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Author Topic: What's so special about utility bills?  (Read 1759 times)
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November 19, 2011, 07:36:42 PM
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I'm just curious. US companies are some times asking for one when they want to verify info, but I haven't seen it used for this elsewhere and it never happens in my country. It doesn't seem very reliable to me.
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November 19, 2011, 07:38:44 PM
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It lends credibility to your address as being current, provides a valuable heuristic suggesting you actually live at the address (not just that you can receive mail sent there), and increases the burden on someone who would go to the effort of a fake / photoshopped ID, without being too difficult for honest people.

To the extent this refers to MtGox, I have heard many people complain that they are getting as they say "goxxed" because they can't provide a utility bill.  If I were in that situation, I would do whatever else made sense to document my identity to them well enough that they could plausibly claim they did their due diligence, since clearly they are interested in being able to prove who they are dealing with, not finding out how much electricity or water or natural gas they use.  Least of all, I would go to a notary and ask for a "certified copy" of my ID and mail it to MtGox's address in Japan.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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November 19, 2011, 08:02:20 PM
 #3

I'm just curious. US companies are some times asking for one when they want to verify info, but I haven't seen it used for this elsewhere and it never happens in my country. It doesn't seem very reliable to me.

They ask for your ID and 2 utility bills.  So the work needed to spoof the ID is trebled.

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November 20, 2011, 02:20:14 AM
 #4

It's a real bummer if you have a goal of not paying bills because you don't like debts or just like to keep things simple (for example)
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November 20, 2011, 02:48:02 AM
 #5

It's a real bummer if you have a goal of not paying bills because you don't like debts or just like to keep things simple (for example)

it's also a real bummer if you always use a PO box for all your mail and have practically nothing with your home address printed on it.
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November 20, 2011, 02:52:43 AM
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It's a real bummer if you have a goal of not paying bills because you don't like debts or just like to keep things simple (for example)

If you don't want debt, isn't paying the bill what you want to do?

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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November 20, 2011, 02:54:14 AM
 #7

It's a real bummer if you have a goal of not paying bills because you don't like debts or just like to keep things simple (for example)

it's also a real bummer if you always use a PO box for all your mail and have practically nothing with your home address printed on it.


Does the electricity or the gas go to heat and light the PO box itself?  If not, your utility bill almost certainly lists a "service address".

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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November 20, 2011, 02:59:32 AM
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It's a real bummer if you have a goal of not paying bills because you don't like debts or just like to keep things simple (for example)

it's also a real bummer if you always use a PO box for all your mail and have practically nothing with your home address printed on it.


Does the electricity or the gas go to heat and light the PO box itself?  If not, your utility bill almost certainly lists a "service address".

no. the gas and power comes to my house. but the bill for it goes to my po box and does not list the address that the gas/electricity was used at. just my name, my account number and the amount owing, etc.

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November 20, 2011, 06:56:23 AM
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And what about those whose utilities are included in their rent? Don't drive and take a bus to work? There are people in Chicago that fit that bill. Normal people with normal jobs, but...
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November 20, 2011, 08:13:47 AM
 #10

We have a 100 points ID system here.  Utility bills can be used but they aren't one of the primary documents and so they're worth less points.  The various documents/cards combined must provide evidence of your name, date of birth, your current address (that's why utility bills must be recent), your signature, and your photo.  Government issued documents/cards with unique identifiers are worth more points because in most cases they also require you to have verified your identity.

Oddly enough, you don't need to provide ID to open utility accounts here. 

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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November 20, 2011, 10:07:27 AM
 #11

And what about those whose utilities are included in their rent? Don't drive and take a bus to work? There are people in Chicago that fit that bill. Normal people with normal jobs, but...


A copy of a lease/rental agreement would typically serve the same purpose, especially with the part about the included utilities highlighted.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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November 20, 2011, 03:35:55 PM
 #12

Here's the rub.

I'm not doing business with any Bitcoin related enterprise that requires me to provide them a copy of my driver's license, let alone a copy of my utility bill. The last thing I want is some kid pissed off at me and finding out that I own a lumber yard in Sandwich, Illinois. Note to self: Increase insurance coverage on the lumber warehouse, Monday.

Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?
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November 20, 2011, 05:51:29 PM
 #13

Here's the rub.

I'm not doing business with any Bitcoin related enterprise that requires me to provide them a copy of my driver's license, let alone a copy of my utility bill. The last thing I want is some kid pissed off at me and finding out that I own a lumber yard in Sandwich, Illinois. Note to self: Increase insurance coverage on the lumber warehouse, Monday.

Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?


Because some kid from Japan might spend $1000 USD on an airline ticket to steal lumber he can't even take home?

Presumably the exchanges want to comply with the law so they don't get shut down, and the law requires knowing their customer.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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November 21, 2011, 12:54:43 AM
 #14

Here's the rub.

I'm not doing business with any Bitcoin related enterprise that requires me to provide them a copy of my driver's license, let alone a copy of my utility bill. The last thing I want is some kid pissed off at me and finding out that I own a lumber yard in Sandwich, Illinois. Note to self: Increase insurance coverage on the lumber warehouse, Monday.

Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?


Because some kid from Japan might spend $1000 USD on an airline ticket to steal lumber he can't even take home?

Presumably the exchanges want to comply with the law so they don't get shut down, and the law requires knowing their customer.

That does make sense. (the second sentence--not the first, though LOL)
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November 21, 2011, 01:19:46 AM
 #15

Here's the rub.

I'm not doing business with any Bitcoin related enterprise that requires me to provide them a copy of my driver's license, let alone a copy of my utility bill. The last thing I want is some kid pissed off at me and finding out that I own a lumber yard in Sandwich, Illinois. Note to self: Increase insurance coverage on the lumber warehouse, Monday.

Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?


Because some kid from Japan might spend $1000 USD on an airline ticket to steal lumber he can't even take home?

Presumably the exchanges want to comply with the law so they don't get shut down, and the law requires knowing their customer.

That does make sense. (the second sentence--not the first, though LOL)


MtGox is already having trouble keeping European bank accounts open.... They are trying to prevent the same from happening in other areas by playing along with regulations that "may" apply.

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
While no idea is perfect, some ideas are useful.
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November 21, 2011, 01:58:53 AM
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Here's the rub.

I'm not doing business with any Bitcoin related enterprise that requires me to provide them a copy of my driver's license, let alone a copy of my utility bill. The last thing I want is some kid pissed off at me and finding out that I own a lumber yard in Sandwich, Illinois. Note to self: Increase insurance coverage on the lumber warehouse, Monday.

Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?


Because some kid from Japan might spend $1000 USD on an airline ticket to steal lumber he can't even take home?

Presumably the exchanges want to comply with the law so they don't get shut down, and the law requires knowing their customer.

That does make sense. (the second sentence--not the first, though LOL)


MtGox is already having trouble keeping European bank accounts open.... They are trying to prevent the same from happening in other areas by playing along with regulations that "may" apply.

Conform nonconformity. Got it. What next? A state approved Bitcoin bank?
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November 21, 2011, 07:05:50 AM
 #17


Why, for heaven's sake, does an exchange that deals with an quasi-anonymous pseudo-currency need more information than's required?


Their banks require them to be compliant with KYC and AML regulations, which require them to verify identities (and often ownership of funding accounts).  If they're not, the accounts in which their customer funds are held can be frozen/shut down.  

The fact that the product in which they're dealing is Bitcoin is largely irrelevant - the primary issue is that they're moving large amounts of other people's money through their bank accounts.  They need to be able to prove that real, individual people are behind those transactions.  Whether the creators and users of Bitcoin want it to be quasi-anonymous doesn't give the exchanges any special privileges when it comes to processing the hard currency transactions necessary for deposits and withdrawals. 

People aren't compelled to use the exchanges in order to buy and sell Bitcoin.  They need to accept that if they choose to use the exchanges, their transactions are subject to laws over which the exchanges themselves have no control.


All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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November 21, 2011, 07:09:29 AM
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Solution: Nevis, West Indies based exchanges.
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November 21, 2011, 07:47:15 AM
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Solution: Nevis, West Indies based exchanges.

How do you propose people get money into and out of the exchanges' offshore bank accounts without having to go through intermediate steps which require identifying themselves to the money transmitter/payment processor or paying astronomical fees for an international transfer?  Exchanges with any significant volume need their deposit and withdrawal processes to be automated - they can't be running down to the local Western Union office to pick up or transmit cash hundreds of times each day and then manually entering those transactions into their system.

Offshore banks are great if you're able to keep and spend your money offshore.  They're not so great if you have lots of relatively small international transactions every day. 

All I can say is that this is Bitcoin. I don't believe it until I see six confirmations.
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November 22, 2011, 05:59:37 PM
 #20

I never understood this either. I don't even pay any utility bills, just my rent so is a bit difficult.

Phones and stuff is easy enough to register on any address and just forward. How can they demand 2 utility bills anyway? Even if you own a house most people only pay one utility bill you would actually need to forge to not show the address of a property you own and it is electricity. Plenty of houses even close to cities have there own water wells and stuff .... I don't get it. Don't you really have any better proof of residency documentation in the states then this?

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