How the State Destroys Your Banking Relationships

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Posted in category Surveillance State

I caused a scene at the credit union last week.

I use a neighborhood credit union that is old-fashioned and still offers personalized service. I’ve had an account there since I was five. I’ve always liked doing business with those folks. However, the tellers and managers seem to come-and-go more often these days, which means I no longer have the same solid, long-term relationships with people at the bank.

I exhibited abominable behavior last week when I walked into the bank with $5,400 in cash and asked to deposit it in one of my money market accounts. The teller was one of those newer gals, and I don’t have a relationship with her. My bud, the Lead Teller, has moved to one of the credit union’s other branches, so I deal with the new people each time I go in. The cash was mostly in 20s and 10s. I dropped the wad of cash through the teller window. She immediately glared at me, sizing me up through the narrow slits in her eyes. She kept commenting on the excessive number of small bills. I shrugged and said, “Sorry to burden you with the deposit from heck.”

She neatly arranged the wad of cash and walked to the back of the counter to put it through the bank bill counter. Then she called a manager over – I don’t know him either – and they whispered for a bit, then he started to put the bills through the machine. She came back to the window and started to ask me questions about the money. She wanted to know why I walked in with cash. She tried to appear as if she was jokingly asking, “Where did this come from?” She asked if I just sold something. I said, “No.” She asked if “it had just been laying around.” I said, “Not really.” Then she made a remark about “all of those small bills.” I shrugged. By that time, she was irked. I was under no obligation to answer her nosy questions, and she knew that I knew that was the case.

She essentially acted smug during the whole transaction, which took about twenty minutes. Of course I left pissed off about the whole experience. I understand why it happened, of course, but that’s why I get more irritated than most people. Consider this 2005 article on Wired:

Pressured by anti-terror laws, banks will be spending billions of dollars over the next few years on software to counter money laundering. The software will automatically track suspicious financial transactions, but it will also monitor millions of innocuous ones, and may make it harder to cheat on your taxes.

Thanks to the stringent requirements of the Patriot Act, enacted after 9/11 to choke the supply of terror funds, and the unambiguous threats of steep fines and even imprisonment of bank directors if their organizations facilitate money laundering, U.S. financial institutions are very enthusiastic about installing anti-money-laundering software.

The post-9/11 war on banking privacy was not for the purpose of  “choking off the supply of terror funds” – that was only the story to sell the scheme. Create a crisis – terrorists laundering money – and the government steps in to make a power grab and zap another essential element of freedom: privacy of voluntary transactions between you and your banker.

I used to work at a broker-dealer in finance/accounting, and we had an aggressive AML (Anti-Money Laundering) department. All employees were forced to view these silly propaganda presentations each year, and they included taking quizzes on the presentation material (money laundering propaganda) until you “passed” the various quizzes. If you didn’t finish the quizzes in a timely manner, you got emails from the AML group warning you that you would be “reported” to your boss. I got reported a lot. I have a good friend who has had similar experiences in his professional career, and he can tell a better story on AML than I can.

The state has destroyed financial privacy through its “war” on private, voluntary transactions between banks and customers. Banking totalitarianism has left financial service employees brainwashed, suspicious, and unable to engage their long-time customers in an honest business relationship. It’s pretty much an attitude of guilty until proven not guilty that guides bank employees in their day-to-day dealings with their customers.

A few years back my bank started holding the personal checks I would cash, usually for four days. Four days then became five days, and in 2009 the new rule was a 5 – 10 day hold. Not that it matters that my deposits show up in my balances as “available” or “unavailable,” but it’s the attitude that leaves me fuming each time I am subjected to a teller loudly voicing that “the monies will be held for 5-10 days…..” The Lead Teller used to waive the hold because of my money market balances. With her being gone, the holds are no longer waived.

All of this nonsense serves to break down the relationship between you and your bank or credit union. It makes the customer angry, and no one gets any benefit from it except the totalitarian overlords in government whose goal is to control you and break down your resistance to their invasion of your day-to-day life functions.

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9 Responses to How the State Destroys Your Banking Relationships

  1. Jerry says:

    February 18th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    The one that kills me is the rule that only allows you to make 6 transfers out of your savings account in one month. I find this ridiculous as well, All of my accounts are connected and I like to put my bill money in my savings account and then transfer the money once the bill is due. however, I had to stop doing that as I forgot about a bill (I didn’t put it on my web bill pay) and needed to make a quick payment and was forced to send in a check as I wasn’t allowed to make any more transactions for the rest of the month, as I had already made my allotment of 6. Never mind that most were for a couple hundred bucks at a time.
    The whole thing is very irritating.

  2. S.B. says:

    February 18th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    That is terrible! Especially considering you’ve been a customer there since you were 5.
    I guess large bills would be less suspicious? Ha! Those busy bodies have nothing else to do but nose around. You just gave them something to talk about for the next 5 years.

  3. M. Terry says:

    February 18th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Let em watch a training film, and any minimum wage employee transforms into an instant potentate.

  4. Mark D says:

    February 18th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Karen, my friend had a similar expeience when he tried to close a bank account after moving to San Antonio. When he came back a year after moving he went to the bank to withdraw his funds and close his account. This brought up nosey questions from the teller asking him why he had moved and why he needed the money withdrawn; she even asked him what new employment he had! When he answered her questions vaguely, she became perturbed and even more aggressive in her questioning. He eventually was able to close his account, but when he moved back he never did business with the bank again. All of this was over $1200!

  5. liberranter says:

    February 18th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Karen, I’m really amazed that you were able to establish a relationship with the staff at your CU. Even the smallest of these institutions normally operates like its big bank competitors, treating employees as fungible commodities to be hired, fired, or transferred on a whim. In fact, I’m pretty well convinced that most banks and CUs of any size actively discourage personalized customer service.

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the rookie teller who processed your transaction. Assuming that this lady was a 20-something, it’s probably safe to say that she’s never in her life experienced, let alone practiced anything approaching “customer service.” Her manager, OTOH, should probably have been called on the carpet. Granted, he and his bosses are thralls of the fedgov’s unconstitutional and intrusive banking laws, but that doesn’t excuse rudeness or substandard service on his or his employees’ part.

    All of that said, I still suspect that even without intrusive banking laws to justify their atrocious and customer-unfriendly behavior, the owners of most banks probably would still engage in it anyway. With the concentration of what little remains of the Amerikan economy into fewer and fewer hands, there are few remaining incentives for practicing good customer service. As I said in the first paragraph, even the small local banks and CUs seem to be striving to emulate “the big guys” all every conceivable ways, including the worst ones.

  6. blackseabrew says:

    February 19th, 2010 at 6:10 am

    I travel to Ukraine as often as possible…Odessa on the Black Sea is my second home. To obtain local currency via cash, one needs to use fresh, clean and very new US Federal Reserve Notes, preferably $100 denomination. Obtaining these in the US can be a challenge. If I want my banks(I bank with two different small local banks) to order them from the counterfeiting Federal Reserve, I can expect a three-month delay before they are delivered. We’re not talking about much money…..less than $5000. Interestingly enough, I can obtain US dollars in Ukraine faster than this and it’s not an easy process.

    Most of the time, I am working with familiar tellers or bank employees. But when I get a new one I get the same treatment you described. If I’m in a pissy mood I’ll make some comment like Ukraine has the best drugs money can buy or I’m over there to buy a sex-slave. Whatever I can do to shock them after they’ve ran to their supervisor to ask about a suspicious ‘cash’ transaction. Then I tell them it’s none of their damn business as it’s my money and if they are going to work in the banking industry they should understand that deposits belong to the customer. Furthermore, just because of 9/11 I did not forfeit my rights and property to the US government, the unconstitutional Patriot Act be damned. I’ve got more than a few stunned looks from the young tellers, which are inevitably young women who have never thought about ‘rights’ and ‘property’ much less challenged over the issue.

    Also, in the late summer 2008, my banks began having a supervisor sign off for me to cash my paycheck, which was around $4000 and always exchanged for cash, which I prefer to keep as I’ve had the IRS steal $4000 from me (2005) when my bank account apparently got to large for them. Not only was the supervisor approval required, but to obtain cash, I had to physically enter the bank….the drive-thru option with my driver’s license as an ID was not OK….unless I just wanted to deposit the check of course. I suppose this could have been the banks themselves but curiously enough, both banks adopted this policy at the same time so I suspect some federal stranglehold regulation was involved.

  7. Jeannie Queenie says:

    February 19th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Here is how the state destroys your banking relationship in this video. Just watch Barney the Banking Queen and you will understand just why we are in a world of hurt. Althought this video is named Barney the Banking Queen, it might as well be Banking Queer.
    At any rate, you’ll be rolling on the floor watching this one at

    “Banking Queen” – a Live Performance by Barney Frank

  8. Jeannie Queenie says:

    February 19th, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    On a more serious note than the aforesaid laughable Barney, I pass along this piece by Linda Goin from Buy & Hold, one of my brokers. This is a terrific little brokerage where you can buy and sell stocks at very low prices..been with them for a while, and I recommend them for those who often trade. You have a choice of windows to trade in at a much reduced cost…or you can trade anytime for as many times as you want in a month for only $14.99. Either way, it’s a no brainer. I also love their daily and weekly writers who offer great tips. This one Linda has written this week was right up my alley, for two weeks ago, I decided to leave my bank for a credit union. Was fed up with the lousy service and that recent incident whereby they charged me $75 in fees for holding three checks I deposited even though I had money to cover them. Although I did not pay that $75 for their stupid regulations, that did it for me. Between the scam games banks are playing now and the even stinkier attitudes prevailing, I have taken my little red wagon elsewhere. Back to the topic…Linda’s article this week is entitled, TIME TO DIVORCE MY BANK. Some good thoughts in this well written piece by her which can be read at this url…

  9. cousin lucky says:

    February 21st, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    It is probably my old age but I do not trust any business that is always hiring new employees at the lowest pay rate. Here in New york City these ” new hires ” are notorious for ” selling ” your name, social security number, address, and account numbers to anyone willing to pay them!!

    Like my late uncle always said ” Never Leave All Of Your Money In One Place ” !!!

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