Friday, April 14, 2006

Banking Terror

Amy (a pseudonym), who lives in Prague, went to London for the weekend. On Friday night, Amy went to a cashpoint to get money. She put her American Wells Fargo card into the machine, put in her PIN, and got a message back saying that her card was not valid. As any of us would do, Amy tried several other cashpoints, but all of them returned the same message.

Finally, Amy called the Wells Fargo 24-hour service number that was on the back of her card.

“Hi, I’m in London and suddenly my card won’t work. I can’t get any money out anywhere.”

The Wells Fargo representative was very apologetic and explained to Amy that the US government had just made certain countries off limits for cash withdrawals.

“What?!! I live in Prague and I am in London for the weekend and I need money. What is going on?”

According to the Wells Fargo representative, the US government had taken action to make sure that terrorists would not have access to cash reserves in the US. She was not sure exactly why, but it was in one way or another connected to terrorist threats in countries such as the UK, Italy and Poland, to name a few.

Amy protested that she had not been informed. The Wells Fargo representative told Amy that the bank had not informed any of their customers for the reason that the bank was fighting the government mandate. She admitted that Wells Fargo had not only not called or mailed letters to their customers, but that they had not even so much as posted a notice on their website.

Amy was desperate as any of us would be, caught in a foreign country without access to our own cash. Wells Fargo had a solution, that Amy should locate a Western Union office and they would wire her money from her account at Wells Fargo’s own expense. All well and good, but it was Friday night and Amy would not be able to collect the money until the next day. Luckily for Amy, her travelling companion could access his cash so they were not stuck for money.

Of course, the solution offered by Wells Fargo does not even touch on the issue at hand. We all expect to be able to stick our card into a machine almost anywhere in the world and get cash out. We all take for granted that our own government will not interfere with our personal banking. Guess what, kids – don’t take that for granted anymore.

And if anyone can find any more information about this problem, please post a comment.

* This story is hearsay, so please, if you have the facts, post corrections.


Riggs is Crazy said...

I'm in San Francisco, which is like a foreign country and my Wells Fargo card worked fine this morning.

Anonymous said...

Im in DC and Riggs's credit card number i stole worked fine too.

Anonymous said...


When you take money out in San Fran do they automatically make you give half of it to a less fortunate person?

Tits Malone said...


It doesn't make sense to make international cashpoints off limits when VISA is accepted everywhere...and they have cheques now that are just as easily used as cash.

If I was stuck in Dublin unable to access my cash in Toronto, I would have gone hysterical.

It seems the US government is determined to make travel as inconvenient as possible for its citizens.

Anonymous said...

It happened to me once as well. I switched banks. It depends on the bank.
Bottom line you should have access to your money anytime anywhere...imagine being stuck in the red light district in Amsterdam ready to score?

On another note. Anyone see V for Vendetta? This is a great movie! It gives you an idea of where the US is headed though most of you know.

There is a spoof called American Dreams coming out. It spoofs American Idol (love that show!) and Bush. I can't wait to see it.