In order to processes credit cards a business needs a merchant account. Without a merchant account you can’t take credit card payments. When you provide your credit card to a website or you swipe your card the information on the purchase is sent to a gateway which then transfers money from your credit card to the businesses merchant account.

A few days later the money is transferred from the merchant account to the businesses bank accounts.

There are companies that use their merchant account to process payments on a small company or individuals behave. For example, Stripe or PayPal.

When you apply for a merchant account you are filling out a credit application. You have to provide a boat load of information and in the end, if the company or owner of the company has good enough credit, the merchant account is granted.

One of the things about that merchant account is that it has a “merchant category code”. If the merchant account say that you are a fast food restaurant and your average payment is less than $100 and a payment comes through for $3000 dollars, alarms go off and the banks investigate.

There is a lot of statistics gathered about your business as well as other businesses with the same merchant account.

This is also used to protect you. If your credit card is almost always used with small purchase that a homeowner or renter might make and suddenly there is a $700 charge for wine, your credit card company might flag the purchase and request confirmation from you before proceeding with the sale.

This happened for me the other day when I was buying off shore servers. I had to contact my bank to allow the purchase to go through as I don’t normally buy things in Norway.

A New York based bank, Amalgamated Bank, is attempting to get a special merchant code for merchant accounts that sell firearms and ammunition.

They want to be able to track how much a person spends on guns and ammo so they can raise an alarm if they see “to much” spent on aguns and ammo.

Fortunately this has been stopped, so far. The major banks said “hell no” and CBS News is reporting that Amalgamated Bank is very upset that it wasn’t the government but people working for other banks that stopped the new codes. They believe it was rogue employees doing it, not the actual big banks.

These people have no idea about how people make gun purchases. I’ve turned into a collector. When I decided that losing brass cost to much I bought a modern revolver. I have a few SAA and blackpower revolvers. I thought about it and choose .357 as my caliber for this revolver.

So that day a modern .357, a SAA reproduction in .357, a lever action in .357 and a Winchester ’94 in 30-30 followed me home.

Yeah, I sort of like Winchester ’94s. I’ve found I really like to have a rifle/pistol combination and the SAA revolvers don’t scare people. I carried a SAA in .45 Colt as part of a halloween costume once. Nobody thought anything about it. The people around me would have had a fit if they saw me with a plastic fantastic on my hip.

That single purchase would have raised alarm bells back at Amalgamated Bank. I’m betting even a single firearm purchase would have upset them.

The credit card industry has blocked a novel effort to track suspect firearm and ammunition purchases, depriving law enforcement of a potential tool to identify and stop gun crime.

Documents obtained by CBS News show employees from domestic and international credit card companies, including Visa, Mastercard and American Express, pushed back on an application to create a merchant category code for firearm and ammunition sellers.
— CBS News:This bank wants to track suspect credit card sales of guns and ammo. Why can’t it?

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By awa

4 thoughts on “By Any Means: Bank Wokism”
  1. I carried a SAA in .45 Colt as part of a halloween costume once. Nobody thought anything about it.

    You’re not the only one, but my cowboy get up, several decades ago, included a .357 Ruger Blackhawk and the ammo in the rig’s belt loops just happened to be live. And just like you, no one gave it a passing comment.

    1. Never did that one, but I did wear a flintlock pistol (functional) and a saber (tolerably sharp) as parts of a costume once… back in California. Didn’t seem to bother anybody, possibly because people tended to focus on the parrot (live).

  2. My guess is the big players are already doing this, don’t want it aired and didn’t trust Amalgamated in the club.

    1. There is likely stuff the big banks are doing to track purchases they don’t approve of. This is a question of how they do it. Very few, if any PoS send the procession company what is purchased. If I buy lobster at the grocery store and pay my $15 for two pounds all the processing people see is “grocery store”, “A&P”, “awa”, “$15”. They don’t know how many pounds or what. They can’t separate that out from me buying eggs, milk, flour and butter.

      What does happen is that the processing people or banks can learn that “A&P” sells lobsters by some other way and then flag every A&P purchase as “potential lobster purchase”. That data has to be captured from external sources.

      If this code were to go into place no such external data sources would be required. If I buy a seat cushion for a boat at the local sporting goods store it gets reported as “Guns & Ammo, Sporting goods” “PSA” “awa” “$30”. From this they can more easily track across merchants that they know nothing about, only that code.

      Interesting fact, 4473s require the FFL to report the most restrictive item on the form. So if you buy 3 pistols and a rifle on one 4473 all they know is that you purchased a pistol. BUT if you buy more than 2 pistols in a one week time frame the FFL must report that information to the ATF on a different form.

      With a code like this, it would be possible for the credit card companies to see that a single person made multiple purchases of the right price range at multiple gun stores and suggest that the reason was to avoid the reporting required on multiple pistol purchase.

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