Reader perpetualWAR recounted this experience in comments yesterday:
This site has been bantering around for quite some time about the banks trying to end the use of cash. Got a story I’d like to tell you about.
I decided because of this banter, that I was going to open a new bank account at a local bank (not one of the criminal entities) and I was going to refuse the debit card and refuse checks. I was only going to deposit checks and withdraw cash. After about 4 months of this activity…….depositing checks and only withdrawing cash……NO. OTHER. ACTIVITY. First, the bank branch manager takes me out of the bank line and asks me why I am withdrawing cash over and over. I told him, “Because it’s mine.” And then he said, “We like to get to know our customers, that’s why I’m asking.” I said, “Do you know her?” *pointing to the gal in line before me. He didn’t answer. I knew that he was harassing me about the way in which I was using the bank. They don’t like people withdrawing cash.
Then, just yesterday I got a call from this same branch manager (this is Banner Bank in WA) and he says, “Apparently, you did not receive our letter we sent 2 weeks ago?” And I said, “No.” He said the bank has made the decision to close your account. I said, “Please give me a reason.” He refused. So, I said, “The only activity I conducted at your bank was to deposit checks and withdraw cash. It’s not the depositing of checks that is a problem. It is the withdrawing cash and refusing to be tracked by your debit and credit cards, isn’t it?” He agreed that this was the reason they were closing my account.
So, anyone here that believes cash isn’t at risk is absolutely in denial. The banks are trying to rid our system of cash. Believe me. I have just seen first hand evidence. Just yesterday.
As reader Jim Haygood pointed out, and even the branch manager’s choice of words appears to confirm, the bank may have been acting on “Know Your Customer” rules, treating him as a money launderer for making too many cash withdrawals. But if the rules actually specify “frequent or large cash withdrawals” as opposed to “unusually high proportion of activity in cash” they aren’t targeting money launderers. Money launderers want to get cash into the banking system through legitimate-looking channels. If you see a restaurant, food purveyor, or a low end jewelry or accessories stores that stays in business despite never have any customers in them, the two most likely explanations are: rich husband keeping bored wife busy with a store as her toy or money laundering. And in New York City, there are a lot of retail stores that fit the profile.
Readers: have you had any experiences with banks being difficult about cash transactions? And to those of you who know retail banking: was Banner Bank making a reasonable interpretation of “Know Your Customer” rules or not?