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Monday, October 27, 2014

Protecting Against Asset Seizures

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There's an uproar in the media about asset seizures and the seemingly, "We don't care," attitude by various government agencies.

I started in banking back in 1977 while attending college.  I eventually moved up the ladder and was put in charge of a department that received all of the subpoena requests from the various local, state and federal police agencies.

They may have suspected one of our customers of some fraudulent or illegal act, and wanted to prove their case by poring over the bank records of the accused.

Back then, there was a law called The Bank Secrecy Act.  The act was in place to protect the rights of the accused from potential government abuses.  It supported the whole idea of, "Innocent until proven guilty."

When my department got the subpoena, by law, we had to contact the customer, and they had 10 business days to hire an attorney to fight the records seizure and protect their privacy.

A judge would then review the evidence provided by the police, compare it with the evidence provided by our customer, and the judge would then determine whether there was probable cause to allow us to release the records.

In short, I was required by law to help protect the privacy of my customer who had entrusted their money with my bank.

Fast forward to today.  There is still a Bank Secrecy Act, but its intent now is to protect the secrecy of the authorities that want access to your account records.

It is now a federal crime for the bank to so much as inform you that they have reported activity on your account, provided records from your account, or opened your safe deposit box for a police look-see.

From Wikipedia:
There are heavy penalties for individuals and institutions that fail to file CTRs, MILs, or SARs. There are also penalties for a bank which discloses to its client that it has filed a SAR about the client. Penalties include heavy fines and prison sentences. 
A financial institution is not allowed to inform a business or consumer that a SAR is being filed, and all the reports mandated by the BSA are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Under the guise of terrorism, racketeering, drug dealing and other infamous crimes, you have no financial privacy.  We're all considered as guilty until proven innocent.

Now, you may be a law-abiding citizen - just like the vast, VAST majority of American citizens.  You think it's OK these privacy invasions occur, as you'll never get caught up in the government dragnet.

"If you've done nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide."

Think again.
Take the case of a Long Island based candy and cigarette distribution company that had just under $500,000 taken from their bank accounts and had, on their accountant’s advice, made daily deposits of less than $10,000. 
Despite the fact that there have been absolutely no criminal charges—or, for that matter, any indication that the company was involved in anything other than selling candy and cigarettes to retailers, the IRS has refused to give back the money. No criminal charges filed…no trial or conviction for some nefarious activity..nothing.
Not only can they gain access to your records, but asset seizures happen in a blink of the eye - with no prior warning.

Poof!  It's all gone.

You may think that this is just an exception to the rule.  The government would never do these horrible things to the wrong people on a regular basis.

Think again.
The New York Times reports that there were 114 of these seizures in 2005. However, in 2012, the last statistics available, the number had grown to 639 seizures. 
It get’s worse. Of the 639 seizures in 2012, only twenty percent of these seizures turned out to involve cases where criminal charges were ever pursued. 
Think about that— a full eighty percent of the bank accounts emptied by the IRS in 2012 involved completely innocent people and businesses.
Unwarranted asset seizures aren't the exception, they're the rule.
OK, so they incorrectly took your money.  Once you get it cleared up, you figure they'll just re-deposit the money back into your account, and reimburse you for your costs to recover your own money.

Figure again.
Instead of immediately returning the money to the innocent business, what do you imagine the IRS did? 
They offered up a partial settlement. 
In other words, having learned that they had improperly raided this business’ bank account and taken a whole bunch of money—leaving the business to borrow $300,000 to stay in business—they now want to keep a bunch of that money. 
How does that not have the odor of extortion?

How do you protect yourself?

We're not about whining here at BoomerPreps, we're about doing.  Doing what it takes to protect our assets and increase our independence.

Asset seizures can't happen if they don't know you have... or where it's located.

Keep as little money in your bank account as is possible.  Just enough to cover your monthly bills and some emergency needs.

Eventually, take everything else out.  And that includes the contents of your safe deposit box. That will get picked clean as well.  PLUS since there's no official record of what's in your box (like a monthly statement for your checking account) it's your word against theirs over the contents they seize.

Guess who wins that debate.

All of your other liquid assets should be in cash, precious metals and gems (ONLY if you know what you're doing) - basically any hard asset that can be converted back to cash in a reasonable amount of time.

TIP:  Keep your withdrawal receipts for the cash and precious metal purchase receipts.  You may have to prove ownership and source for the cash and precious metals at some time in the future.

Yes, I know it's insane, but the rules have changed.  Adapt to the change.

There is a potential downside to this strategy:  You now become fully responsible for the care and protection of those assets.  DO NOT take this responsibility lightly.

I suggest you start slowly, becoming comfortable with your process, and the idea that your bank is not a great place for your assets.

Read and re-read these articles we've done on this subject.

Building A Cache
Hidden Cache Locations
Preventative Home Security
Protecting Valuable Records (much of it applies to this subject as well)

And perhaps most critical -
Operational Security – Shhhhhhh

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Copyright 2014 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


capn,matt said...

Its amazing how much personal library we as Americans have relinquished to the governing class of bottom feeders. Question, I'm new to metals and only have a few hundred oz. Of silver. Im thinking of keeping a ratio of 100:1 silver gold, I have noticed eagels are 90% and other coins like maples are .9999 fine, why are they the same price? Thanks for the insight, capnmatt

Chief Instructor said...

Eagles and Krugerrands are 22 karat, which is 91.7% pure. The Maples, Pandas, and Philharmonics are 24 karat, .9999 pure.

They ALL contain 1 ounce of pure gold. The Eagles and Krugs weigh 1.0909 ounces in total.

Generally, Eagles are the most expensive, then Pandas or Maples, then everything else. It's driven by demand. Americans want American coins!

Unabashed plug: This and lots more stuff is covered in The Beginners Guild To Precious metals. Ad link is in the upper right hand corner of the page ;-)