Patriot Act at the Bank

I was at my bank today opening a second checking account so I can keep my personal finances separate from my business finances and I ran right into the Patriot Act. Over the years I’ve opened any number of accounts with different banks and I’ve never run into a process quite so blatant.

When the account representative started asking me questions like “How much do you expect to deposit each month?” and “How many wire transfers do you expect to make each month?” the red flags started to go off in my head. I said, “I don’t recall being asked these questions two years ago when i opened my current account.” She replied, “We are required by law now to ask these questions and get answers for every new account. If we don’t get the answers the account does not get opened.” And then she added, “This is part of the Patriot Act.” Aha!

I had no problem at all giving her my estimates for the checking account I was opening but I was pretty surprised that the U.S. government is now requiring banks to share such information with them and prohibiting them from opening new accounts without it. I understand why they are making it a requirement in the fight against terrorism but I am quite worried that the information they are collecting may be used for other purposes.

In the meantime, there’s no limit to how much cash I can store under my mattress. The only question now is, Dollars or Euros?

Posted by Cameron Barrett at June 17, 2003 11:50 PM

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