First, the thing about burning onions: This is what the Head Start teachers taught my 3 year old to say when she is irritated. She loves to say “You’re burning my onions, Mom” with a big exasperated sigh.
Second, I am a patriotic American, I’m sure I am. And I know why the Patriot Act is in place, of course. But when I’m put through a stupid, ongoing rigamaroll in the name of the Patriot Act, well, it burns my onions.
The situation that has been going on for over a week now:
I’m trying to get overdraft protection for my personal checking account with Key Bank. I already have a business checking account with them, a business credit card, a commercial loan, a personal savings and personal checking. I’m told I’m considered a “preferred customer” for having multiple accounts with them.
So the hitch is not a financial one. The hitch is that I live in Tok, Alaska and we do not have numbers on our houses.
My friend Betsy of Small Biz Survival saw my tweet on Twitter complaining about yet another call from Key Bank looking for further proof of residence and that I am who I say I am. I had already sent them scans of my drivers license (which has my PO Box as the address) and my social security card to prove I’m a U.S. citizen and a bill from Alaska Power & Telephone which shows my PO Box as my address – but with some puzzling letters or an abbreviation above the PO Box and under my name.
“The underwriters want to know what that means,” said the kind woman at Key Bank who was getting an earful from me for putting me through the ringer for a small overdraft account. “This is because of the Patriot Act,” she said as way of explanation for the hoops they’ve had me jumping through.
I called AP&T while still on the phone with Key Bank to learn that the abbreviation stood for the code they used to identify the house where the service for power and telephone was rendered because we do not have house numbers in Tok.
Turns out, it was AP&T’s own abbreviation that stood for Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Rental. Yes, I guess I forgot to mention that my husband works for US Fish and Wildlife which is part of the Department of Interior for the United States Government. My husband is a U.S. federal government employee. We are living in government housing. And THEY don’t even have numbers on their houses here.
Betsy had some advice:
Of course, I knew all about address tricks for when you don’t have a number on your house and blogged about it here.
I have no idea if I’ll get the overdraft protection or not. Because I live in Tok Alaska where they don’t have numbers on houses. This is not just Rural America – this is more like Frontier America. These places still exist and they are part of the U. S. of A. It is a shame that the Patriot Act causes such as hassle for real Americans in real communities in the actual United States. I’d hate to see what would happen if I had a more ethnic-sounding name or a strong accent on top of living in rural parts.
I shudder to think.
How has the Patriot Act worked for — or against — you? Just curious.
UPDATE 13 April 2010
Today Key Bank underwriters said that the power bill and social security card and driver’s license was NOT good enough. Still rejecting me as a U.S. citizen with a verifiable USA residence. I now need to locate and send one of the following.
Mind you: No matter how you slice or dice it, we still have no PHYSICAL ADDRESSES for our houses in Tok, Alaska. I’ve even given them miles from the Alaska Highway which some people use (.4 miles) and the fake address (using post office box number as a pretend house number – this was advice given to me by the USPS i.e. United States Postal Service i.e. US GOVT. Take THAT Patriot Act.)
1. Social Security award letter containing social security number
2. Utility Bill associated with physical property location (i.e., gas, water, electric, sewer, water, cable and phone line)-bill, invoice or statement may not have date older than 60 days old.
3. U.S. license (may or may not contact social security number
4. Social Security administration signed letter
5. IRS tax reporting W-2 or 1099
6. U.S. state ID card (may or may not contact social security number
7. Native American tribal ID card
8. Voter Registration Card (valid registration card must have correct physical address and name)
9. Real estate tax bill-not older than one year
10. Real estate rental or lease agreement
11. Insurance coverage or statement (commonly required in real property and commercial equipment/inventory lending)
12. Real property deed
13. Student ID, letter/invoice from school admissions or grades/transcripts from school records (these should not be older than 90 days)
14. Current letter from employer regarding 24/7 moving and/or remote work assignments (used to verify long haul truck drivers, commercial fishing boat, cruise boat and freighter hands, field scientists and researches)
15. Letters from long-term heath care providers such as nursing/retirement homes
16 April 2010
Finally sent them the 8 page lease agreement with USF&W, part of the United States government, of course. That document did not have an address other than the abbreviation for Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, the word “Rental” and a number with 7 zeros in front of it. That was it. The underwriters could have balked at the total lack of address, however, I think they saw the seal of the U.S. government and realized the error of their ways. Whew.