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Another case: Moneybookers "locked" my account without any notice
Thread poster: Minoru Kuwahara

Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 14:41
English to Japanese
+ ...
Jun 29, 2010

Hi colleagues,

Sorry to bring up this topic again, but similarly to some of your cases here, they suddenly "locked" my moneybookers account without any precaution short time ago after I was transferred to it a large sum of payment. And likewise, they request me to become a "merchant" member; otherwise, my account might not have a chance to be unlocked at all. Meanwhile, I received the same emails twice from them which require the following identification materials (that I copy from their email content).

=====copy from here=====
• Color copy of your international passport - both sides please
• Address verification (Paper based business bank account statement received by post *preferred* or a recent utility bill, not older than 3 month)
• Business explanation (URL, Sole-trader status, Business activities)
• Proof of business activity (Certificate of incorporation,) - not applicable for sole-traders
• Share ownership (including the percentage of the share and monetary value) and names of company directors - not applicable for sole-traders
=====copy end=====

First of all, I wonder if I really have to become a "merchant" member in order that my account is to be unlocked. I have been a moneybookers account holder for many years, but have not seen so far any definite benefit to become a merchant member.

Also, I have actually a bit of doubt on the kinds of proofs above.

Passport - It's nearly 5 years since I traveled abroad last time. Ever since then, I have not updated it. It's a bit ridiculous to issue a new one solely for using it as an identification. I assume a driver license would be alternative, but in that case, my driver license is printed only in Japanese (I'm a resident in Japan.) Does it suffice (without an English version)? Apparently no instruction.

Address verification - Here as well, if such a proof is printed only in a local language, do they refuse it?

Business explanation - To indicate "freelance translator" is accepted? I'm not a registered business owner, but only a freelancer.

Proof of business activity/Share ownership - no way.


Besides, they require me to fill in a Merchant Questionnaire in which most of the questions are related to company identity, which supposedly do not apply to a freelance translator.

Is anyone in the same situation? If so, how are you copying with their request?



[Edited at 2010-06-29 10:55 GMT]


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 06:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Scam? Jun 29, 2010

This sounds to me like a strong bid for identity theft. Please be very cautious about sending any of the information requested. I suggest you contact Moneybookers yourself (ie you instigate the correspondence) and ask for information.

Good luck


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Magdalena Szewciów  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:41
Member (2008)
English to Polish
+ ...
same here Jun 29, 2010

I have the same problem, but I was lucky - I received it RIGHT AFTER I transferred the last payment from MB into my bank account. I even called them to ask why I have to verify my self for the second time (the last time was in January 2010). The lady on the UK hotline told me nothing really. I mean she told me these were the procedures. Huh. When I asked if I would be forced to re-verify every 6 months, she did not know.

Oh, well, I'll have to scan my blood ID and other documents and send it - apparently there is no other option. But it ... well, let's just say it makes me very angry.


NB: this is not a scam, at least not in my case. PLUS they ask to upload the scanned documents at their webpage, so it seems safe.

[Edited at 2010-06-29 11:15 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:41
English to German
+ ...
Please allow me to disagree Jun 29, 2010

mulberryvalley wrote:

I'm not a registered business owner, but only a freelancer.

Proof of business activity/Share ownership - no way.



I probably have read a hundred of forum posts in this regard during the past couple of years, and I will never understand why freelancers don't consider themselves as businesses and act as such. What are you, a day laborer? I think not.

Back to the topic:

Moneybookers as well as PayPal have a cap on the cash flow allowed on private accounts. This is to avoid being considered an aide in money laundering. Makes sense?

So, if you start receiving amounts that are exceeding a particular amount within a given time span, they will freeze your account. Is there a possibility to provide an ID using a credit card? This would be the easiest way.

Best of luck - I hope you can solve this problem quickly and easily!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some guesses and quips Jun 29, 2010

mulberryvalley wrote:
1. Color copy of your international passport - both sides please
2. Address verification (Paper based business bank account statement received by post *preferred* or a recent utility bill, not older than 3 month)
3. Business explanation (URL, Sole-trader status, Business activities)


1. My international passport does not contain any identifying information on the front or back, so although I'd be happy to send them a colour copy of the front and back of my passport, it is unlikely that they'd be able to do anything with it. The front contains the word "passport" and the name of my country (South Africa), in English and French, and my country's coat of arms, and the back contains no text at all.

If they won't accept your ID card, then perhaps your only option is to get a passport. I hope it i easy and straightforward in your country to get a passport.

In my country, getting a passport takes about 6 months. Since one can't use a local passport in my own country as a form of identification (you must use the official identity book), there's very little reason for anyone to get a passport in my country unless they intend to travel abroad.

2. It is amazing to see how companies just assume that the world works the way it works in their own country. No doubt one can't do business in the UK without a "business bank account", but in my country there is nothing that stops you from doing business with a personal bank account or even without a bank account (although not having any bank account will be difficult, and you won't be able to use Moneybookers then).

3. If you're a freelancer, then you're a sole trader, as I understand it.


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 14:41
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a scam Jun 29, 2010

aceavila - Noni wrote:

This sounds to me like a strong bid for identity theft. Please be very cautious about sending any of the information requested. I suggest you contact Moneybookers yourself (ie you instigate the correspondence) and ask for information.

Good luck


Thanks, aceavila, however, I have once received a support email directly from moneybookers support webpage and the address is the same, so as Magdalena says, it's, at least, not a scam, I believe.


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 14:41
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no reason/explanation for frequent verification procedures? Jun 29, 2010

Hi Magdalena,

Thank you for your information which does clarify something about how they're doing.

Magdalena Szewciów wrote:

I have the same problem, but I was lucky - I received it RIGHT AFTER I transferred the last payment from MB into my bank account. I even called them to ask why I have to verify my self for the second time (the last time was in January 2010). The lady on the UK hotline told me nothing really. I mean she told me these were the procedures. Huh. When I asked if I would be forced to re-verify every 6 months, she did not know.


So you seem to have been lucky in your case. I almost laughed, reading the support pesonnel's answer in the last line. Didn't she really know anything on how frequently the "procedure" of verification occur?


Oh, well, I'll have to scan my blood ID and other documents and send it - apparently there is no other option. But it ... well, let's just say it makes me very angry.


Sure, I'd feel the same way in your shoes. It's nothing other than tedious to be required of the same verification process every 6 months or so.


NB: this is not a scam, at least not in my case. PLUS they ask to upload the scanned documents at their webpage, so it seems safe.

[Edited at 2010-06-29 11:15 GMT]


That's true.

mulberryvalley
Minoru Kuwahara


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:41
English to German
+ ...
This is not a mere assumption, Samuel Jun 29, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:


2. It is amazing to see how companies just assume that the world works the way it works in their own country. No doubt one can't do business in the UK without a "business bank account", but in my country there is nothing that stops you from doing business with a personal bank account or even without a bank account (although not having any bank account will be difficult, and you won't be able to use Moneybookers then).

3. If you're a freelancer, then you're a sole trader, as I understand it.


In most countries you need some kind of registration with the tax authorities, right? Otherwise "making money under the table" would be legal. Worldwide. If you are a sole proprietor or if you have a hundred employees doesn't matter.

This Moneybooker issue has nothing to do with the bank accounts they are connected to. A German colleague's Moneybooker account was frozen because the amount received was too high. Even when living on Mars, mulberryvalley wouldn't be exempt from any regulations set up by a British company.


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 14:41
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
freelance translator - "unincorporated enterprise" Jun 29, 2010

Hi Nicole,

Thank you for your inputs.

Nicole Schnell wrote:

mulberryvalley wrote:

I'm not a registered business owner, but only a freelancer.

Proof of business activity/Share ownership - no way.



I probably have read a hundred of forum posts in this regard during the past couple of years, and I will never understand why freelancers don't consider themselves as businesses and act as such. What are you, a day laborer? I think not.


Let me correct, but the point is how we're doing our business in what form and title. In Japan, where I reside, a freelancer would be generally not regarded as a "business owner", but as a "sole proprietor", that is, identified as an "unincorporated enterprise". I have no objection, in that sense, that a freelance translator is a sole trader or contractor and acts as such as a basis.
And you know what moneybookers asks for? That's all evidence of our identification of an "incorporated" business (company structure, name of directors, list of shareholders, name of subsidiaries, etc.).


Back to the topic:

Moneybookers as well as PayPal have a cap on the cash flow allowed on private accounts. This is to avoid being considered an aide in money laundering. Makes sense?

So, if you start receiving amounts that are exceeding a particular amount within a given time span, they will freeze your account. Is there a possibility to provide an ID using a credit card? This would be the easiest way.


So I sum up the reason why they are apparently so strict on our verification is to keep enough cash on existing accounts and to avoid money laundering. That does sound like making sense, although it will be certainly not quite favorable for us to go through the verification process every now and then when we receive more than certain amount of money. With the policy as it is, it could never be a payment option with agencies we're working with regularly.

As far as I notice, there is no instruction on verification via credit card. I will look into it.


Best of luck - I hope you can solve this problem quickly and easily!


I do hope so! Thanks.

mulberryvalley
Minoru Kuwahara


[Edited at 2010-06-29 13:31 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:41
English to German
+ ...
That's the point. Jun 29, 2010

mulberryvalley wrote:
Let me correct, but the point is how we're doing our business in what form and title. In Japan, where I reside, a freelancer would be generally not regarded as a "business owner", but as a "sole proprietor", that is, identified as an "unincorporated enterprise". I have no objection, in that sense, that a freelance translator is a sole trader or contractor and acts as such as a basis.
And you know what moneybookers asks for? That's all evidence of our identification of an "incorporated" business (company structure, name of directors, list of shareholders, name of subsidiaries, etc.).


Oh yes, I am well aware of all that. I am a former Moneybookers customer. Moneybookers however discontinued their services in North America only recently (!), apparently because American regulations clashed with the governing law in Great Britain.

So I sum up the reason why they are apparently so strict on our verification is to keep enough cash on existing accounts and to avoid money laundering. That does sound like making sense, although it will be certainly not quite favorable for us to go through the verification process every now and then when we receive more than certain amount of money. With the policy as it is, it could never be a payment option with agencies we're working with regularly.


Here is the weird part: This Moneybookers account was used solely to pay our freelancers in other parts of the world. I do not recall that I ever had to upload any moneys, as this account was hooked up with our business checking account and a credit card for back-up. Maybe those were the features and advantages of a merchant account.


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Magdalena Szewciów  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:41
Member (2008)
English to Polish
+ ...
here's another funny line from the hotline lady :D Jun 29, 2010

Moneybookers as well as PayPal have a cap on the cash flow allowed on private accounts. This is to avoid being considered an aide in money laundering. Makes sense?

Yes, indeed. And the first thing I did was to check the my limit/cap - not yet exceeded, but close. So I asked the hotline lady if this whole procedure had anything to do with the cap. Her answer was: "No."

NB, the weird thing is I've had a corporate account on MB from the very beginning.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 06:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
OK, not a scam... Jun 29, 2010

... but you can never be too careful! And while they are in fact defending your identity by asking for so much, it doesn't seem to take into account the practices of individual countries.

As for being close to the limit, this reminds me of having problems travelling on a passport which was close to expiry...

Good luck!

[Edited at 2010-06-29 16:45 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Business registration versus bank accounts Jun 29, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
It is amazing to see how companies just assume that the world works the way it works in their own country. No doubt one can't do business in the UK without a "business bank account", but in my country there is nothing that stops you from doing business with a personal bank account...

In most countries you need some kind of registration with the tax authorities, right? Otherwise "making money under the table" would be legal.


Firstly, the fact that I don't need to register my business in my country does not mean that it is legal to make money under the table in my country. I still have to declare my income, and pay tax on it. If I trade in my personal capacity, then I have to pay tax in my personal capacity.

Secondly, registering a business and having a business bank account are separate issues. I see no logical reason why a business should be prohibited from using its owner's personal bank account for all of its financial affairs. In my country it is quite normal for sole proprietors (like freelancers) to use their personal bank accounts for business purposes.

Thirdly, not all countries require all businesses to be registered. In my country, you only need to register your business when your turnover exceeds the VAT threshold (or in a few other cases). Freelance translators typically need not register their businesses. And (consequently, perhaps) anyone in my country can get a business bank account without having a registered business.

The point is that bank accounts, business legitimacy and tax administration are three completely separate issues. This is what I referred to when I said that the UK-based Moneybookers accountants or legal department had a narrow view of how the world works, because they assume the way it works in their country is the way it works in all countries.


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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:41
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Moneybookers Jun 29, 2010

I've been using Paypal for a while and haven't had any problems except for their fees and how long it takes to get the money into my bank account. In Brazil, Paypal registration requires your taxpayer number, address and ID number so I doubt it can be seen as "under the table".

Threads like this put me off opening a moneybookers account. Many countries do not require someone to be properly incorporated as a business to work as a freelancer, you'll just pay tax based on your income/funds in your bank account. So what will you do? Some of their demands seem unreasonable.

If they want identification, for example, why do they specify passport? Like Samuel said, in his country it takes 6 months (outrageous, by the way), you can do it here in 24hrs but it is not cheap at all, and you'll need to go there and queue up which can take hours.

What puzzles me the most is the fact they'll just freeze someone's account randomly without explanation. As a member, therefore a client, shouldn't you be allowed to know when, how and why your account can be blocked?

What if you are relying on that money to pay your personal bills, are they going to take responsibility over that? My banks would be legally accountable in a situation like that, and they are required to explain any drastic measure, and after all, moneybookers is a bank isn't it?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
PayPal also freezes accounts Jun 29, 2010

Paula Borges wrote:
What puzzles me the most is the fact they'll just freeze someone's account randomly without explanation. As a member, therefore a client, shouldn't you be allowed to know when, how and why your account can be blocked?


I must add that PayPal did the same to me recently, and the funds that I received from a client was locked in the PayPal account for a number of days, though luckily I had the relevant evidentiary documentation available, or it may have taken more than just a few days to get my money.




[Edited at 2010-06-29 19:52 GMT]


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