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Tag: account

Be careful what you write in the memo field

Bruce Francis wrote a check to his dog walker this month the same way he always does — online.

He logged on to his Chase account from his home in the San Francisco area, filled out the payment form, and in the memo field he typed the name of his dog, Dash.

dashDash is a 9-year-old pit bull and a certified therapy dog who helps Francis deal with multiple sclerosis.

Later, though, the dog walker reported to him that she never got the money.

Francis logged back into his account and saw he had a message that his transaction had been “flagged,” and the money had not been sent to the intended recipient.

The message said his payment was “under compliance department review for a possible OFAC or JPM risk policy issue.” It asked him to provide an explanation of what DASH was, and, if it was a company, where it was based.

(OFAC — though I’d guess maybe only one of out of every 50 Americans knows this — stands for Office of Foreign Assets Control. It’s part of the Treasury Department.)

Bruce called OFAC, and was informed that the transaction was flagged because his dog’s name is similar to the word DAESH, a term for ISIS in the Islamic world.

“I thought to myself, ‘Great, they’re stopping the world’s stupidest terrorist,'” Francis told KTVU.

What happened to Francis isn’t that unusual, said Edward Hasbrouck, who represents a civil liberties group called the Identity Project.

Banks are required to scan all the financial transactions of their customers and turn over anything suspicious to the Treasury Department.

“What happens is that the government requires the banks to become in effect, outsourced spies for the government,” Hasbrouck said.

A Chase spokesperson issued this statement to KTVU: “If a name on the OFAC list appears on a payment, we are required to review it. This is an important part of ensuring that crime does not filter through the us banking system. In this instance, the payment was flagged, reviewed and eventually released.”

Francis didn’t seem too bothered by it all. If it’s an intrusion, it’s a necessary one, he said.

“I think anything we can do to stop the terrorists and the funding of terrorists, let’s do it. And if it means an inconvenience to me and my dog walker then that’s a price I’m totally willing to pay.”