
posted by davelog at 8:31 AM on March 3, 2006


Reporting of unusual financial transaction did not begin with PATRIOT

I never said it did. You said this type of financial reporting has nothing to do with the PATRIOT Act. I think what I posted clearly shows there ARE financial reporting provisions in the PATRIOT Act that may have enabled the events detailed in the post (i.e. the wider sharing of financial information with federal law enforcement agencies). So to say this has "nothing to do with the completely overblown USA PATRIOT Act" is simply false.
posted by Otis at 8:45 AM on March 3, 2006


DHS monitors your credit card payments.

especially if you get a 24-month membership to www.burqawearingcumguzzlers.com
posted by matteo at 9:01 AM on March 3, 2006


Also, from here:

The Patriot Act has expanded requirements regarding currency reporting and SARs (see Patriot Act §§ 356, 365), and has added an array of new mechanisms through which financial institutions can be required to provide information to the government (see, e.g., Patriot Act §§ 311, 312, 319).

Sounds like a bit more than a "simplification and clarification" no?
posted by Otis at 9:06 AM on March 3, 2006


It sounds like more stupid idiotic meddling of governent and private industry.

Last time I checked, the definition of Mussolini's fasism was where the state and corporations were pretty much one and the same. Money = power. The rich ruling class. Who else around here finds that utterly offensive.

Dpn't go winning any bets, don't win the lottery, don't practice fiscal responsibility. Stay in your day to day grind. Argue about social issues that have no relavence to your lives. Don't mind us, we're here to help, we're from Government Inc.

Paranoia, it's what's for breakfast.
posted by daq at 9:13 AM on March 3, 2006


Hmmm. Seems like the banking industry also had some pretty strong objections to the PATRIOT Act. Wonder why? You think they'd be in favor of any simplification or clarification of existing law affecting their business.

The American Bankers Association was severe in our criticism of the implementation of Section 314(a) of the PATRIOT Act. The 314 process requires financial institutions to search accounts for potential matches to names on government investigative lists. As you may recall, many of our members complained that despite the clear congressional direction to the agencies, there was no apparent connection to terrorism or money laundering in the demands. Instead, the “requests” seemed to be a dumping ground for law enforcement cold cases.
posted by Otis at 9:31 AM on March 3, 2006


$6522 < $10000/em>

Thanks for the math lesson, however read what I said again:

In the 1980's Treasury, under the BSA expanded the regulations to require any transactions of $10000 or more to be reported.

They could report a $20 withdrawal from an ATM, but due to the "War on Drugs" the law was expanded to require reporting on transactions of $10000 or more.

PATRIOT mandated "encourage[meant] of further reporting" if you look at the Federal Register notice that was cited by FinCEN you can see what Treasury did to live up to the mandate of USA PATRIOT. They clarified the BSA and they changed the requirement of a Financial Institution to provide a "certification" to a requirement that they provide a "notice" before they produce financial information.

The establishment of the advisory board does not make it easier for the institutions to report, rather it provides the institutions with better information as to how to report and what their rights are. Because of the clarifications the scope of the BSA was actually narrowed. In other words because PATRIOT made them encourage the process, they actually made the requirements less stringent.

posted by Pollomacho at 9:42 AM on March 3, 2006


Damn those italics!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:42 AM on March 3, 2006


somewhere, george w. bush is smirking.
posted by quonsar at 1:19 AM EST on March 3 [!]


That's pretty much always true, isn't it?
posted by pmurray63 at 9:54 AM on March 3, 2006


Nuns' Account Frozen By Patriot Act
posted by Otis at 10:09 AM on March 3, 2006


I think part of the outrage burnout comes from the fact that some of us remember when this shit was justified using the "war on drugs" rather than the "war on terror."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2006


The upside is, there’s no chance this will be abused.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:21 AM on March 3, 2006


The fact that Homeland Security sticks their nose into every banking transaction that makes their corporate sponsors unhappy isn't terribly surprising, considering how far their tentacled reach has dug into the entire infrastructure of the country.
posted by dejah420 at 11:37 AM on March 3, 2006


Thanks for the math lesson, however read what I said again:

In the 1980's Treasury, under the BSA expanded the regulations to require any transactions of $10000 or more to be reported.


Ah, ok, so it's not a DHS requirement that the 6 grand payment be investigated, it was the credit card company themselves volunteering the information. That makes me feel so much better.

If I had a JC Penny card, I'd shred it and put all the little pieces in one of those postage-paid envelopes they're always sending me, and tape the whole thing to a brick and drop it in the public mailbox. Screw those jerks.
posted by davelog at 11:38 AM on March 3, 2006


The really profitable folks are the folks who are right on the edge of bankruptcy, the people who are making those minimum monthly payments, who are late every now and again, who occasionally bounce a check, who have missed some payments on some of their other bills.
.... they've figured out the way to maximize profits for the credit card company. And the best way to maximize profits for the credit card company is lend to everyone at 9.9 percent. And as soon as you think you've got someone who won't be able to go somewhere else to borrow the money, change the price, and move that price way, way up, hit them with $29 late fees and $35 fees and $50 fees, and collect, collect, collect.

posted by hank at 4:30 PM on March 3, 2006


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