Bank of America: To Credit or not to Credit?
By: Paul A. Ibbetson
Recent revelations have brought to the forefront financial institutions, namely Bank of America Corp, among others, that have for some time now been implementing a banking policy which allows illegal aliens with no financial background nor the customary customer identification, such as a social security number, to attain checking accounts, and after a short probationary period, credit cards (NewsMax, Bank of America Offers, 2007). These banking policies have come under attack from illegal immigration opposition groups and there have been reports that legitimate Bank of America Corp customers may close their accounts as a sign of protest to what CNNâ€™s Lou Dobbs called an â€œoutrageousâ€ credit card program (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 27, 2007).
Border security advocate and potential presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo (R, Co) brings forth the most fundamental problem that irresponsible banking procedures create today. That is, potentially unrestricted money flow to a phantom population. Tancredo states, “After September 11th, we were told that money was the lifeblood of terrorists, and that we should do everything possible to block their access to financial resources,” (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 25, 2007). Tancredoâ€™s statement is prudent as it touches a component of the larger problem that has brought forth the rise in opposition to the actions of Bank of America. It would appear that with a minimal amount of logical application one can reasonably conclude that due to the nature of the war on terror, of which a component is the reality of potential terrorist cells within the country, to fail to identify people within our borders to which U.S. financial institutions are actively giving credit, is of a great danger to the country and shows an overabundance of bad judgment. However, for those of us that endorse the capitalistic free market system, we must investigate further before placing final judgment on financial institutions that simply incorporate unpopular if not unwise business decisions.
William Gheen, director of the National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition would touch upon the question that most fundamentally addresses the issue of how Bank of America Corp, and its equivalents should be handled. While lamenting his anger over the actions of Bank of America, actions which have sparked his group to collect over 11,000 petition signatures condemning their actions, Gheen in exasperation brings the most salient question to bear by saying, “What Bank of America is doing is illegal, or should beâ€ (NewsMax, Bank of America Defends, 6, 2007). It is Gheenâ€™s question to the legality of Bank of Americaâ€™s banking procedures that I wish to address today. Is what the Bank of America doing illegal or simply a business choice that many within the country disagree with?
To answer this question one has to go no further than section 326 of the Patriot Act. Section 326 of the Patriot Act obligates the Secretary of the Treasury to create and maintain uniform standards for all financial institutions which include banks, credit unions, security dealers, etc. The goal of section 326 is to deter illegal funds being transferred to terrorist organizations as well as to serve as a deterrent to many white collar crimes. Checking Accounts, credit card applications and altering existing credit card accounts fall under section 326 of the Patriot Act. Institutions now give notice of section 326 of the Patriot Act on all documents that pertain to these transactions.
All institutions are required to verify the identity of all patrons opening accounts as well as insure the maintenance and up keep of all records. Additionally, institutions are required to maintain the identity of patrons to a level that will allow identifications of those who may appear on any provided list of terrorist suspects or members of terrorist organizations (EPIC, 2001). The most common collected information by institutions includes name, date of birth, address, social security number, and drivers license (Merrimack, 2007). If patrons do not have a social security card, additional government documents are required and the patrons are then subjected to a higher level of scrutiny. Failure to seek, collect, and maintain identifying information on all customers by financial institutions is a violation of section 326 of the Patriot Act. In some financial institutions the mandates of section 326 are coined as the â€œKnow Your Customer Rulesâ€. Is there any question as to whether Bank of America really knows the customers that it gives credit to? I think the answer is that they definitely do not. It would appear that the opposition to the practices of Bank of America stated by Tancredo, Dobbs, and Gheen are not only morally and logically supported, but also legally valid.
Electronic Privacy Information Center [EPIC]. (2001). HR 3162 RDS: 107th Congress. Retrieved September 25, 2004, from http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html
Merrimack Mortgage Company, Inc. (2007). USA Patriot Act of 2001,Section 326, Customer Identification and Disclosure. Retrieved October 6, 2006 from http://images.agentcenter.com/client/8/8/6/23688/Patriot_Act.pdf
NewsMax. (2007). Bank of America Offers Credit Cards to Illegals. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2007/2/13/82621.shtml.
NewsMax. (2007). Bank of America Defends Credit Cards for Illegals. Retrieved March 4, 2007, from http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2007/2/23/90226.shtml.
Paul A. Ibbetson is a published author and lecturer on the Patriot Act. He is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelorâ€™s and Masterâ€™s degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and is currently completing his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of the book â€œLiving Under The Patriot Act: Educating A Societyâ€ that is available for purchase NOW! at www.patriotactresearch.com as well as other major book outlets. Paul is a regular writer for the Conservative Crusader as well as several other online websites.
Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and his Ph.D. in Sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of several books including the 2011 release “The Good Fight: Why Conservatives Must Take Back America.” Paul is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association’s 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 award-winning radio program, Conscience of Kansas airing on KRMR The Patriot 105.7 FM, www.ibbetsonusa.com. For interviews or questions, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org