I have been an active Paypal user for a while now, and I was surprised when Paypal sent me a letter asking me to verify that indeed I am not laundering money. Do I need to send photos of my apartment so it is apparent I do not have a printing press at home?
Nope, I needed to send some ID and utility bills. The process was fairly simple, I took a photo of my phone bill, my AmEx report and both sides of my National ID. In the Paypal documentation they say a phone bill is not ok, but since my apartment is not on my name I don't pay bills per se. Nevertheless, I sent these all off.
After some mucking about (the form was not the best), Paypal accepted these documents and this, as a lot of government and verification processes puzzles me a bit. I mean I could've Photoshopped all that right? Unless they actually checked with my government and bank and carrier service, which I'm sure they didn't, they replied in like 2 days, they can't be really sure.
My reasoning is that someone like me would have to go to more trouble to prove his identity and location truthfully, than a money launderer would have to go to to forge this stuff. If I didn't have a camera I would've had to spend about $30 to photocopy, print, scan and so on. A money launderer may have to pay $1,000 for a good forgery, but hey, he has a printing press right, money comes easily.
The point is, that all I proved is that I have an Internet connection and probably an ID. Is this a process that is supposed to deter people on the wrong side of the law? I doubt if it does, it did deter me though, my account was even frozen for a while!
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.