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Posted: 3/2/2006 12:44:17 PM EDT
Land of the free ...


Pay too much and you could raise the alarm

By BOB KERR
The Providence Journal
28-FEB-06

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 bkerr@projo.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:44:44 PM EDT
big brother anyone?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:49:14 PM EDT
DAMN!

I just sent in a check for quite a bit more than that to pay off my home equity line of credit, and I was about to start making some large payments to pay off my credit card over the next three months.

I wonder if I'm going to have DHS crawling up my ass too now!
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:49:30 PM EDT
Gotta remember this, I will be paying off a monster bill in a few weeks.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:52:54 PM EDT
This crap is going too far!!!

Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:53:10 PM EDT
I would hope that there is more to the story then just that. Two months ago I paid off three credit cards (about 18K) and my payments had no problem and were not blocked.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:53:22 PM EDT



my folks are blind conservatives. they love the current administration and would never admit any infringements or boundries that are stepped over by the .gov.

i told my folks that this kind of thing can happen about a week or two ago. they flat out did not believe that the .gov would EVER look through people's financial stuffs unless they were a terrorist or drug dealer.


Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:56:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By OLNACL:
I would hope that there is more to the story then just that. Two months ago I paid off three credit cards (about 18K) and my payments had no problem and were not blocked.




probably the case

these sort of things seem to usually end up with "the rest of the story" left off
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:58:04 PM EDT
thats insane. they cry if you don't pay they call HLS is you pay it all at once.

you can't win
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:59:46 PM EDT
Maybe it was a ruse used by the CC company to delay payment of the debt thereby earning more interest on it...or maybe not...
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 12:59:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NME:
This crap is going has gone way too far!!!




Just tweaked it a bit.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:00:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:
DAMN!

I just sent in a check for quite a bit more than that to pay off my home equity line of credit, and I was about to start making some large payments to pay off my credit card over the next three months.

I wonder if I'm going to have DHS crawling up my ass too now!



Mine ought to be amusing. I'm using a home equity line of credit as a "bridge mortgage" on another house. When my current home sells, I'll be paying about $300,000. off on the line. They'll probably be at the door. (maybe I'll point them South, where they ca do some good)
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:00:40 PM EDT
Damned if you do, Damned if you dont....
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:03:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TodaysTomSawyer:

Originally Posted By NME:
This crap is going has gone way too far!!!




Just tweaked it a bit.



That's more like it!!!

And then the damn Patriot Act was renewed too...
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:03:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HIPPO:
Maybe it was a ruse used by the CC company to delay payment of the debt thereby earning more interest on it...or maybe not...



That was my initial thought.

Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:07:10 PM EDT
I paid off a *large" credit card bill in three payments in two months.
The last payment was for $5,000.
The credit card held the payments up because they payments did not fit my previous payment history.
I cancelled my card after that.

Didn't know about the HS involvment.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:07:17 PM EDT
SO lets see here are the list of "red flags" that could put you under scrutiny.

i asked my friend who is a e-7 pay level to help me out on this.
1. Pay with Credit card.
2. Pay in Cash.
3. Pay in Saudi Money.
4. Buy a one way ticket.
5. Buy a two way ticket.
6. Make an overseas phone call
7. Call the international operator and ask her to connect you to Osama Bun laden Satellite phone.
8. check out a library book.
9. Return a library book with the words "death to AMerica" written on the cover.
10. use a library computer
11. use a library computer to download porn called 'Burka babes 9'
12. have a last name that is spelled with a Z in it.
13. Go to a book store and purchase the book "how i invented the internet" by Al Gore.
14. When you go to a dentist you specifically ask him Not to place the RFID tag into your filling.
15. Go to a flag store and buy 1000 Danish, US and isreali flags with a cash. (if you use your credit card you're ok)
16. Be overheard in public saying "The U.N. is a great human rights organisation."

Whoa! I think that except for #12 i have done all of those things!

Anyone here know of any others?????
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:08:39 PM EDT
Pre 9/11 I would send in a payment annually of $25K+ to pay off a card.

What Bullshit.

I did a Dave Ramsey and now only have debit cards - FT CC companies.

Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:09:11 PM EDT
Betcha Homeland Security had nothing to do with it. It might have raised a flag for the CC company's fraud department, who might let the FBI know about suspected fraud.

Sounds like the CC company weenie blamed DHS and not their own policies.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:11:44 PM EDT
Wow, if the story is accurate that's pretty rediculous.

Tagged for updates.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:12:52 PM EDT
Here's a question...

If you make a huge payment to pay off a bill and they put the payment on hold while they verify that you are not a terrorist, do they still expect you to make your normal monthly payments?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:15:40 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2006 4:57:29 PM EDT by txgp17]
It happened to me Something like that happened to me, I made a payment that was about 10 times more than I usually pay, and they refused to apply the funds to my account for several days. Scum suckers.

Edited, see above...
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:22:20 PM EDT
I sold my condo last year, paid over 20K in debts off and put 60K down on a brand new house with no problems. Maybe the FBI is waiting to get a glimpse of a scud missile in my garage?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:30:43 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:31:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By txgp17:
It happened to me, I made a payment that was about 10 times more than I usually pay, and they refused to apply the funds to my account for several days. Scum suckers.


Chase holds our payments from work for two months whenever they're over $5k. Of course they charge us huge late fees and 26% interest in the meantime. I wonder if HLS has something to do with it. Every time I've talked to them they've told me they were unable to tell me why they do that.

American Express does not do that. When we make a large payment, American Express credits it within two weeks unlike Chase.z
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:32:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2006 11:06:38 PM EDT by thedoctors308]
If you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 1:55:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
If you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.

Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:00:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:10:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By txgp17:

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
If you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.




I was too sad to add the "" to my original post.
Hope you understand.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:11:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Aimless:


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






Yeah I'm not buying this at all.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:11:45 PM EDT
That kind of crap never happened under President Clinton's presidency?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:14:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By zoom:

Originally Posted By txgp17:
It happened to me, I made a payment that was about 10 times more than I usually pay, and they refused to apply the funds to my account for several days. Scum suckers.


Chase holds our payments from work for two months whenever they're over $5k. Of course they charge us huge late fees and 26% interest in the meantime. I wonder if HLS has something to do with it. Every time I've talked to them they've told me they were unable to tell me why they do that.

American Express does not do that. When we make a large payment, American Express credits it within two weeks unlike Chase.z



I'd bet the fault is really with the CC company and they just play the blame game. It's not like the money is going in or out of Country.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:27:01 PM EDT


Well, my "payment history" is to pay my CC bill in full every month, no matter if it's a few hundred or a few thousand. WTF kind of profile can they get from that?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:32:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
Land of the free ... www.red-dawn.net/forums/style_emoticons/default/32.gif



*Some restrictions apply. Void where prohibited. Participants must be at least 18 years of age. Not valid in California, New Jersey and New York. See Federal Government for details.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:32:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2006 2:39:10 PM EDT by LARRYG]

Originally Posted By livefreeordieNH:

Originally Posted By Aimless:


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






Yeah I'm not buying this at all.



Yeah, the leftwing media dishes it out and even some our members eat it up. It would not be the first time someone made up some BS story about the Patriot Act.

There was a thing here about a month or so ago where some college student had some BS printed about him being hassled over something like this and it turned out to be a hoax. Of course, that did not stop the tinfoil crowd on this board from going berserk.

There was another thread recently about some bank doing something similar and blamed it on the Patriot Act and that also turned out to be BS, it was about the bank's own policies and they were trying to shift the blame.

Here was one of them:

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=435245&page=2
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:45:46 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:47:55 PM EDT
That's really strange... I paid off $7500 on a credit card last year, wrote a personal check, it cleared in the normal amount of time.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:50:04 PM EDT
I cashed a $7800 check a few weeks ago. I wonder if I am being watched.

Fucking morons.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 2:58:43 PM EDT
We will never hear about it in the mainstream media.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:00:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By sq40:
We will never hear about it in the mainstream media.



Because there is nothing to hear.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:04:35 PM EDT
If I were a suicide bomber the last thing I would do is PAY my debts...geez....wtf kind of logic is this homeland security infringement bullshit?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:14:31 PM EDT
RI??? HA! he's lucky that they didn't have the FBI investigating him for being a goomba!
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:49:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mikejohnson:
If I were a suicide bomber the last thing I would do is PAY my debts...geez....wtf kind of logic is this homeland security infringement bullshit?



It's a bullshit story.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:57:11 PM EDT
Perhaps the story is legit, perhaps not, for it matters not. I know, I pay my CC either online each month or with a call to the bank manager and it routinely is more than the amount described in the story.

I have the feeling this crap (read, Bravo Sierra) perpetuates itself on the net.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 3:58:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:

Originally Posted By OLNACL:
I would hope that there is more to the story then just that. Two months ago I paid off three credit cards (about 18K) and my payments had no problem and were not blocked.




probably the case

these sort of things seem to usually end up with "the rest of the story" left off



Agreed. We paid some healthy money in the last 6 months and were never under the microscope.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:12:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lord_Grey_Boots:
Betcha Homeland Security had nothing to do with it. It might have raised a flag for the CC company's fraud department, who might let the FBI know about suspected fraud.

Sounds like the CC company weenie blamed DHS and not their own policies.



They would be making a specious argument. How can it be fraud when it is a payment being made? I could see a suspicion of fraud if someone who had been charging, say, $200. a month all of a sudden coming up with a $10,000. charge. I would hope someone would look at that, but a payment?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:19:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bubblehead597:
Agreed. We paid some healthy money in the last 6 months and were never under the microscope.

If you were "under the microscope", do you think those looking through the microscope would give you a courtesy call?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:23:25 PM EDT
Something isnt being said. My parent dropped about $12,000 on one of there CC's and it went through just fine.

What was the CC? National Bank of Al-Qaeda?
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:23:28 PM EDT
I had a small limit credit card (like $500) that I used, payed up, used and payed up again in one month. The credit card company held up part of the second payment because the total of the two payments in one month was more than the limit on the card.
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:27:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:
DAMN!

I just sent in a check for quite a bit more than that to pay off my home equity line of credit, and I was about to start making some large payments to pay off my credit card over the next three months.

I wonder if I'm going to have DHS crawling up my ass too now!


you're boned
Link Posted: 3/2/2006 4:28:16 PM EDT
great, I paid 3 grand towards a signature loan in February, noe the man is going to come knocking!
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