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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Miffed Canadian pays bank bill a penny at a time


A Canadian credit card holder is putting a new twist on an old trick practised by disgruntled debtors - repaying his bill in pennies to maximise the collector's inconvenience.

Unhappy when his Canadian bank began out-sourcing some of its credit card processing to the United States, the man lodged his protest via the bank's online payment system, jamming its computers by making dozens of tiny payments a day.

Don Rogers said he was worried that anti-terrorism laws in the United States could allow the US Government to access his data without his consent.

"I don't want the CIA or George Bush to know how many cases of viagra I bought last week, or what church or charities I donate to," he told Reuters.

Mr Rogers said his card has since been cancelled by Vancouver-based Citizens Bank, but he will continue paying his remaining balance of C$1,000 ($1,149) one little bit at a time.

He has also decided to run in the January 23 federal election as a candidate for a fringe party that wants to abolish the North American Free Trade Agreement linking Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Citizens Bank spokesman Rolf Baumbusch said such out-sourcing was commonplace among Canadian banks because there were "very limited opportunities" for doing the work in Canada.

Canada's federal privacy commissioner has ruled the practice is legal as long as customers are informed.

But Canadians should be aware of cross-border privacy issues, said Arthur Cockfield, a law professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

"More and more our personal information is being rendered into digital formats and zips around the world," he said, adding that any credit card data sent to the United States is subject to US law.

Roger's initial attempt at paying in pennies produced a statement over 32 feet long, according to media reports.

-Reuters

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