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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Please Tell My Bank I'm Not an al-Qaeda Cell

I went to my bank a few weeks ago to open a new checking account. What a pain in the ass, due largely to new national security measures.

The last time I opened a checking account, it took about ten minutes and consisted of answering a few basic questions about my address, how to spell my name and the appearance of my checks.

No so anymore.

I answered some basic questions about why I wanted the account. (Odd, I didn't remember needing to justify in the past why I wanted to allow a bank to earn interest on my money.) The banker also wanted to know if I planned on depositing more $15,000 at a time. Tired of the ridiculousness of it all, I told him the Columbian drug lords I did business with operated on more of a barter system, so little cash was involved.

"You're kidding, right?" he asked?

"Yes," I answered.

Then the banker called a different office to give the information about what to put on my checks. He had to repeat himself several times.

"Were they having trouble with the name?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "The support office for this function is in India, and sometimes we have trouble understanding each other's English.

Jesus, it's only a matter of time before Bombay runs this outfit.

Then he had me sign a form swearing to the truthfulness of everything I'd told him.

"May I have a copy of this?" I asked.

"No," he said. "We don't allow copies of this outside our bank."

Feeling annoyed, I answered, "You'd have to, if I subpoenaed it."

"Yes," he answered. "We share records with the government in bank fraud investigations."


Exasperated, I got in one final question. "Are you sending my form to India?"

"No," he said. "We keep those here."

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