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Weekly term: currency transaction report

September 28, 2011

A currency transaction report is a form that forfeits your privacy by turning over your address, occupation, social security number, and several other sensitive items to a cashier, bank representative, or casino employee who completes the paperwork and send it to the Feds.  This is required for every transaction over $10,000 even if the cashier doesn’t even find it suspicious!

The textbook definition is a little gentler:

A Currency Transaction Report (CTR) must be filed for each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer, by, through or to a financial institution, which involves a transaction in currency of more than $10,000.*

The net result?  Some people say there has been an increase of detected financial crimes, especially money laundering, since this was enacted in the 1970s. A 1991 report said that law enforcement found the reports “extremely useful,” although no data were provided to support that assertion.

A cottage industry of software vendors sells products to financial institutions to make the forms easier to file.  Millions of people’s personal information is submitted in these reports annually to the government with little discernible evidence of successfully prevented or prosecuted financial crimes.

*Steiner, Howard and Marini, Stephen L., Independent Review for Banks:  The Complete BSA/AML Audit Workbook, (ImpactAML-INX3 Financial Press, 2008).

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