do you pay off your credit card each month?
- 03-03-2006, 07:16 PM
do you pay off your credit card each month?
Pay too much and you could raise the alarm
By BOB KERR
The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Walter Soehnge is a retired Texas schoolteacher who traveled north with his wife, Deana, saw summer change to fall in Rhode Island and decided this was a place to stay for a while.
So the Soehnges live in Scituate now and Walter sometimes has breakfast at the Gentleman Farmer in Scituate Village, where he has passed the test and become a regular despite an accent that is definitely not local.
And it was there, at his usual table last week, that he told me that he was "madder than a panther with kerosene on his tail."
He says things like that. Texas does leave its mark on a man.
What got him so upset might seem trivial to some people who have learned to accept small infringements on their freedom as just part of the way things are in this age of terror-fed paranoia. It's that "everything changed after 9/11" thing.
But not Walter.
"We're a product of the '60s," he said. "We believe government should be way away from us in that regard."
He was referring to the recent decision by him and his wife to be responsible, to do the kind of thing that just about anyone would say makes good, solid financial sense.
They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.
And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.
And all they did was pay down their debt. They didn't call a suspected terrorist on their cell phone. They didn't try to sneak a machine gun through customs.
They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance. And they learned how frighteningly wide the net of suspicion has been cast.
After sending in the check, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed.
So Deana Soehnge called the credit-card company. Then Walter called.
"When you mess with my money, I want to know why," he said.
They both learned the same astounding piece of information about the little things that can set the threat sensors to beeping and blinking.
They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.
Walter called television stations, the American Civil Liberties Union and me. And he went on the Internet to see what he could learn. He learned about changes in something called the Bank Privacy Act.
"The more I'm on, the scarier it gets," he said. "It's scary how easily someone in Homeland Security can get permission to spy."
Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up. The Soehnges were apparently found not to be promoting global terrorism under the guise of paying a credit-card bill. They never did learn how a large credit card payment can pose a security threat.
But the experience has been a reminder that a small piece of privacy has been surrendered. Walter Soehnge, who says he holds solid, middle-of-the-road American beliefs, worries about rights being lost.
"If it can happen to me, it can happen to others," he said.
(Bob Kerr is a columnist for The Providence Journal. E-mail [email protected].)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)
- 03-03-2006, 09:35 PM
Wow, this is ****ing nuts.
Sometimes I forget business credit card and charge it to my own cc. Up to $2000 a week, he pays me back when I come back and I make payment to my cc again. **** that!
03-04-2006, 03:00 AM
What a freaking waste of time. Thank God their checking CC's payments instead of sealing the border.
03-04-2006, 03:08 AM
03-04-2006, 04:32 AM
03-04-2006, 05:46 AM
Sounds pretty ridiculous, but I"m skeptical until I see it from a reputable new source (if that's not a modern day oxymoron? lol).
I've never heard of the "Scripps Howard News Service" or the "Providence Journal" and I basically believe nothing coming from any sort of journalist these days.
Journalist has become synonymous with acitivist (maybe even wreckless activist), IMO.
03-04-2006, 08:16 AM
It does sound a bit fishy, but if it is true is just makes you shake your head wondering what the hell they are doing in Washington.
Of course, there are a lot of things that make me do that.
03-04-2006, 08:54 AM
03-04-2006, 01:42 PM
Like mentioned above, you dont really know if this is a credible story but still..this is how our freedoms are slowly eroded away, little by little. You dont get upset about little **** like this, and then ten years later everything you buy with a credit card is tracked in some enourmous government computer. (if it isnt already).
Bought more than 20lbs of protien and some anti-e's last month? We'll, you must be using steroids. Please report to your nearest Homeland Security office for testing and analysis.
Sounds ridiculous, but that's the extreme end of where things are heading under our current government.
03-04-2006, 01:47 PM
Damn, I feel safe now. Thank God government agencies are checking up on people who pay off their debts. I'm sure this is the way to win the war on terror. Let's forget about that Osama guy who hasn't been caught yet, let's give hell to our citizens who pay off their debt
03-04-2006, 02:10 PM
If this is a true story....the thing that really irks me about is finding out after recently doing my taxes that I paid over 20k in taxes last year and the government still says I owe them a K. How much is it costing them to run checks like this. The government has become way too big and intrusive all the time using "protecting you from terrorists" as a shield. I never thought I'd be saying this but we need to get the republicans out of office.
03-04-2006, 03:20 PM
I wouldn't doubt the story. The government has and has been trying to impose "Know Your Customer" rules of varying degrees of intrusiveness for a long time. Before the justification was to catch drug dealers, now it's to catch terrorists. The real reason is just power though. The more they can track, the more they can take just for starters. It'd be harder to lie to the IRS if they could somehow get access to your finances and find out if anything "unusual" had happened over the course of the year.
Of course there are a lot of terrorists trying to take down targets with sweaters bought at Penny's, so it's understandable. And that all a terrorist or drug dealer would ever have to do to avoid detection of any financial transactions that would set off Unusual Activty alarms is either use a cc or other instrument that had no such pattern established and then disregard it, or build a pattern through outside financing, incorporating the instruments into their laundering, etc.
It's an ineffective tool that the marginally intelligent can avoid being caught with if they want, which isn't too hard to figure out so the basic reason really is just to increase government power over its citizens.
03-04-2006, 03:42 PM
Originally Posted by Beelzebub
i know where that place is good food, i always pay double what I owe, which is a good thing, but they always raise my limits... not my intention....
RIP Ryan, :(
03-05-2006, 02:25 AM
03-06-2006, 08:43 AM
I just want to do my part to help fight the war on terror, so I will never pay off my credit cards!. Do you hear me Osama never!... and I mean it. Don't mess with the US! Now I am really pissed I am going to get another card today. There is no limit to the debt I am willing to run up for my country!
03-06-2006, 08:52 AM
Well, here in about a month or so, I will be sending in a nice check to mine. Whenever I get my tax returns my wife and I usually use it to knock down the CC debt some. Right now we are looking at sending in about 4500 or so. That should wipe it out completly. Anyways, I will let you all know if the same thing happens to me.
03-06-2006, 10:36 AM
03-10-2006, 03:03 PM
03-10-2006, 03:12 PM
I do know when you have $10,000.00 or more withdrawn and/or deposited into your account, it sends a message to Big Brother. They may look at it, along with your past banking history. If it is a rare transaction, they usually ignore it. However, if it is common, then they may look into it. They generally want to know why this amount of money is being moved often. Usually has something to do with drugs and/or money laundering. Is it right? That all depends on your stance on the issue.
03-10-2006, 09:43 PM
two more months and i am out of debt! i messed my self up in college... too much credit.. too many supps, not enough income
03-11-2006, 03:34 PM
03-11-2006, 04:13 PM
Yeah, that's why I used to like to keep my payments sporadic and random. You can't say I'm a percentage off my usual pattern when my pattern is chaotic.
But I've also wisened up, and have kept my credit card clean for the past year without fail.
I've also been paying more and more with cash. Good ol' untracable where you spent it cash. Plus it hurts more to part with the paper, so you spend less. Now I have a "pattern" of withdrawing a certain portion of cash...who knows where it goes or stays?
03-11-2006, 10:44 PM
I have heard the hot transaction method is retail gift cards! I'll trade you a $50 Macy's and a $100 Bed Bath and Beyond for some of that plutonium
03-11-2006, 11:52 PM
03-16-2006, 10:59 AM
The bolded text will be on a bumper sticker on my car before you know it.Originally Posted by MaynardMeek
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