• Why 308,127,404 Americans Are Going To Get Hosed

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    by Simon Black: Another
    Consequence of Economic Decline

    Last week,
    the US government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN),
    an agency of the US Treasury Department, published its 2011 annual
    report. There are a few numbers that are pretty

    discussed before that FinCEN is the executive agency tasked with
    ensuring that every US banker is an unpaid government spy through
    Suspicious Activity Reports.

    A Suspicious
    Activity Report, or SAR, includes details of any transaction that
    may be deemed ‘suspicious’. Naturally, there’s no
    clear guidance on what is/is not considered suspicious. Banks, brokerages,
    money service businesses, precious metals dealers… even casinos
    are required by law to fill them out.

    If you withdraw
    an unusual amount of cash from your bank account, that could be
    deemed suspicious. If you set up a new payee in your billpay service,
    that could be deemed suspicious. Anything and everything is fair

    Banks and other
    businesses who do not fill out SARs face hefty penalties, including
    imprisonment. If they disclose to a customer that s/he is the subject
    of a SAR, they have hefty penalties, including imprisonment.

    When push comes
    to shove and they have to choose between a nasty penalty, or submitting
    a SAR about your unusual cash withdrawal, which option do you think
    they’ll pick?

    nearly 1.5 million ‘suspicious activity reports’ were
    filed across the US banking system in 2011, well over twice the
    number reported in 2004. On top of this, there were an additional
    14.8 million ‘currency transaction reports’ filed
    in 2011, a 6% jump over last year.

    It’s an
    unfortunate trend which highlights not only the end of financial
    privacy, but also the massive amount of data being collected by
    the government to keep tabs on its citizens.

    According to
    this year’s report, a full 36 distinct federal law enforcement
    agencies requested information from FinCEN (and even more who haven’t).
    Three dozen. And that doesn’t include state or local law enforcement.

    That there
    are this many federal law enforcement agencies to begin with is
    mind-boggling… let alone the thought that some knucklehead
    at the Fish and Wildlife Service has access to bank records.

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