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Why I'm Closing My Bank Accounts While I Still Can

Not long ago I walked into a local branch of my bank – the 13th largest bank in the United States based on consolidated banking assets, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) second-quarter 2015 data.

I wanted to cash a check for a few thousand dollars. It was a business check made out to cash; it was my business account and there was plenty of money in it.

What happened next was, frankly, frightening. And it has profound implications for every American.

That's because it means capital controls, courtesy of the government and the U.S. Federal Reserve, could be right around the corner. They're already in effect in some form.

That means you might not be able to get the money you want out of an ATM. You might not be able to cash a check when you have plenty of money in your account. Or worse… your bank could take your deposited cash and convert it to shares of stock in that bank.
In other words, if you think you'll always be able to get your money out of your bank, you're wrong.

Here's what happened…

It Started Innocently Enough

When I went to cash the check, a routine activity that must happen millions of times every day in the United States, the woman behind the big, thick glass partition said, "I'm sorry. I can't cash this for you."

"Pardon me," I said. "What do you mean you can't cash that?"

She replied matter-of-factly, "I don't know you."

"You don't know me because you're new here," I replied. "Please get the branch manager," I requested politely.

"I'll call her, but you'll have to fill out this form," she told me as she reached into a drawer under the counter.

Just then the branch manager came over to the teller inside the cage. "Hi Mr. Gilani, is there a problem?" she asked.

"Yes, there is a problem," I replied. "I'm trying to cash a check and first this young lady said she didn't know me and couldn't cash the check, then she said I'd have to fill out some forms to get my money out. What's going on?"

The manager told me there were some "new rules" they had to follow. She acknowledged she knew me, telling the teller I was okay, but told me I'd still have to fill out the form.

"I am not filling out any form ever to take my money out of my account," I stated. "Is that a federal law or is that this bank's idea of customer service?"

"It's just what we have to do now," the manager replied.

So I looked at her as if to say, "Really? You're not going to tell me why I have to fill out a form to take cash out of my account?"

Then I said, very calmly, "I'm sorry – and I don't want to be a jerk – but if you don't cash this check or if I'm ever asked to fill out a form again when I cash a check, I'll close all my accounts here."

I got my cash… and a seriously creepy feeling.

No one has ever been able to tell me why the teller wouldn't cash my check, not even my friends who own banks. The best answer I got was, it was a new teller and she probably didn't understand the SARs rules and figured she'd better not cash the check, in case she got in trouble.

Which begs the question, what are SARs?

They are Suspicious Activity Reports. And according to the FDIC's website…
"A bank shall file a suspicious activity report with the appropriate federal law enforcement agencies and the Department of the Treasury, in accordance with the form's instructions, by sending a completed suspicious activity report to FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) in the following circumstances:

  • Insider abuse involving any amount.
  • Transactions aggregating $5,000 or more where a suspect can be identified.
  • Transactions aggregating $25,000 or more regardless of potential suspects.
  • Transactions aggregating $5,000 or more that involve potential money laundering or violations of the Bank Secrecy Act."

Banks fill out these reports regularly. They have to.

In fact, according to a post on the well-respected site, "Banks have minimum quotas of SARs they need to fill out and submit to the federal government. If they don't file enough SARs, they can be fined. They can lose their banking charter. And yes, bank executives and directors can even be imprisoned for noncompliance."

As annoyed as I was with the difficulty of getting my money out of my account (and the teller no doubt filing a SAR on me), at least I was able to get my money.

But that can change.

There are two scenarios where depositors could either be restricted from withdrawing their cash or have their deposits confiscated and converted into bank stock shares.

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Shah Gilani is the Event Trading Specialist for Money Map Press. He provides specific trading recommendations in Capital Wave Forecast, where he predicts gigantic "waves" of money forming and shows you how to play them for the biggest gains. In Short-Side Fortunes, Shah shows the "little guy" how to make massive size gains – sometimes in a single day – by flipping large asset classes like stocks, bonds, commodities, ETFs and more. He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.

Read full bio

  1. dbtheonly | November 30, 2015

    I suspect it's more likely that you were racially profiled rather than there exists some secret plan to seize all bank accounts.

    You also ignore the existence of the FDIC. The Federal Government insures all deposits up to $250,000 in member banks.

    Really, isn't enough that one of your colleagues has been predicting an immanent, disastrous, collapse in the economy for a couple of years now? Do you have to join in?

    • northwind | November 30, 2015

      it's not a "secret" plan. the regulations cited exist. go try to take $6000 cash out of your bank. it's your money except you can't have it. the FDIC might have .02-.03 for every dollar "insured".

      • Foxie | December 1, 2015

        Not only can you have trouble when you try to withdraw $6000. Just have $6000 of your own money on your person without an explanation that satisfies the authorities, read that thieves. You will be parted from it because they think your possession of it is "suspicious." Good luck on trying to get it back.

      • Sourpuss71 | December 2, 2015

        $6,000.00? try taking out $4,000.00 and see what happens.

      • Linda | December 4, 2015

        So where are you parking your $$$ after closing your bank accounts?

    • LAWRENCE | November 30, 2015

      Hello, the F in FDIC means Federal. It can be told what, when, where, how to operate by several Federal agencies, such as Treasury to name just one. Of course it's not 'fair' but that's part of learning what is really going on.

    • Russ | November 30, 2015

      I'm not sure the FDIC is quite the security blanket you think it is.
      Currently the FDIC has 66 billion in assets guaranteeing 10.4 trillion on deposit. If you are going to bet on them you might consider using a small insolvent bank that would be amongst the first to get it's members covered.

    • Protonius | November 30, 2015

      About the FDIC's ability to fully insure all bank-account-deposits for "up tp $250,000", may I suggest that if you do a simple internet-search on the term "does the fdic have enough money", you will find loads of reports that say that in the event of a widespread crash, the the FDIC will NOT have the ability to do that.

    • john | November 30, 2015

      you earned the money, so you think it is yours. so far from reality. you did not make, create, or print it. it is not your money. never has been, never will be. you don't own it. should try to understand this soon as you can

    • KC | December 7, 2015

      To Dbtheonly, I am white & had same thing happen as Shah. I also believe we are about to be robbed by our crooked politicians, you know the ones with mean, nasty attitudes like yours. Only you'll be on their hit list just like everyone else, white, black, yellow, we'll all be in it together, but thanks to this sites heads-up maybe we can be more prepared than some. It can't hurt & it might help. Thank you Shah for helping enlighten us in so many ways.

  2. Matt Bair | November 30, 2015

    Mr. Gilani, I am one off the very few that believes this can happen.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but any money in the banks system, CD's, personal and business checking, money markets, etc. are in danger. Even cash sitting in brokerage accounts not yet invested could be scooped away.
    I'm just a stupid carpenter, but I see painful times ahead, even for those like me who think they are prepared. This government has proven they are capable of anything.
    Thank you sir for what you do.

    • Christine | November 30, 2015

      I would like to know when the bank account is closed what to do with the money ? Any suggestions .

      • Silver Savior | November 30, 2015

        I put my money mainly in silver bullion. I keep no money in the bank. Why would you. I pay in cash for everything and I like getting coins back which I hoard too.

  3. Kevin Beck | November 30, 2015

    I think we can call this "The Revenge of Frankendoodie."

    I have been hearing similar stories of the possibility of any of these events happening, but now that we have confirmed evidence that it did happen, I would prefer that all the people that yell at us for dreaming up these "conspiracy theories" would get a life. Once it happens, it's no longer "theory"; it is now truth. This is also another reason you should hope that America doesn't become a cashless society.

  4. Don Reynolds | November 30, 2015

    Does this same scenario apply to brokerage accounts with institutions such as Fidelity, Ameritrade, etc.

  5. Carol N | November 30, 2015

    Hi Shah,
    I've heard about this sort of thing happening but I don't think we ever thought it would 'really' happen. I'm living in Australia and wonder whether you think this sort of thing could happen here? I have no idea whether our laws have been changed in this regard to accommodate the govt like yours have in the US but, if they have, it would be good to put the word out so I can make others more aware.
    Thank you so much for your all your truth!
    Kindest Regards,

    • Howard Perry | November 30, 2015


      It can happen in Australia, although the first $250,000 you hold in each bank is guaranteed by the Australian Government. What the Oz government is more likely to do is take your superannuation and pay you a pension from it instead of leaving it under your control.

  6. Zero | November 30, 2015

    Here is someone else BESIDES Alex Jones, a financial market expert, speaking out publicly and sounding the alarm. Maybe Alex isn't such a crackpot after all? Shame on anyone for not heeding these warnings.

  7. dennis patch | November 30, 2015

    This is illegal…the bank is my debtor…I am the creditor…
    A first year law student can see this….

    • miguelthecreditor | December 31, 2015

      yes but when you deposit your money you become an unsecured creditor like a CC ;)

  8. dennis patch | November 30, 2015

    Sorry, I forgot to mention I am in Australia too.
    I am pretty sure Hockey had this very provision in his budget
    and it was passed by the Senate.

  9. Shannon | November 30, 2015

    @dbtheonly, no it's not racial profiling, it's SOP for banks, compounded by the new teller. Mr. Gilani is correct that the teller most likely filled out the form after he left, her error was asking him to fill it out himself, she shouldn't have alerted him that she was doing so. If the cash withdrawals were a habit of his, he probably has many SARs under his name already.

    I've worked for a bank holding company (whose name would be recognized in most of the country) for over 20 years, and even though I don't work in a branch, all workers are required to complete a plethora of training every year covering regulatory topics (I think I take about 30 classes/year even though none of them cover what my job functions are).

    The SAR is whatever someone deems is suspicious, and these days, cash is suspicious and subversive as the govt has a harder time tracking cash. They would really rather do away with cash so that every transaction can be tracked and taxed – tracked to build a profile of you, taxed to feed itself for even more growth.

    @Don, yes, these regs apply in one form or another to all financial institutions.

    Our government distrusts its citizens.

  10. Dave | November 30, 2015

    One of the commenters asked if this sort of "bail-in" could happen with brokerage accounts. This reminded me of a notification I received several years ago from my mutual fund firm that indicated that funds could be taken from one fund to service emergency liquidity needs of another.

    In another case, I was in the process of setting up my online banking with my long time TBTF bank and this process led me to the typical "terms and conditions" acceptance or rejection. In reading the terms and conditions it stated that funds could be taken from any account I owned to satisfy obligations of any other account. So, for instance, my checking account could be tapped to pay off a mortgage or credit card balance.

    I guess you could say its all in the fine print…

  11. tsl | November 30, 2015

    This happened to me. I was going to buy a truck from private party. I when to the bank and wanted to with draw 10,000. The bank manager told me that I would have to fill out these forms and they would order the cash and it would be a couple of days. I asked what if i wanted more money and they said that large withdrawals could be denied because of new banking laws. So what is the answer? If I go to all cash, I know some banks won't let you even pay a mortgage or car payment with cash (you must have a bank account). This happened in Feb 2015. It seems that it is all going to blowup

    • Mia | January 16, 2016

      I think you open several accountas ar other institutions: preferably credit unions, and have your money transferred out to each new institution. Then withdraw and get a home safe. If 'negative interest rates' really will become a reality: why would you keep it in a bank. They are just as ;likely to steal it as from a home break in. Buy 10% of your cash worth in gold and silver to feel 'safe'. With china and Russia BUYING UP GOLD: EVEN IN western society cashless economy:

  12. Don Ferguson | November 30, 2015

    The same thing happened to me at BOA. It was THEIR cashier's check.

  13. Jim | November 30, 2015

    I too share your concern. Where can one place their investments and not be at risk? I'm not so sure stocks, bonds, etc are any safer than bank deposits. What hard assets do you recommend? How can these assets be protected from the over-reaching hand of government. When our government becomes desperate, they will do anything. That is the basis for how we have to plan.

  14. John | November 30, 2015

    WELL…. how did you think The Government got this done…. HECK you put those idiots and crooks ( excuse me Legally positioned to make themselves rich) politicians in office!!!
    Now you can actually see why they spend so much omney getting elected!!!!
    By the way… where are you moving your money to??? try cashing a Gve check when retired without an account in a bank to get the money??? Cost to cash at exchange 10-35% ????

  15. Steve | November 30, 2015

    So, how does one pull all or most of his cash out out of a bank if you can barely get a few thousand dollars?

    • bob | November 30, 2015

      Last week I went to UNION bank to get $8000 cash to buy car. I had to go back the next day as they had not enough on hand, they said. Thought maybe I would get it in YEN.

  16. john lever | November 30, 2015

    bettey in a Canadian put your money ina canadian bank..we have different laws up here

  17. Sue Porter | November 30, 2015

    How about credit unions? Do they have the same regulations? Can I get my money out of them? I know the credit unions are not guaranteed by FDID but by a different credit union insurance.

  18. Roger from MA | December 1, 2015

    Could you please tell us what bank and what branch this alleged "incident" happened in?

  19. Linda | December 1, 2015

    I do see more rules regulations and restrictions being placed on the customers in the banks. It is very disturbing. What are the options then? How do you recommend one keep their cash, if safe deposit boxes are out?
    Mr. Shah Gilani you said that you are closing your bank accounts, what are your solutions personally that you are doing? You have a business, how are you operating it with out bank accounts? You did not offer any concrete ideas?

  20. John | December 1, 2015

    What about taking out less than $5000 at a time in Travelers Checks?
    I use TD Bank which is really a Canadian Bank here in the US. How would I transfer some of my bank account to Canada?

  21. felix | December 1, 2015

    Closing my bank account sounds great, BUT what do I do with my Direct
    Deposit checks [retirement and social security] each month ???? They don't
    pay in rupies or cash. Huh?

  22. robert kendig | December 1, 2015

    very informative article and makes me want to go back to td bank with my ssi deposits.!

  23. Fred Smith | December 2, 2015

    The US govt has been changing the banking landscape and turning financial institutions into cops for many years. The public is just starting to see how all the regulations and new laws are impacting how banks operate. I work in one of the largest banks in the US and we spend more time working on the regulations than making loans or taking deposits. Do I keep my money in a bank? I keep as little as necessary to operate. Physical assets are the best way to manage for what's about to come.

  24. Kurt Isager | December 2, 2015

    I live in Europe. I am planning to transfer money to Interactive Brokers.
    Bad idea ?? Correct if I am wrong, but isnt IB a Canadian broker under Canadian law and rules ?

    • will wohler | December 13, 2015

      Sorry Mr Isager – IB is headquartered in Greenwich CONNECTICUT! – at very bottom of this page is a list of their entities.

      There is a Canada-based subsidiary (which might be independent enough for a fair degree of safety from predation by U.S.). I too had mistakenly believed IB to be (completely) Canada based. Despite that disappointment, I've been a very satisfied IB client for about 6 years now.

      But not sure that Canada will be all that much safer for one's financial assets down the road – Canada is emulating more & more of its southern neighbor's wicked fiscal & monetary policies.

      It's getting harder & harder to find safe places for one's financial assets. Perhaps Hong Kong? or Singapore?


  25. Jon Coughlin | December 3, 2015

    Silver Savior & Fred Smith,
    Where can I buy silver bullions & acquire physical assets? Thank you

  26. william | December 3, 2015

    I have had this occur to me. I went to my bank to remove $3000. for home painting contractor and was told about form. I refused to sign anything and told them I would clear account and tell the owner(small local bank) why. She gave me the cash. I went to main branch and asked about the law and the bank owners told me the couldn't verify or decline due to bank policies. I have know the owners for many years and now it' different how they act towards me. Like I am the nut who don't trust them. Congress has thrown around the idea of nationalizing retirement accounts. Beware.

  27. John Juan | December 3, 2015

    When taking your money out "in smaller amounts," be careful not to run afoul of the federal 'structured withdrawal' law. Look it up. Withdrawing over a certain amount over time could get you charged with trying to evade the withdrawal disclosure law. Whether or not you can prove your withdrawals were for legitimate reasons does NOT matter. Fed Pokey Wants You!

  28. john | December 3, 2015

    So is it correct that money in a business checking account is no safer from confiscation than money in a savings account?

  29. Ben | December 3, 2015

    If you think US is unique you are under informed. Actually it is worse in EU. Not only banks asks questions but they can close your account in 24 hours based on nothing more than a suspicious activity, like receiving funds from someone your business has never before received funds from. One of my business friends got his account in Sweden closed because he received funds from several private individuals he never done business with before. How do you operate a company without a checking account?

  30. Illy | December 3, 2015

    I'm from Canada.
    I've never had issues withdrawing nor depositing multiple thousands of $'s at a time. Sometimes they will tell me they may not have enough on hand, & to call them next time in advance… but I'd rather just go to 2 different branches if I really need the cash.
    I was told that by law, any amt over $9,999 being moved around has to be reported to police, so I just did 2 transactions of $6K & $6K.
    Maybe income is lower in US, so the total amt being moved without getting flagged is lower, but I've never been asked to fill out a form.

  31. Bernie B | December 4, 2015

    We are headed for 100% digital cash. Paper and coin will be eliminated. Then we will 100% at their mercy. It does not take a genius to figure the trend that is taking place. Negative interest rates, no problem, type a code in, done, your "currency" took a haircut. You are complaining about the government, no problem, your account is frozen, you cannot transact anything. Hitler would have done a tap dance if he had this power.

  32. John w Folsom,atty. | December 5, 2015

    What my about putting your money in stocks that pay dividends like At&T "O"? Where would you suggest that would be safe?

  33. John w Folsom,atty. | December 5, 2015

    Tell me what is mentioned by moderation ! As a member of money map press and a 44yr atty and a former IRS revenue officer I do not know what you mean by using the term!

  34. jlr | December 6, 2015

    To dbtheonly: others have offered useful comments, and I'm sure you could do the same if you tried.

    To those who wanted Mr Gilani to list steps folks could use to protect themselves from the theft process he warns against: might there be some possibility that merely listing such steps would itself result in prosecution?

    My comment regarding the article is that the truly wealthy may have the legal, technical, and political resources sufficient to take effective defensive action with impunity. The impecunious have little reason to worry about withdrawal limits because their account balances would present no problem. The great middle between these two classes would be most affected and would have the least means of defense. Most of us in that class will have little protection and would be the most likely to fall afoul of the traps in the law or in the regs. Traps there surely are. I have hardly the least expectation I would be able to figure out a safe way to proceed. This is a pessimistic view, admittedly. It probably is realistic, though. But please do not assume that this comment amounts to a request for anybody to post answers such as lists of protective steps. Doing that without careful wording would be inadvisable, I believe. Just my opinion.

  35. jim o | December 11, 2015

    the government has setup rules to prevent you from withdralling your money for when they decide to take it for the imf. They will proubly take 40 percent. besides the government says its not your money once you give it to the bank you own shares in the bank.

  36. roger eichman | December 12, 2015

    If a bank closing or bail-in occurs, I will send a check to the IRS and then latter ask for the return of over payment of taxes.

  37. Mark Weber | December 30, 2015

    What kind of useless article is this? What is the point of an article entitled: "Why I'm closing my bank accounts" if there is no advice on what to do next?
    When I went to college I was taught that if I had to tell my boss about a problem I should also take some possible solutions into the meeting with me. This article describes hops between anecdotes in EUR and the US of people having their money unceremoniously separated from them then offers no alternative for what to do with the money. If it was at least a scam I could dismiss it and move on but this is the worst type of prattle, scaring people and not telling them a way out. What a total waste of precious time, which, btw, the author of course adds time pressure to the situation by saying we must act soon. Act soon and do what?

    • Walter Trider | December 31, 2015

      you poor thing you.. would you rather have us not tell you theres no Santa Claus? …. What YOU do with this info is personal. Would if he doesnt know where to put your money? He shouldnt sound the alarm?

  38. JC | January 3, 2016

    Where is the rest of this article???

    The article ends with "There are two scenarios where depositors could either be restricted from withdrawing their cash or have their deposits confiscated and converted into bank stock shares."

    However, the article never states what these two scenarios are.

    • RS | January 24, 2016

      The two are included within the sentence.
      1.Limitations on your cash withdrawals.
      2.Your account is converted into shares of the Bank. (Rendering you with zilch when the bank stocks tank.)
      It is up to you to find out what policies your bank implements.

  39. Randy | January 7, 2016

    The reason why the FDIC will not replenishing money confiscated in a Bail-In is that a depositors money has been converted to stock in the new recapitalized bank built on the ashes of the old failing bank. And here is the clever trick the new Bail-In laws take advantage of – the FDIC only insures cash accounts not equity accounts. Now since your money has been converted to stock it no longer is the pervue of the FDIC and they are off the hook.

  40. Ben | February 22, 2016

    If the govt can confiscate my deposits, is there anywhere safe to deposit my money so I can pay bills, etc ?? What about a credit union? I don't think they participate in the derivatives market.

  41. Lynda | February 22, 2016

    In 1933, the U.S. government forbid the hoarding gold coin, bullion and gold certificates, and people had to redeem them for cash or risk a fine or imprisonment. What is to say this couldn't happen again? Google it or search Executive Order 6102 on Wikipedia for more info.

  42. rose lee | October 11, 2016

    Great Article. I loved the specifics , Does someone know if my business might be able to get ahold of a template JPMorgan Chase Account Closing Form version to complete ?

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