Sunday, April 13, 2008

-Being American

Yeah, I haven't been updating. Bigger things to deal with as of late. If you use PayPal and are of the bohemian type that doesn't own credit cards, but just uses a bank account with debit. Heed my tale.

I've been using PayPal for years. Two months ago I received a message from PayPal that my account was chosen for safety measures that I verify my Social Security Number. Easy enough, I was born here and pay taxes every year.

Several weeks of faxing and phone calling and nobody being able to tell me why my SSN couldn't not be verified, eventually it became understandable...

The catch is, they exclusively use the credit bureau Experian to verify SSN's and not the Social Security Administration. Being a short-sighted Luddite, I've never owned a credit card and just like to pay for things I can afford so I don't get pressured into debt. Because I have no credit history, I can not verify my SSN and the only way to talk to someone from Experian is if I order a credit report, which I can not because I don't have a credit history. A conundrum.

The animation below show's the progress I've been making the past two months.

Fig.1 My right leg which stands for PayPal's Resolution Center.
Fig.2 My left leg represents Experian, TransUnion, Equafax, SS Admin etc..
Fig.3 Symbolizes the typical bureaucratic fashion I've been going through to prove that my Social Security Number is indeed real even though I don't use a credit card.

At this point, my account has been frozen, and is pending permanent deletion with five figures in it.
It seems to be out of PayPal's control and according to complaints on, Experian pretty much doesn't handle problems well either. I'm still waiting for a response for them to verify my information they requested....Its troublesome because I have no control over this.

A sympathetic operator at Equifax(another credit bureau) told me that I should go to some bank and get a 'secured' credit card. With no way around it, I walked into Washington Mutual, and arranged for my first credit card. So when it arrives next week, I'm going to purchase some groceries to christen my credit record into existence (I mean when I pay the balance at the end of the month.) Then I will have the opportunity to patriotically join the ranks of the millions of proud Americans that cherish the one thing we all hold dearly: Credit debt. At least that is what I'm hoping will happen.

I know, I know: Its about time I started building credit anyways. But I don't think its right for PayPal to bully someone into it the credit system when they themselves do not offer loans etc..their business is just charging service fee's for making safe internet transactions. Doesn't seem legal or fair to me.

Unfortunately I underestimated how strangely un-resolvable this would be. With the majority of my entire money earnings being held ransom for months for no good reason, nor being able to make any further online income, my savings is now depleted enough so I can't pay my taxes in full, along with anything else. No new income + holding hostage my current money + mounting penalties, late fee's, maybe I could lose my apt and everything else if this keeps up. By the time Experian decides to resolve my case, I'll probably have acquired enough debt to HAVE to use a credit card till I can catch up again.

Thanks PayPal.

I'll put some art stuff up soon. I'm too irritated right now.


  1. Sorry to hear you are getting the run around from the credit/payment institution. I have had communication troubles and financial chaos happen because of "clerical errors". Hopefully it doesn't get to the point in which you need a lawyer to get to your dough. That is when it hits the fan.

    I had credit cards, but because of institutional lameness, for the past 5 years I have had none. Probably once you have a credit record you can cancel the card.

    You can always get really bohemian and do money orders/mail orders!

  2. Fck...
    I can't believe this. And of course, all this stuff has to happen to us, artists, cause everybody know we are rich, and they are afraid that we make too much profit.

    Take care and good luck anyways

  3. if you want me to break some legs for you... ill totally do it :)

  4. Someone dropped the soap, and you're getting the raping. It's unfair and I'm sorry you're having to deal with it. I had someone sign me up for online porn a few years back. And no, I'm not just saying that to make myself look less like a pervert. Anyway, one year, 1k and a police statement later, I'm short $600 bucks with lame credit and a headache.

    Honestly though, I was speaking to a financial advisor, and at this point of our finiacial livelyhood, credit is no longer important. I know, don't start shaking your head just yet. But credit is starting to become as important as social security. I was told to invest, save, and only pay for what I can afford.
    So don't be so quick with the Credit Card. It's a disease.

  5. I really feel for you on one, leg (?) because we went through a similar bs situation with PayPal recently when someone tried a bit of identity theft on our account.

    However, that being said.....

    Dude, without credit cards none of us could afford to buy any of your art. Most people don't have $5,000 or $10,000 just lying around for picture buying.

    You should definitely get a credit card for emergencies though. You don't have to use it, but if you are ever in the hospital, etc, etc. etc...

  6. Its the same here in seems you need to "play the game" to make your way in this world in the 21st century...I dont have debt but have a credit card for these reasons..unfortunately you need to shrug your shoulders and get on with it as it will get worse before it gets better, its a waste of energy being angry as its just so big now...the word "Experian" almost causes a flush of anger me too!

    best of luck and may your hard earned cash be yours again soon!!

  7. It's not just having & using credit cards alone that even helps you any, but actually being the kind of user they want before you get any significant credit. I paid off every balance I had each month for 15 year but only could get a limit of $5K from the CC company. I stop paying the whole thing, boom it jumped up to 20K. WTF? They are crack dealers.

  8. A secured card is actually using your own money to establish good credit. you aren't in 'consumer debt' because it's your own cash.

    Anyway, you'll figure it out. Don't worry too much bout THE SYSTEM, just keep a good balance between your core values and the way the rest of America exchanges money and you'll do great!

    thanks for sharing,

  9. I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through that.

    Once you can get your money that's tied up in PayPal I'd take it out. Move it somewhere else. Then I'd only use PayPal sporatically.

  10. I make a point of withdrawing any money I get through PayPal right into my account straight away - why let them accumalate interest on YOUR money by leaving it in their account, when they've already charged you way too much just to receive it in the first place!?

  11. That sucks, I hope you can get a happy resolution to this soon. Also, note that these days, not having a credit card does NOT guarantee your identity can't be stolen -- I work for a tech site and have heard dozens of cases of stolen or missing laptops containing databases of SSNs -- if you have a name, an SSN and a birthdate, there is some probability you could be a target. By some accounts, it's easier to fix or report identity theft when you have an credit account (as you can follow paper trails).

  12. this is so awful. the credit rating bureaus have a sick grip on our lives. I hate the whole system. and paypal clearly has no customer service. sorry and goodluck.

  13. Just to let you know... paypal isn't the only kid on the block. to SEND MONEY ONLINE FOR FREE!!! Click below:

    joel harrison;

  14. Ah, Paypal and the joy and fairy dust they bring to everyone who comes into contact with them.

    I've just received the news this week that eBay (this might just be in Australia) is moving to Paypal ONLY payments or cash-on-delivery payments. No more direct bank transfers, which was my preferred means of payment. So not only do we have to pay eBay's rising fees, we also have to pay the Paypal ones too.

    It's all for our own safety, of course.

  15. I sincerely hope this situation is resolved as soon as possible. It is an absolute crime that you are forbidden access to your own hard-earned funds.
    Best of luck,

  16. Seriously? GROW UP. You can't possibly cry victim and pretend to be anti-"the system" and then turn around and sell paint on wood for $8,000. If you REALLY want to stay out of the "corrupt" world market, GIVE YOUR PAINTINGS AWAY or plaster them in public spaces. Don't whine about how cruel the "American" system is. GROW UP, HYPOCRITE!

  17. Haha...

    So funny how somebody who calls you an hypocrite wears the Anonymous mask to post.

    Don't worry, it's probably just a kid hunting the Internet to test his social skills.

    And don't even bother to remove the anonymous post, it will at least keep the debate going...

    As for a response, I don't see anything wrong in selling artwork. No matter the price. The comparison with your career is very poor. You don't advertise your prints for $5 on your website and then bill them $500 to the buyers. Your credit card situation seems totally out of control (unless you actually get one) and you are treated in an unfair manner for a personal and wise choice your made. There is no such thing in living from your art..

  18. I put off getting a credit card for a long time because I didn't want to be pressured into going more into debt than I already was (student loan), when I started reading up on how your credit rating works.

    You don't really *need* a card, and it sucks that Paypal is forcing your hand into doing something you don't want to do, but having a card isn't that terrible. It's pretty much the best way to up your FICO - if you're responsible with it. And with a secured credit card, you can't go over your limit. To raise your FICO you want to charge a little and pay off the balance each and every month. Even if that means a $50 or $100 purchase, pay it off every month and watch your FICO rise. And if you end up getting more than one credit card, do not cancel more than one a year - it reflects poorly on your credit reports.

    And you need that FICO to matter to any big business if you want to get a loan (house, car, personal loan). Sad, but it's a fact of reality.

    Sorry that they're holding all your money hostage, though - that's gotta be rough :(

  19. This is one for the books!! People over at would eat this one up A-L-I-V-E!
    Be patriotic; get in debt. Can't let the terrorists win.

    good luck.

  20. I too have been in the exact same situation. I have had my paypal account hacked twice and have never gotten anywhere with paypal. I filed disputes as they wished and nothing was resolved, so after losing a little under $200 i closed my account and havent created a new one since.
    I also am in the same boat with the credit card too. I was unable to get the loan i needed for college this semester because i have no established credit and my parents credit is horrible. So i too have gotten a credit card a few months back and have started using it. Ive bought 2 cars and everything I;ve ever wanted in cash but now rely on the card to build credit :/

  21. That sir, is a huge downer. I don't know if it will help in any way, but I occasionally run into the guys that started PayPal. They run a venture capital firm in San Francisco called The Founder's Fund. If you search for it, I bet you can get in touch with them directly, they're pretty small. Maybe you could appeal to their young entrepreneurial sensibilities, show them all the bad PR they're getting, or just play nice until you get one of them on the phone and then lay into them. That would make everyone feel better.

  22. I'm currently having a problem with paypal as well, though it's a much smaller problem. I've been poking around on the net looking for more contact numbers, or a 1-800 number for complaints. I just found this site --

    Lots of people have been there -- this guy posted his problems and eventually got his money back after they froze his account.

    When I complained about unauthorized activity on my account, I got a form letter back. They are basically doing NOTHING about it. They seem to side with the seller without asking any questions. I am furious!

    PayPal sucks.

  23. When I applied for grad school, my loans were denied because of my credit report. I discovered that a credit agency had someone else's debts on my report because someone at the agency had typed in a wrong number in the soc sec field. The agency wouldn't correct it and Sallie Mae wouldn't approve my loan even though I could prove these defaulted debts weren't mine.

    The solution to the dilemna? My friend the lawyer wrote a letter to them. He was a patent attorney and couldn't have taken the case if I'd really pursued it, but the DAY AFTER his letter was received my loan was improved. So if you know any sort of lawyer, ask them if they'll do you a favor. It's amazing the results legal letterhead can get.

  24. Damn...for real?!?!?! That sucks like nothing else. I'm so sorry to hear it. So, if you have a credit card, then cut it up and pay off the balance, will you be facing the same situation a few months from now?

    I hate credit cards (don't tell "the man")

    ....go America!

  25. Esao, I LOVE YOU. Please don't ever leave me!!!!!

  26. Use a different payment service.

  27. Maybe someone already said this, but you don't need to buy anything to get credit: Simply take out a cash advance with your card, put it in the bank and DON'T TOUCH IT, and then pay it back to them at the end of the month. Bingo, instant credit. If it's a large enough advance, you may earn some coffee money at the end of its tenure.

  28. Having dropped out of law school to do art (ha ha ha ha school debt is fun!)... In those situations you're further ahead paying a lawyer $100 to send them a "right to remedy" letter. It might not even cost that much, many lawyers do stuff pro-rated etc because they get really tired of the "usuals." Even if it does cost $200 what is the value of the time spent away from art dealing with this crap worth? Let someone else deal with the runaround.

    @ the Anon "hypocrite" above: Envy much? That sort of thing always lets me know I'm doing a good job. Usually that sort of thing comes from people who are fond of talking about "earning your way" and "free markets" etc.

    We have too many hollow spirited civic succubus's in this country dedicated to ripping down their fellow humans in a vain attempt to fill the gaping hole in their souls.


  29. our money system is severely fucked up.

    type "money as debt" in google. little akward 47min animation that is HIGHLY clarifying on how money comes into society and how the debt system was created them manipulated to a very sofisticated form of debt slavery that most of people just don't realize is there.

  30. Well, that sucks.
    Despite what people are advising, DON'T take out cash on credit and stash it in your savings - the interest they charge you on the advance will be far higher than the measley rate you get on your bank account!

  31. living WITHOUT credit or on as little as possible how most people in this country should be operating. our collective debt as a society would be far less....unfortunately, the system wants us as individuals to be dependent, and duplicate its own international spending habits....

  32. I am amazed by some of the ignorant comments that are being made here. For example one person writes that he doubts PayPal is freezing accounts for "nothing." Fact of the matter, PayPal IS freezing accounts for nothing and denying people access to THEIR money for 6 months or longer -- in the process destroying many vulnerable, yet potentially successful, online businesses. Almost ANYTHING -- in most cases what innocent is -- can trigger PayPal's "anti-fraud" system which will then automatically limit a person's Paypal account, send them an automated email, and then you have thousands of people IN ONE DAY trying to contact an untrained and powerless PayPal customer service staff of about 500. Take a look at SOME of the reasons as to why PayPal may limit your account:

    So keep the ignorant comments in check. Also, the arrogant people who use PayPal and eBay and never had a problem quickly become believers when they do eventually run into problems -- and MOST DO!

    Also, if anybody is interested: New Ebay and PayPal Michael Moore documentary -- HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN. You can get the information here:

  33. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience. I was in the same boat this week, with Paypal telling me that my SS# "didn't match." After three days and 8 hours of research and calls to Paypal, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion I had made no progress. Then I turned to Google, and believe it or not, a blog of all things to help me in my time of confusion. This blog. Seems that no match also means no report on file - I'm a student by the way, and have never really had the need to have a credit card/loan yet. They should really make a distinction between no match and not on file... Anyways, after finding my answer here I called them up and told them that I didn't have a report. Next day account access was restored.

    Now, I don't think that they would have ever figured out what the problem was without my suggesting it. I don't really know what to think of a company that just "expects" everyone to have a credit rating, and if you don't you're obviously trying to pull something. Oh well, I promptly withdrew the money in the account within minutes of its reactivation. I have a credit card now too, guess it's time to go into debt. Thanks again for sharing, would have never thought of the reason alone.

  34. I found you by Googling about my latest problem with PayPal. I already lifted my withdrawal limit some time ago, but my account does not show that and has reverted back to a lower limit. I'm not giving them more than one bank account's info plus one debit card, and they already have that. I can't verify my social security number because I do not do business with credit agencies, which are primarily marketers who sell consumer info. My credit reports are inaccurate, and I like them that way. I don't wish to use credit. In fact, much to my surprise during this current economy, I walked into Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago to make a deposit, and was offered a credit card. I declined it.

    I guess I'll have to live with the problem. I can't get rid of PayPal because it is the only option allowed by those who pay me. A couple of years ago, I had the PayPal debit card, but cancelled that because I can't get satisfying answers from customer service. The answers do not match the question. I can't remember what the issue I was concerned with about their debit card was.

    My current limit will have to suffice. I have never sold on eBay, and you can rest assured that I never will, since I don't want my money held hostage.

  35. How on earth did you get through life? Or think of it with out credit? How did you get an apartment? Were you going to rent for the rest of your life? You need credit to buy a house...or get a loan for school? What happens if your insurance doesn't pay for everything if you get sick and you need a large sum of money right away? Lots of thing are needed for credit and credit history...I don't think paypal has anything to do with bullying you into getting one. You should have talked to someone long before about the pros and cons of a card, not just looking at the downside of "credit" debt. If you don't go overboard with it and pay off the statement monthly and have a credit limit then it's like an advance in money if you need to get something right away. I use paypal but they are irritating and you have to jump through a lot of hoops but I don't use them for my bank account...just my credit cards for loans, online business, and buying stuff. I hope everything is better now both with the credit card and the pay pal issue.

  36. I've had a debit card for a long time.. it is like a credit card except you can't go into debt because you can only use it when you've put real money into it to begin with and you can't use it if there's no money in it. All you need is a bank account. It is easy to transfer your paypal funds to it.