Credit cards & corruption

Just back from the exercise walk today on a lovely morning.

When I arrived on the south side of the Rio Bravo these many years ago, I came with two credit cards, one from Wells Fargo, the other from a bank I now forget. I used the latter in 2003 to make monthly payments automatically for a Sky TV service. Sky almost immediately started to hose me, overcharging the card.

Oddly, the bank would not let me block future charges, so I had to cancel the card, leaving me with just one, the Wells Fargo. A year or two later, when I received a renewal card in the mail from up north, the fraud department wanted me to jump through so many hoops to activate it that I canceled it too. So, no credit card.

I started using a debit card online, which is a dreadful idea. I had two banks at that point, a Mexican account at Banamex, and a U.S. account at Banamex USA in Los Angeles. I finally obtained a Visa card from the Banamex account. It had a very low limit, the peso equivalent of about $150 U.S, so rule out a European splurge.

It was the same sort of starter card they offer campesinos.

My credit card history above the border was stellar, but credit history does not travel across the Rio Bravo. Down here, you start from scratch. Mexico has a credit bureau.

In 2014, due to the nincompoop FATCA legislation from the Obama Administration, Banamex USA closed my account with little warning, leaving me just the Mexican bank account with its almost useless credit card.

I was mad at Banamex in general, so I opened another Mexican account at HSBC only to learn it would not give me a credit card, in part due to my age. You read that right. HSBC is a nightmare bank. Avoid it. And I had canceled the Banamex account.

I then opened an account at BBVA Bancomer to have a fallback. After a wait of about three months, they gave me a Visa credit card with a free additional with my wife’s name on it. I have since requested a second one which also came with a free spouse card, plus the two have digital cards connected. So, all told, I have six Mexican credit cards.

BBVA Bancomer is an excellent bank. It has dropped the Bancomer name, and is just BBVA now. I have also tried out and found wanting accounts at Banco Santander and Banco Azteca. I investigated opening an account once at Banorte, but the woman with whom I was dealing briefly was so surly, I decided against it.

And I dumped the HSBC account. BBVA now serves all my needs nicely.

I have the BBVA app on my Motorola cell, and I check it daily. On two or three occasions, I found fraudulent charges. Since the cards never leave home, I wonder how that’s done. I suspect it’s bank employees. No matter, a phone call to the bank gets the matter resolved, the card in question cancelled, and a replacement rapidly arrives at my door.

Fraudulent charges, quite a lot, appeared on one of my cards just last week. Someone was having a field day purchasing goodies from Mercado Libre. A replacement card is en route. I’m a big fan of BBVA even though I do think it’s bank employees who occasionally buy stuff with my card. Let’s just call them bad apples.

From what I see on internet forums, lots, probably most, Gringos who move to Mexico live here for years without Mexican bank accounts and without Mexican credit cards, relying totally on their accounts up north. This often gets them into binds.

If you’re gonna live in Mexico, you need a Mexican bank and credit cards.


Now let’s turn to politics, always fun.

Have you heard about last week’s revelations in the New York Post that Hunter Biden, in cahoots with his creepy dad, aka The Big Guy, were selling access to the White House when Sleepy Joe was vice president?

Have you read about Facebook and Twitter censoring mentions of the scandal? And how that censoring is blowing up in their partisan faces? If you know little or nothing about these things, that means you get your “news” from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, the Houston Chronicle and others of their ilk in the mainstream media.

All for now, amigos. Vote for Trump.

Flames of burning books

books
Conservative websites are torched at a recent Democrat Party picnic in Silicon Valley.

THE LEFTISTS WHO control almost all of the internet are upping their game in the book-burning business.

It was racheted into high gear a few months ago when Alex Jones of InfoWars was virtually de-personed online. And just this week, the free-speech Twitter alternative Gab was erased — temporarily, they say, and one hopes — when its hosting provider dumped them with little warning.

The Christian news website LifeSite this week is also about to lose its hosting provider, and hundreds of conservative individuals and organizations were recently axed by Facebook. Twitter is no better.

Silicon Valley, a.k.a. the Masters of the Universe, is also going after pocketbooks. PayPal, credit card companies, online financing outfits like Patreon are ganging up to silence conservatives too, making it hard for them to earn a living.

If you fail to see the stark parallels between these activities and the physical book-burnings of 1930s Germany, then you live in La-La Land.

* * * *

(Note: If you maintain accounts at outfits like Facebook and Twitter, you are a collaborator. Sad. Freedom-loving alternatives exist and merit support.)

Odds & Ends south of the border

LIFE CONSISTS of details strung together, some good, some bad.

We live next door to a hot-springs motel that was constructed over a decade ago in what was an empty lot where a lonely cow lived. The motel has not provided us with as many interesting moments as we had imagined.

The traffic there is fairly constant. It’s a nice, well-maintained place.

Recently, the owner installed an automatic gate opener in the exit lane. It makes a whirring sound every time it’s activated as satiated customers depart.

We hear the whirring in the Hacienda, and we call it the Sound of Satisfaction.

* * * *

Credit card fraud, etc.

We’ll be going downtown early this morning to the bank. If you get there at 8:30, the wait isn’t bad before you can talk with one of the officers.

We have a number of issues to resolve. My child bride’s debit card is about to expire. The electricity bill for the Hacienda was not paid automatically from our checking account last time, as it’s done for years. And I need a new credit card because we had to cancel one last week due to hefty fraudulent charges.

odds&endsI only use credit cards online, never out in the real world. How do crooks put charges on it? This is not the first time it’s happened, but this week’s bogus charges are considerably higher than ever before. Good thing I keep a sharp eye on card movements.

Due to such perils, I consider four a minimum number of cards. All of my credit cards are issued by our Mexican bank. I had American credit cards when I moved south, but they’ve fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, if you live in Mexico you should have Mexican credit cards.

If you don’t care if your name is engraved on the card, and I don’t, you can pick up another credit card immediately at the bank. Ditto for the debit cards.

Our bank is BBVA Bancomer, the best bank in Mexico.

The worst bank is HSBC.

* * * *

Sonogram of my insides

More has happened on the health front. Recently, I got a colonoscopy, which I wrote about here, Getting a hose up my butt, and then a few days later I wrote a companion piece, An inkling of death.

The gastroenterologist who put the hose up my butt, due to some blood work he found suspicious, recommended I get a sonogram of my liver. I did that yesterday, and the doctor said everything looked okay.

The doctors keep trying to kill me, but I defy them.

The sonogram, done by a doctor not a technician in a high-tech lab in the state capital, cost the peso equivalent of $27.

Beats the devil out of ObamaCare.

* * * *

Nasty little birds

New ImageI’m battling birds. Some years, but not all, I have to fight off swallows around this time who want to build their wretched mud/spit nests on the roof beams along the edge of the Hacienda’s exterior.

They stick muddy spit up there, and I scrape it off from below with a hoe. They try it again. I scrape again, and so on. This has been going on for a week. Some years they bypass us entirely. Most years, actually.

But they are stubborn this year. Some people say it’s bad luck to remove their nests, but I don’t care. They’re nasty.

* * * *

Cheese and chairs

Within two blocks of the lab in the state capital, we found a cheese shop, so we bought some superlative cheese off a huge wheel. We also found a specialty workshop that we’ll be using. It’s a guy who renovates old office chairs.

At this moment, I’m sitting in an elegant office chair that I bought about three months ago at Office Depot. It was a replacement for the previous elegant office chair I had used for many years.

Alas, the old one is in bad shape, even sporting tape on one arm.

How fortunate to have found a shop that renovates old office chairs. When we return next week to pick up the official results of my sonogram, I’ll be dropping off the old office chair. Perhaps it has many more years ahead of it, supporting my butt because I prefer the older one.

Mexicans do everything.

We’ll likely cross the street for more cheese too. It was wonderful cheese.

 

My credit report

new-imageMY LATEST credit report arrived in the Yule email.

Mexico has a credit bureau, and it’s totally disconnected from credit bureaus in the United States. When you move over the Rio Bravo, you leave your credit history behind.

Depending on your deadbeat quotient, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it was bad.

Unlike above the border where credit bureaus are a dime a dozen, there seems to be just one credit bureau in Mexico, which makes more sense to me.

That’s my latest credit score above from the Buró de Crédito. I am more reliable than 85 percent of other Mexicans. That score should have me tying with 100 percent because I have never missed a payment here or paid late.

I would have a higher score were I addicted to debt, if I made car payments, had a mortgage, etc. All I have is a couple of Visa cards. Both are paid in full, monthly.

For my first 14 years in Mexico, I had two U.S. credit cards that were paid automatically in full every month via a connection with my U.S. bank, Banamex USA, the American outpost of the Mexican financial behemoth Banamex.

In 2014, a U.S. law known as FATCA caused Banamex USA to unceremoniously cancel my checking account, leaving me with no way whatsoever to pay my U.S. credit cards.

I opened accounts at HSBC-Mexico and BBVA Bancomer. I now have credit cards from both. Getting one from Bancomer was easy. Getting one from HSBC was like pulling teeth.

I use credit cards 99.9 percent for online purchases, and my credit score is inching up slowly. For easy access to your credit bureau score, the Buró de Crédito requires an account with them, which costs about 200 pesos a year.

After a few weeks of sleepless nights after Banamex USA zapped my only U.S. bank, I was back in business with the Mexican banks and credit cards.*

FATCA also threw a wrench into my PayPal account.

PayPal is not the same everywhere. Previously, I had the U.S. version. I canceled it and opened a Mexican PayPal which, like Mexican credit cards, works anywhere.

Again, everything is back in order, working smoothly, and I now have almost no financial ties with the United States, which puts a smug smile on my Mexican mug.

* * * *

* We have three credit cards. One with my name from HSBC. Another with my name from Bancomer, plus a third, piggybacked on my account, with my wife’s name and a different card number. She’s never used it. She’s as averse to debt as I am and has never used a credit card in her life.

(NOTE: The United States is the only nation in the world that wants to  suck tax earnings from what its citizens earn in other countries while living in those other countries. In other words, if you move to Ghana, open a store, earn a few Ghana bucks, Uncle Sam wants a cut! Freaking incredible.)