February 13, 2012
By Ethan A. Huff
“Here is just one more example that the FBI is out of control.” –KTRN
Purchasing a cup of coffee using cash instead of a credit or debit card, using Google Maps to view photos of sporting event stadiums and large cities, and installing software to protect your internet privacy on your mobile phone — these and many other mundane activities are now considered to be potential terrorist activities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And the agency is now distributing a new series of flyers as part of its new “Communities Against Terrorism” (CAT) program that urges shop owners and others to report such “suspicious” activity to authorities.
“The Communities Against Terrorism program is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the SLATT Program to provide law enforcement agencies with a tool to engage members of the local community in the fight against terrorism,” writes SLATT.org, the program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance that is promoting the program, on its website. “To assist law enforcement in the outreach effort, templates of flyers containing potential indicators have been created for distribution to specific industries” (https://www.slatt.org/CAT).
The SLATT program offers both on-site and online training (indoctrination) for coffee shop owners, financial institution employees, tattoo shop artists, and many others into how to spot potential terrorist activities. Included among the many propaganda flyers the FBI is distributing as part of the campaign are ones for how to spot terrorists at local hobby shops and beauty supply stores, for instance, as well as flyers for owners of farm supply and home improvement stores (http://publicintelligence.net).
This little gem warns internet cafe owners to watch out for and report customers that always pay for their coffee with cash, as they could be terrorists (http://info.publicintelligence.net). Another ridiculous flyer intended for owners of boat shops warns them to be on the lookout for people interested in becoming certified scuba divers, as they could be terrorists (http://info.publicintelligence.net).
March 18th, 2011
By: Dawn Kawamoto
Before slipping the old debit card into an ATM, consumers may want to think twice if it’s not their own bank’s machine. ATM fees at these non-customer cash-dispensing outposts are edging up, with some hitting the $5 transaction fee mark, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Some banks are saying so-long to the standard $3 fee as they seek to re-coup lost revenue from debit cards and overdraft charges due to federal regulatory changes, the report notes.
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) is trying out a $5 non-customer transaction fee in Illinois, as well as a $4 fee in Texas. PNC Financial Services Group (PNC), meanwhile, is planning to terminate its ATM reimbursement program, which covers transaction fees at non-customer bank machines, later this year. And last week TD Bank Financial Group (TD) eliminated its perk that allowed its customers to use ATMs operated by other banks without charging those customers for a piece of the transaction fee.
Banks brought home a sizable $7.1 billion last year from ATM transaction fees. And of that multi-billion-dollar bonanza, $3 billion was collected by banks whose customers used another institution’s ATM, the report notes.
As more banks are expected to weigh in with higher ATM fees, frequent ATM users may switch to institutions that have the largest network of cash-dispensing machines. Savvy consumers may also opt to double down when at checkout stands that allow them to get cash back when making a purchase, minimizing the impact of the non-customer ATM fee.