I wonder if the US government ever considered the possibility that 6+ million snail mail letters from around the world and addressed to the “United States Department of the Treasury”, containing the sensitive whereabouts and financial data of targets of terrorism, would fall into the wrong hands while being passed around from one foreign stranger to another during its long global travel to Detroit.
“U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness… The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas… The threat of attacks against U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist violence, is expected to continue…”
U.S. Department of State – Worldwide Caution
“In today’s society, the old mailbox needs to go away,” he said. “I think you need to be real careful now and get a secured mailbox.”
200 in county recent victims of mail theft
One would think that the last thing that an American abroad would want would be for them to be fined $10000+ by the US government since a terrorist intercepted their FBAR snail mail letter titled to the “United States Department of the Treasury” and emptied their bank accounts prior to kidnapping their kids, thanks to the easily identifiable sensitive data provided.
“Thieves steal mail from postal trucks, collection boxes, apartment mailbox panels, co-op mailing racks, and neighborhood delivery and collection box units. They want your checks, your credit card applications, your bank account statements.”
United States Postal Inspection Service
What most Americans abroad probably don’t know, is that they can file FBAR online free of charge without providing terrorists an easily identifiable treat.
“BSA E-Filing is less expensive, faster, more accurate, and more secure than other filing methods. The BSA E-Filing System supports electronic filing of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) forms (either individually or in batches) through a FinCEN secure network.”
BSA E-Filing System
“NOTICE: On February 24, 2012, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a final notice requiring the electronic filing of most FinCEN reports by July 1, 2012. Institutions are strongly encouraged to begin using the BSA E-Filing System as soon as possible.”
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
Now, I don’t see the point of reporting my retirement savings and I hope that this BSA E-Filing doesn’t require for the same data to be reentered year after year over and over and over again. But, e-filing is safer and cheaper than snail mail and the application form doesn’t require Americans abroad to enter the required US state that they don’t live in.
*I just filed my 2011 FUBAR online at the BSA site. It was easy to do and you get confirmation that it is received, etc, etc. I will only have one more as of Jan 19, 2013! I hate doing it but to know it’s almost over makes it a little easier……..;-)
So you like being the input data clerk for them, do you? 🙂 I refuse to do it. If I have to input data, it will be on paper so they have to handle it again, and it costs them money to process it. I will not do their stupid work for them. I would rather fill their Post Office box with paper, and take the terrorist or theft risk. I don’t think their efile is any more secure than the mail. LOL
@ Just Me
well, when there’s only one day left and the printer isn’t working and so on and so forth…..love your sentiment though.. 🙂
And I thought I was a procrastinator! LOL
Absolutely, let them do it, let them spend the money. Amazing the goodwill that this whole incredible mess has triggered.
I agree with Just Me–make the IRS do the data input. A paper return requires that a member of the Department of Treasury open the letter, input or assess the data. Chances are that there is no one assigned to open them–Who knows?
But the threat that this post point out would not lead me to file an FBAR electronically. It creates just another reason never to file one. If a person is relinquishing US citizenship, FBARs are not even a necessary part of the exit process.
You folks are too kind and generous, being willing to put in so much effort to sacrifice so much of your valuable time endlessly for a good cause. I’d rather simply mark the “pay me to auto-file FBAR once annually” flag. This would ensure that I’d still be filing 5000 years after death, taking into consideration future upcoming regulations on brain transplants and exit prohibitions.
Here’s a question: I am filing my 6th year and final taxes for 2011 and not filing FBARs for 2011. (I did file FBARs for the previous 5 years). I am still under the impression that my yet-to-arrive CLN will be back dated to 43 years ago when I relinquished my U.S. citizenship. Do I still have to file FBARs for 2011?
Thanks for any help you can give with my FBAR question!
*@ Baird, you know I’ve been consistent all along in my response. If in your case, I wouldn’t have filed anything until I had my citizenship status clarified. If the CLN is back dated to 43 years ago, all the filing that you’ve done so far is also completely unnecessary.
If your CLN is backdated 43 years ago, the US is saying, I think, you were NOT a US citizen from that time. Why would you have to have filed FBARs if not a US citizen? I don’t think so, but then who am I to say?
@Petros and Calgary: Thanks, I agree with you. Just sitting here waiting for my CLN is making me paranoid. I did file FBARs for the past 5 years to 2010 because I wasn’t sure my CLN would be back dated. I sent them by FEDEX because I wondered how they could arrive without slipping into the wrong hands. This post by “swisspinoy” is so true. Obtaining detailed financial information of 6 million U.S. persons is a great opportunity for the unscrupulous.
Well, we all know what Schubert told us about paranoia:
May your CLN arrive SOON. And, let us know as soon as that happens so we can celebrate your success. It looks as if things are speeding up — but why moreso from the process at some Consulates than others? We want to know.
I really think, though, that you should put it out of your mind — like Petros says.
*The concerns about identity theft are indeed real. In some lesser-developed countries of the world the mail system is not a trustworthy means of transmitting confidential information.
I recall sending a certified check to the lady who was once our domestic employee when we lived in Brazil . She was Peruvian and worked for us when we lived in Peru before being transferred to Brazil. We were able to obtain a Brazilian visa so moved with us to Brazil.She was like a member of the family and we brought her with us so our small children would not lose their fluency in Spanish as they suddenly were immersed in Portuguese. And they did indeed retain it.
When we left Brazil for the US it was not possible to obtain a visa to accompany us, so we made arrangements for her to return to Peru. There she obtained employment with an Argentina-Brazilian couple and accompanied them back to Argentina when their Peruvian assignment was completed.
She became quite ill in Argentina and we sent US dollars in the form of a certified check to help her with medical expenses. The return receipt had a signature that was not hers and she never received the check. It had been stolen in the mail, the signature forged and it was deposited in the New York branch of a Brazilian bank.
Our homeowner’s insurance reimbursed us from the loss, but what it important is that the mails were violated.
When we lived in Brazil you never sent a check through the mail. Bills and accounts payable payments were always made at banks with the payment credited to the payees accounts. Commercial invoice payments were always made at banks. Checks were absolutely never mailed to pay any kind of an invoivce or bill.
The postal system there did not forward mail if you changed address eiter.. So FBAR reports sent through foreign mails are indeed an invitation to identity theft and fraud.perpetrated by US laws that require that they be sent by mail.
How paranoid one should be depends upon where one lives. For a couple of bucks, a mail clerk could hand over the US Treasury addressed letter to the highest bidder seeking:
The highest bidder would then know where the American lives, how much money he/she has, where it is stashed, his/her social security number, passport number, birth date…. everything that an American would want the Taliban to know about themselves if they lived in Afghanistan. I honestly don’t know why I’m writing this. It should be the US government who is warning us about these things. One of the first things that I wanted to know about FBAR was, what’s the fax number?
Below is a translated excerpt from a Neue Zuercher Zeitung article earlier this month where a tax auditor for the Zurich cantonal government was sentenced for using tax asset information to target and blackmail a wealthy woman.
“A 28-year-old former securities examiner of the Cantonal Finance Department was convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 28 months. …
He was addicted to gambling, had debts and worked as a securities financial auditor for the Canton of Zurich. As such, he had insight into the financial situation of many citizens. He sought to target a 67-year-old single wealthy woman from Kuesnacht, and wrote her in spring 2008 two ransom letters within 13 days in the name of “Kir’c’is Gang “. In them, he threatened the woman and her son with death if they did not pay 750 000 francs. The victim did not pay and contacted the police.”
Anytime sensitive information is transferred to anyone, there is a risk that it will fall into the wrong hands. This is what happened in this case.
So, just to help establish confidence that your FBAR data is safe in government hands, let’s just take our Drone security for an example of Government excellence and security in action…
Drone Hacked By University Of Texas At Austin Research Group
When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dared a Texas university research group to bring down a flying drone, the team accepted the challenge and did just that.
Turns out it’s not too difficult to hack a drone.
The last time that I sent Swiss chocolates to the US, they vanished at US customs, never reaching their intended destination. That wasn’t the only time. As such, I learned that my stuff is in ‘good’ hands in the US government, even without my approval of it being taken away from me against my interests. This is why I snail mailed FBAR from Treasure Island after having passed US customs.
By the way, “Happy FBAR Graduation Day” to all!!
As many of you know, if you do not file an FBAR for a given year by the June 30 due date of the following year, the IRS has 6 years following such June 30 to assess an FBAR penalty. Consequently, as of the close of business on such sixth anniversary, assessment of an FBAR penalty for such year is no longer possible. Since, as a practical matter, the IRS is not assessing any FBAR penalties today (June 30), everyone who failed to file the FBAR for 2005 has now “graduated” from possible FBAR penalties for that year.
@ Ole Michael Miller…
You bring such joy! 🙂 I am sure Senator Carl Levin is looking for a way to extend the SOL on FBAR forever. Somewhere there is a “must pass” appropriation bill that he can attach retro active rider!
@Michael, thank you for this timely reminder. Since I am no longer a citizens as of February 28, 2011, I suppose that means that I am off the hook for 2005; it remains now 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Well, that’s still six years. Crap.
I don’t file shit. I’m destitute for all they know, and that’s just fine by me.