Privacy

Don't Leave Home

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You're on vacation overseas. You reach to settle the dinner check, and then you realize: Your wallet's gone. Your credit cards are missing. You've been robbed. What will you do? While you wait for replacement traveler's checks and credit cards, you ask Aunt Sally back home to wire you some money. No problem–as long as she first checks with your Uncle Sam.

As the drug war moves into the Information Age, the Clinton administration has proposed new regulations for wiring money overseas. Called "another nail in the coffin of financial privacy" by Financial Privacy Report Publisher Mike Ketcher, the new rules would force anyone sending more than $750 abroad to provide identification to the financial institution wiring the money and have the transaction reported to the Treasury Department.

Current regulations require that all cash transfers of more than $3,000 be recorded by the wiring service and that all wires over $10,000 be reported to the government. The Treasury Department reports an increase in the number of transfers below the current reporting thresholds from the United States to Colombia, attributing it to drug dealers sending money to their higher-ups in South America.

Yet law-abiding people who wire money in amounts below the reporting threshold may be under the watchful eyes of law enforcement. In Texas, where businesses must report financial transactions of more than $1,000, the Federal Register notes that "surveillance" has been used to track the difference between the "number of people observed patronizing" a money-transfer business and "the number of customers reflected in business records." Treasury predicts that merely filling out additional paperwork will cost those who wire money overseas an extra $2.4 million. The department is expected to hand down the new Bank Secrecy Act regulations by the end of the summer.

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  1. Before You Leave

    – Depending on the duration of your vacation abroad, pack sufficient medicines to meet any specific needs of your family members. You may need to bring along your family’s medical information, prescription medications etc.

    – Inform your trusted relatives and friends of your itinerary so that you can be contacted for emergencies. However, avoid discussing your absence in public.

    – If you leave your house vacated, you may want to stop or suspend all deliveries ? an accumulation of newspapers and mail will attract the attention of would-be burglars. It is highly advisable to ask your trusted relatives, friends or neighbour to check your home regularly and collect mail and newspapers for you.

    – Make sure that electrical appliances are unplugged, the gas supply is shut off, and the water taps (or supply) are tightly turned off.

    – Clean out your wallet/purse before you go; take only essential credit cards. Plan to use credit cards or traveler’s checks instead of cash wherever possible.

    – Pack things of value and great necessity such as medicine and jewelry in a carry-on baggage item that will stay with you.

    – Get to know more about the crime situation in the places you are going to visit so that you can be better prepared.

    – Discuss with your family members about the safety and security precautions described in this article. Set some essential safety rules for your kids.

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