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Comment Re:Loophole? (Score 1) 4

I apologize, AC, if my use of the word "loophole" offended you. The editors are free to substitute it with another.

Nothing in the Forbes article, my submission or my reply to you is suggesting that people shouldn't use clever, tax-saving strategies.

What makes this story interesting are a) that clever, tax-saving strategies were patent-able and b) as of a few days ago, they no longer are.

Comment Re:Loophole? (Score 1) 4

OK, how about a "tax hack:" Using the tax code in a way it was never intended to be used.

For example, the article describes a patented process by which you avoid the gift tax by funding "grantor retained annuity trusts or GRATs with nonqualified stock options."


Submission + - Tax Loopholes No Longer Patentable ( 4

Knowzy writes: "A section of the America Invents Act disallows issuing a patent "on a strategy for reducing, avoiding or postponing taxes," according to Forbes. The article describes one such strategy in some detail. The USTPO has already issued 161 of these "business method type" patents. 167 more were pending. The law only applies to future patent applications, leaving enforcement of existing patents an issue for the courts to decide."

Comment Re:Common practice...? (Score 1) 220

I do expect they send the pre-activated pin on a different shipment, on a different day. (The usual is about a week apart). TFA doesn't give any information on this crucial point.

Actually TFA does:

Sign up for an HSBC checking account online, put money in the account and days later, an activated MasterCard debit/ATM card appears in your mailbox. A few days after that, the PIN number arrives in a separate envelope.

But that's missing the point. These are MasterCard-branded debit cards. You don't need a PIN to use them. Just take the new card out of the envelope and start charging anywhere MasterCard is accepted up to the amount of money available in the checking account.

I think that pre-activated credit card are much worse...

The pre-activated debit cards have all the red flags you cite. However, in this case, the fraudulent transactions come directly out of the victim's account. On a credit card, the victim simply disputes the transaction without actually paying for it.

Comment Re:tell em how you feel... (Score 1) 220

As it happens, just recently my debit card was used fraudulently online, and pretty much emptied the account to the tune of ~$4,500. The bank phoned me up...refunded (immediately, as in, the money was there when I logged in while talking to the agent on the phone) all the cash, and asked me if there was anything else they could do. The new card arrived two days later by courier...

That's good to hear that HSBC took care of you so well in this extreme case of debit card fraud.

Last year, I had $500 stolen via an HSBC card linked to my Bank of America account. It took BofA three weeks to return my money.

...they ordered me a new (unactivated, for the record) debit card...

Did you attempt to use the card before calling to activate it?

Both HSBC divisions I tested had the sticker claiming activation was required. The sticker was a lie.

Comment Re:Friends don't let friends get debit cards (Score 1) 220

This is a bunch of bunk. If your debit card is issued through Visa, you have the exact same protections as with a Visa credit card.

Yes, AC, using a debit card as a MasterCard/Visa card does offer the same fraud protection as a standard credit card. The difference, as the OP explains, is you are on the hook initially for fraudulent transactions. They instantly flow out of your checking account.

When the bank gets around to agreeing with you that the charges are fraudulent, they will return the cash. This will be weeks later. You're bills may be due much sooner.

Comment Re:Just one question. (Score 1) 220

Yes, you do get your money back eventually. According to one of my sources, the banks are obligated to replace the funds in two weeks.

In practice, it may take longer.

I was hit by a card skimmer last year. It took over three weeks for Bank of America to replace the $500 stolen from my account. (I never got the $3 foreign ATM fee back, FWIW.)

As LostCluster points out, having an empty checking account when you're not expecting it can put you in a tight spot with your landlord/mortgage holder, etc.

Comment Re:They didn't do this to me (Score 2, Informative) 220

Details please, AC.

HSBC is a big, international company with many divisions. I'm not making this claim about all of them. Just the two I personally tested.

Also, how do you know the card you received wasn't preactivated? All of the cards in question had the standard "You must activate" sticker on it. The sticker was a lie.

Comment Re:Just one question. (Score 1) 220

Actually, we're talking about MasterCard branded "check cards." No PIN required. Just swipe or enter online anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

You're right, though, it's not exactly a credit card. It's worse.

As a debit card the money comes directly out of the linked checking account. If it were a credit card the victim would simply dispute the charges and never pay for them.


Submission + - HSBC Bank Sends Activated Debit Cards Through Mail (

Knowzy writes: At least two divisions at HSBC Bank apparently failed card issuing 101 and are mailing out debit cards pre-activated. As debit cards, fraudulent transactions come directly out of a victim's checking account. A similar report from 2004 suggests this issue is longstanding and widespread. When confronted with the evidence, HSBC would not commit to fixing this issue, preferring instead to offer vague statements like, "Through our systems and analytics, we focus on the greatest and most active threats in an effort to avoid negatively impacting customer experience."

Submission + - Now Costs $1 (

Knowzy writes: We all know Experian's is not truly free unless you quickly cancel that credit monitoring trial. Now, Experian claims new laws force them to charge a buck for a free credit report. Credit monitoring enrollment still applies. Or you can just go to for a government mandated, free credit report. Either way.

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