My local Western Union agent...

...collecting private information under false pretenses?

(all material copyright protected and all rights reserved by Eric Andreasson)

      This is what I mean by "the every day fight". I really do walk the walk!

      This is my recounting of the situation today (9-5-09) at a check cashing/loan agent for Western Union and my typical way of handling the illegal intrusions into my privacy:

      The place was Loan Mart/Money Mart on 5095 North La Canada, here in Tucson, Arizona.
      I was trying to make a monthly Western Union payment and my usual place had a notice that Western Union was down. I was running errands and randomly picked an establishment that was on my way.
      I walked in and filled out a Quick Collect payment form and took it to the counter. I handed the person the appropriate amount, plus fees. Here is a scan of the actual form I filled out;

      As they were entering my information, they asked for my date of birth and my occupation. What?!?!?! I've never been asked that, before. Ever. And I've been doing this payment for around ten years through Western Union. I asked why they needed to know this information. I was informed that it was not only their policy, but, the Patriot Act required it. This was news to me! I asked what specific section of the Act stated such. He answered that he didn't know. But, he assured me he was trained to ask and that he was sure his boss knew. I asked why he didn't know. His response was that his superiors told him so, so it must be true. There was no need to check on his own to verify what he was taught. He informed me that they had been requiring this information since 2003. They had been doing this for approximately six years! I informed him that the Patriot Act did not rescind the Privacy Act of 1974, and if he continued to ask for my private information to complete a task offered to the general public, I could sue him personally. "Go ahead and try" was his response.
      At this point he refused to process my paperwork. I picked up the form and read the fine print on the front page. It states, very clearly, in the footnotes (as highlighted in the pictures below) that the "Additional Information" on the second page is only required if the amount is $1,000 or more (footnote 2). I was well under that limit.

      As you can see, I circled the footnote and "starred" it. I showed it to him and stated that the contract is clear that the "Additional Information" is only required if the aggregate amount is $1,000 or more in one transaction or one day. This is a clearly understood contract and I have already signed it. They have also signed a contract with Western Union to process this paperwork. I asked if he was refusing to acknowledge a signed contract. He said "Yes". He stated that local, State, and Federal law ALL required that they get this private information from me!

      I tried to explain that if the Patriot Act really did require the additional information, it would be on the front page with the required information, and not on the second page with the additional information only referred to under transactions over $1,000! To no avail, though.
      He said I could call Western Union and clarify his stance. So, I did. Right there at the counter. I called the Western Union Financial Services line at 1-800-325-6000 and spoke with a representative. I explained my situation, to which she said that I was correct. I asked her to speak directly to the person at the counter (who turned out to be the store manager)...

      .. She agreed to do so, and I handed him my phone. Oh, I forgot to mention the Pima County Sheriff that was now standing about 10 feet from me, listening intently to our argument. The manager tried convincing the lady on the phone that she was wrong, and then handed me my phone, declaring that we were on hold for a supervisor.
      While I was waiting, I noticed he was calling his boss. I heard him say "Yes, he's still here". And "He's refusing my refusal of service". When he hung up, I looked at him and asked "Did I hear you say you refused my service?". He said he did. I asked if he was refusing service based on a general refusal to do business, or a refusal to process my form based on the Patriot Act as he had originally told me, because I needed to know whether I should still be standing at the counter or outside. I said it loudly and clearly as another sheriff had entered the establishment and took his place beside the first. He looked at me questioningly, and said "based on a general refusal of business". I replied "So, you are changing your type of refusal?". He answered affirmatively and I walked just outside the front door, still on hold. This seemed to satisfy the two Sheriffs.
      I stood at the front of my truck with the paperwork on my hood right at the front door to the store. Just as I was finally talking to a "supervisor's supervisor", the manager walked out to me with these (obviously covering his butt);

      It was approximately 5:30 PM Eastern Time on Sept. 5, 2009 and I was speaking to Sandra, employee #282. She claimed to have the ability to look up any restrictions on transactions by State and Federal laws. I explained the situation thoroughly and she read me her restriction list for Arizona. It was exactly the same as I had deciphered! She said the information they were requiring was uncalled for and not necessary.
      I asked to file a complaint against the company. Sandra agreed that that was appropriate and took all the information necessary including my contact number for a followup from her bosses. I explained that I needed no restitution, but, there were customers since 2003 that were illegally tricked into giving personal and private information and that this company needed to be stopped from it's illegal policies. She agreed. I also explained that this was bad advertisement for them with this company as their representative and I would see to it that I would never use their company again (Money Mart/Loan Mart) and that all of my friends and acquaintances would be informed as to their activities. She was extremely understanding and accommodating.
      I'm sure that Aaron Erkin, the store manager, will never forget me and how I stood up for my rights and I was proven correct. Not to mention their new black mark with Western Union and hopefully a changed policy.
      This goes to my point of this story. We must fight on an every day level whenever and wherever anyone tries to take our rights away or invade our privacy. They must feel the backlash every single time. Don't ever tell yourself the time and trouble aren't worth it. Walk the walk and keep pushing to stay free.
      I will.