The Sweet Sound of Cash

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Protecting
your personal privacy is a lifestyle choice. Developing the habits
and practices that are conducive to privacy give you more control
over which aspects of your life are made known to whom. One key
way to do this is to use cash
for as many transactions as possible.

Benefits
Of Using Cash

One of the
biggest returns on privacy for the effort invested to gain privacy
is probably by using cash for as many transactions as possible,
whether it is payment or receipt of funds. The paper trail which
follows such transactions vanishes into anonymity when you use cash.
It is almost impossible to link you to a transaction, whether you
are looking at your own financial records or the records of a merchant.
All reporting requirements for tax and other purposes should still
be followed, but even this only reveals some information about the
aggregate amount of cash that has changed hands.

The benefits
to the average person can be enormous. In the unfortunate event
that your bank records or statements are compromised, the cash transactions
will appear only as withdrawals or deposits and there will be no
way of telling where that money came from or went. The more cash
transactions, the fewer the bits of information that are available
from looking at your statements. Using cash instead of credit or
debit cards also keeps the damage from compromised statements to
a minimum. However, with credit card companies, not using them to
make purchases, or carefully selecting which purchases to make with
a credit card, also means that your transaction information will
not be in the hands of marketers and other “affiliates”
of the credit card company. If you are really sneaky you could carefully
craft which expenses you pay with credit cards and which ones you
pay with cash so that marketers and anyone else who has access to
your purchases will only have the profile that you yourself have
painted.

An Unfortunate
Example

A rather dramatic
example of how one should use cash to make a purchase is found in
the experience of Sally
Harpold
. She was prosecuted under Indiana
state drug laws
for purchasing one box of Zyrtec for her husband
and, a few days later, one box of Mucinex for her daughter. Both
medications are available over-the-counter, but the Indiana law
prohibits the purchase of more than a certain amount of medicine
containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine within a seven-day period.
Without her knowledge, she had purchased two medications which,
combined, exceeded the statutory limit. Although she had never had
legal trouble before, had no intent to commit a crime, and was not
committing an act that is wrong or immoral in and of itself, she
was prosecuted. In order to have her record expunged, she was forced
to pay for the cost of the criminal prosecution.

This extremely
bad decision by county prosecutor Nina Alexander to enforce a poorly
worded law in a manner which was never intended would have been
avoided had Mrs. Harpold made one or both of those purchases with
cash. A cash transaction would have left the purchase of the over
the counter medication in this example completely anonymous, impossible
to connect to Mrs. Harpold.

Caveats

There are some
caveats to using cash as often as possible. Cash is almost impossible
to recover if stolen so having enough cash on hand to pay your expenses
can raise security concerns. Also, banks and other institutions
must file Currency Transaction Reports for any transaction or series
of transactions that are greater than $10,000. They also file Suspicious
Activity Reports if they think that your cash transaction is somehow
suspicious.

Conclusion

One of the
most effective ways to protect privacy is to use cash for as many
transactions as possible. This will go a long way to protecting
both your personal and financial privacy and may even keep you out
of jail.

Reprinted
with permission from How to
Vanish.

December
15, 2010

Bill
Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting
from the University of Utah and a law degree from California
Western School of Law
. He practices civil litigation, domestic
and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal
defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and
financial freedom and civil liberties. This is merely one article
of 73 by Bill
Rounds J.D.

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