Here is a word of warning to those contemplating a trip to Myanmar. Do not log in to your PayPal account.
We did and this is what happened. Our account was blocked and we received this email:
“To keep our customers secure we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system. During a recent screening, we identified activity that may be in violation of United States regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
We’re committed to meeting OFAC’s regulations. One regulation is to ensure that our customers are compliant with applicable laws and regulations, including those set forth by OFAC, in their use of PayPal.
To ensure that your account activity and transactions comply with current regulations, please provide the following information:
• Documents to confirm that you reside at the address registered on your PayPal account
• A copy of a valid government-issued photo ID showing your date of birth, such as your driver’s license or passport. Please make the copy as large and as light as possible.
Please go to our Resolution Center to provide this information. To find the Resolution Center, log in to your account and click “Resolution Center” near the top of the page. Click “Resolve” under the Action column and follow the instructions.
Please provide the following information via email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
• An explanation as to why the attempted access from Myanmar was made and by whom
• Confirm that your account is not held for the benefit of a person or organization in Myanmar
We’ll close your account if we notice any further violations.
We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and apologize for any inconvenience.
While it was quite amusing to break US sanctions and place ourselves temporarily on a par with gun runners and white slavers, for the month we were in Burma we were unable to use our account to receive payments or even to fix the problem. While solving the issue was relatively easy by providing proof of our identity and address we had the catch 22 of having to log in to PayPal to do so and so could not use our account until we left Burma.
More serious would have been had we been unable to provide proof of our address. I don’t know about you but we do not pack utility bills when we travel – though I will keep a photo of one from now on. Luckily one of our bank accounts (thankfully the one linked to PayPal) is at the address of Deirdre’s sister. A rummage through Deirdre’s post and an email and we were fine but had all our bills been in our home address in Turkey we would have had to wait until returning there before we could use our account again.