Like many of you, I have read a number of articles regarding various currency controls being implemented by retail banks. There are countless stories on line about people being told:
That last link, by the way, isn't to a news article - it's from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which uses a .gov URL. Note what constitutes a "supicious transaction" warranting a report to the federal government:
So today, as I am home recuperating from hernia surgery, I decided to be productive. So I went to the bank and withdrew $7,500.
Depending on who you are, $7,500 is a fortune, a modest amount, or a bet on a putt in a golf game. Regardless of where one might fall in the income spectrum, I wanted to have a substantial withdrawal that did not run afoul of the mandatory reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act ($10,000). So I randomly picked $7,500 as my withdrawal amount.
I wanted to stack the deck in my favor, so I dressed for the occasion. Changing out of my Under Armour uniform (I own stock in UA), I put on a business casual outfit so I could dress to impress.
I arrived around 2 PM in the afternoon, after the lunch rush but before the afternoon rush hour. The lobby was relatively empty. One other customer was being helped by one of the two tellers on duty.
The young man who waited on me was pleasant enough. I greeted him warmly and offered both my check for $7,500 along with my driver's license. He did not flinch, although his teller colleague seemed to be rather surprised that I was asking for that much money.
He then asked how I wanted it back. I suspect my response had much to do with his demeanor, as I asked for it back in a variety of denominations, hitting every single sized note in his drawer. (In an abundance of caution, let me affirmatively state I have no intention of using this currency for any illegal activity.)
Before he wanted to count out the money, he asked me whether I used the bank's online app. I told him I used it occasionally but didn't really have much use for it. He wanted to demonstrate it to me using the bank's iPad, in return for two, $1.00 deposits into my account. I wasn't sure what the right answer here was, since a) I didn't want to waste time as I had other places to be, and b) I didn't want my failure to participate to trigger some sort of red flag. After we both fumbled around with the iPad to make the whopping $2.00 deposit, he got back to business.
This is where the rubber met the road. I fully expected the manager to come out and harass me and create all sorts of excuses/invasions of privacy, but none of that happened. The guy actually had $7,500 accessible at his station. He pulled it out, counting all of it either by hand or by machine for me to see (except for the three bundles of $1 bills, each bundle worth $100.)
What did trouble me a bit was the fact there were other customers in the lobby and at other positions on the counter. Those paying attention clearly realized what I was doing, and that I'd be walking out of the building with a 5.11 bag filled with over seven grand.
That's when Slick arrived. I don't know if that's his name, but that's who he reminded me of. Male, mid to late 30s, hair slicked back, shirt unbuttoned half way down his chest to expose a really bitchin' silver plated chain necklace like you'd see at a flea market. His internet was down and so he needed some of those "cheesy credit card paper things" to transact business. Fortunately, he was drawing a lot of attention to himself - not in a rude or abrasive way, to be fair - and thus the rest of the lobby focused more on his pressing cyber issues rather than the fact I was about to walk out of there with a huge wad of cash.
Needless to say, my situational awareness was very high. At one point, I turned on the camera of my cell phone, put it in selfie mode, and used it to scan the lobby behind me.
After the transaction was completed, I wished the teller "Merry Christmas" (I was a bank teller as a kid, so I can relate to what he does for a living), and departed. Eyes up. Man purse loaded up with C.R.E.A.M. Full scan on.
I got in my truck, looking for people who might be following me. I had another stop to make, and I wasn't about to leave my bag in the truck this time of year. So I slung it over my shoulder and carried inside, mailing a copy of Pivot Points to an acquaintance for an Amazon review.
And now I'm writing this, but not before safely storing the money away from my home at a secure location. (That's a story for another day.)
I hope this has been of some help to you. It was a good exercise for me to do, so that when people ask me my thoughts on the subject, I can give them an assessment based upon personal experience.
Having said all of that, I still believe we need to remain vigilant. There's nothing inherently evil about cash, although many government planners would beg to differ. When I was a kid, my dad would routinely transact farm and other business in large sums of cash...mainly because those with whom he was doing business preferred that.
But these are different times. We need to plan accordingly, with accurate information we have verified for ourselves when we can.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.