RIGHT TO PRIVACY: MONEY PRIVACY
Third of a Series of Right to Privacy Articles
By Grant Hall
This article contains actual privacy experience of Grant Hall, author, Privacy Crisis; Identity Theft Prevention Plan and Guide to Anonymous Living. Certain names and locations have been changed.
“BANKING” WITHOUT A BANK
Los Angeles traffic was as I expected. Heavy traffic brought cars to a near halt periodically and I could have crawled faster than the sedan moved toward the distant Wilshire Boulevard exit.
Dag’s Westwood guest house would be my residence for the next week. Dag is my boss and we had a meeting scheduled the next day.
I hoped I’d make it to the check cashing store prior to closing time. I needed to cash several checks as my week ahead would offer few opportunities for personal business. Also, I hoped Bertha would be at the store so that I’d get my cash without a long wait. It pays to build relationships with proprietors as one lives a privacy lifestyle, (Hall, 2006) and I had known Bertha for years, done business with her at a distance and she had bent over backwards to serve my needs. I appreciated her efforts and had guaranteed all checks, just in case one should “bounce” though Bertha was careful with all her customers and I was no exception.
The benefits of using check cashing businesses for privacy purposes has been explained by privacy authors, (Hall, 2007), (Hall, 2006) and (Hill, 1998) and privacy advocates continue using them to keep their money affairs under the radar.
Over the years, I have used check cashing stores for clearing certain checks. These establishments have become multi-faceted financial institutions and provide immediate money for checks. Customers avoid the holds placed on checks by banks-often three to five days or longer. Other business related services and purchases can be made at check cashing stores. Money orders, debit cards and the receipt and sending of faxes are additional goods and services available at these pseudo banking operations.
FINACIAL PRIVACY IS YOUR RIGHT UNTIL “THEY” WANT YOUR MONEY
While one may believe they have the right to financial privacy-and in fact this may be true, from a legal standpoint, the seizure of business bank accounts by government agencies is fully documented, (Hall, 2007) and once assets are seized, the debate over financial privacy rights as afforded by the U.S. Constitution, (Browne, 2003) becomes an academic exercise, (Right to Financial Privacy Act, 12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.) and it may be more prudent to “bank” beneath the radar to avoid the problems of having money at risk. Also, the costs of recovering the funds when a business or individual is right and eventually prevails is costly, not to mention the time it takes to prove a case in court.
Certain business money and personal money earned from commissions, wages, salaries and the like may best be protected while being kept under one’s control-without a custodian (bank) as banks are really quasi government agencies and your banker is not your friend, (Hill, 1998). Further, foreign bank accounts offer no security from seizure in most cases, (Barber, 2007) due to MLAT agreements and the perceived banking secrecy of certain “banking havens” is long outdated, not to mention the expense and time involved in accessing personal funds held by a foreign bank.
The aforementioned obstacles and risks within both the U.S and foreign banking systems make check cashing stores a viable option for the privacy seeker when full control and safety of personal money and certain business money is the goal.
Investment funds are a separate matter and may be held by another entity that cannot be seized-legally, (Hall, 2006). U.S. and foreign institutions have been used successfully by privacy advocates for holding investment funds. These accounts will be the subject matter of a future article.
SPEAK CLEARLY AND BE PATIENT
Bertha had left the check cashing store after nine years as the manager. They did not have the company documents on file that I had provided some years earlier. And, I had failed to come fully prepared with my “bank file.” Would I be forced to dig up the documents, bring them in another day and begin anew with a different manager? Would they cash my checks at all?
Karen was the new store manager and she pulled up some very basic information on the computer about the company I managed and my check cashing history with the store and remarked that I had not been in for a long while. I explained my work schedule required some travel and expressed surprise that her predecessor had not stored my file so that I could proceed as a customer in her absence. Karen agreed. She began the dreaded phone calls to her manager. I sat down and waited.
Speaking across the room to someone positioned behind a bullet-proof glass window has never appealed to me and today was no exception. On occasion, I’d rise from my chair, go up to the window and provide explanations to Karen. I was careful to speak in my best diction and to not become angered about the missing file.
The district manager was now on the phone with Karen. Questions about my company’s resident agent, address, manager of record with the Secretary of State and other questions were asked and answered. Speaking to a person through someone else has never appealed to me and I convinced her to hand the phone to me. She directed me to a locked room, slid the mobile phone under the glass and I conversed with her boss. I introduced myself to “Bossman” and our conversation was most pleasant. He knew I’d been a good customer and wanted to preserve the relationship. Soon, he said, “Okay” and I handed the phone back to Karen.
Karen verified my address on file-a mail drop and my phone number of record-a voice mail message number and thanked me for my patience. Minutes later, she had me endorse the checks with my illegible scribble of a signature and I received the cash-under the glass window, of course. She advised my records were all set for future business and I left feeling grateful I’d had a reasonably good experience while preserving my money privacy.
1.Barber, Hoyt, Tax Havens Today: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Investing Offshore, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007
2.Browne, Harry, Does the Constitution contain a Right to Privacy? 2003, article available at: www.HarryBrowne.org
3.Ellis, David and Lubby, Tami, Problem Bank List Keeps Growing, 2008, article available at: www.CNN.com
4.Griffin, G. Edward, The Creature from Jekyll Island, American Media, 2002
5.Hall, Grant, Privacy Crisis: Identity Theft Prevention Plan and Guide to Anonymous Living, James Clark King, LLC, 2006, ( eBook available at: www.PrivacyCrisis.com
6.Hall, Grant, Bank of “Arrogance” and the Privacy Crisis, 2008, article available at: www.Cryptovore.com and www.PrivacyCrisis.com
7.Hall, Grant, The Money Privacy Crisis: “Banking” Secretly in the U.S.A., 2007, Article available at: www.RepublicBroadCasting.org and www.PrivacyCrisis.com
8.Hill, W.G., Banking in Silence, Scope International, Ltd., 1998
9.Hill, W.G., PT 2, Scope International, Ltd., 1996
10.Hill, W.G., PT, Scope International, Ltd., 1990
11.Right to Financial Privacy Act, (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.)
Copyright: James Clark King, LLC, November 22, 2008