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Patriot Act Letter from LL?


Pamela Galli
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I just got the following email.   I am confused for a number of reasons -- among them that "this year" is less than two weeks old so I have hardly had a large number of process credit transactions. Has anyone else received this? 

 

Jan. 13, 2014, 5:05 p.m.
Tommy Linden

 

Dear Pamela Galli,

The USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001)) establishes minimum standards of account information to be collected and maintained by institutions such as Linden Lab. This federal law requires that such institutions obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person or legal entity that maintains an account.

Due to the volume and/or amount of Process Credit Requests you have submitted this year, Linden Lab is now required to collect and confirm the following account information from you:

• Name
• Date of birth
• Address
• Identification number

We are using EchoSign to facilitate the collection of this information. Please use the relevant link below to provide the above-requested information.

• U.S. - https://secure.echosign.com/public/hostedForm?formid=7X8TPB4E4U4I5C
• Non-U.S. - https://secure.echosign.com/public/hostedForm?formid=7XBB3LN2WIXD4M

Please complete and submit the form. You should then receive an email from EchoSign containing a confirmation link. You must click the link in that confirmation e-mail in order to complete the process. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail, please check your spam/junk filters.

In addition to the form itself, we are required to obtain a copy of your government-issued photo identification (ID). The information on the ID must be current (i.e. not expired) and must match the information you submitted on the form.

Please attach a copy of your identification to this Case. The copy must be clearly legible (full color, no smudges or blurs) and must be fully intact (no cut-off portions, no redacted information).

The following are acceptable forms of photo ID:

• Driver's license
• Military ID card
• Passport
• Any other form of government-issued photo ID

If your photo ID does not display your address, you must also provide us with a copy of a current utility or telephone bill. The name and address to which the bill is addressed must match the photo ID.

In the meantime, it is necessary for us to place a hold on any and all Process Credit Requests for your account until we receive your form and supporting documentation.

You must submit the form and identification within thirty (30) days of the date of this request. If you have not complied with this request within such time, we will place your account(s) on Administrative Hold until we receive such information. You may or may not receive a reminder; we recommend that you promptly submit the requested information to avoid any adverse effect to your Second Life account.

If you have additional accounts under which you transact with Linden Lab, we encourage you to provide the names of those avatars at this time to avoid receiving duplicate information requests.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation.

Kind Regards,
Linden Lab Billing Department

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This is the time of year that accountants put together tax documents for fiscal 2013. Looking at the Patriot Act itself, the letter itself sounds plausible - financial stuff begins around section 311:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/pdf/PLAW-107publ56.pdf

 

EchoSign is a real company as well. HOWEVER, there's no way I'd respond to an E-mail like this without talking to the Lab directly.

 

 

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I did call LL billing dept and got someone who had a hard time understanding my question, and could not tell me if it was legit or not. I asked him to find someone who could verify or not, and he took my ph # and said someone would call me within the next 24 hours.

 

It is coming in the forum of a Support Ticket, but there is nothing in the Support ticket history.

 

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Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Pamela.  If it *is* legit, it is downright scary imo to be required to give all that information.  Some residents have provided some of that info to either put billing info on file or when we had to provide info for age verification, but just the way the email is written is a bit chilling, imo.  Hopefully it is a fake.

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I wonder if this is part of the tax information that LL said they were going to require of some people in this blog post.  However they are referring to Homeland security in that letter so maybe not and it doesn't make sense to say "this year' when it has hardly begun.  It is also strange they didn't blog this too, since they blogged about the tax forms needed.

I wouldn't do anything at all until you verify that LL did indeed send it.  I could just be a big phish.

Just another fine example of the excellent communications LL maintains with its customers.

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ObviousAltIsObvious wrote:

The forms on echosign are the same W-9 and W-8BEN that LL said they would be requesting before. It is smart to confirm that these forms are really being sent back to LL, but those are really the forms IRS uses.
 

Well that letter sure made that clear as mud.  Why didn't they just say so?    facepalm smiley.gif 

Still I'd want to verify that it is legit and not a phishing scheme.

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That does'nt explain why we're still able to proceed credit as usual while the email says that its been set to 'on hold'. But yes, it does show up in Support Hisotry, its even highlighted in orange so i guess there's no other choise but to follow their orders.. have you filled in this Echosign form yet? Im in europe and LL is'nt known to be very euro friendly heh.. hope it works out

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they will not get any more information than i have already given them..

i'm not flipping through hoops..it's on rrecord  they best look for it if they want it..i'm not giving it again..

as far as the fed goes.. they can shove their partriot act right up their Azz for all i care..

 

 

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For me this sound more than fishy and I have a couple questions and comments:

1) are all LL customers with a credit card supposed to get  that letter or only US citizens?

2) I'm living in South Africa and holding an SA ID card, but am a citiizen of the Federal Republic Germany by all means. So I can hardly be considered an American patriot let alone fall under that act. Or can I?

3) If this letter turns out to be legit and I get one too ... I guess it'll be the end of my glorious career in SL. Baibai. No sane person should ever get along wih such bullcrap. Obama, the IRS, LL and the NSA are obnoxious and repel me to no end!

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Do contact Linden Lab and immediately forward this email ASAP to security@secondlife.com !

Why?

A letter like this can not be sent by a avatar account like Tommy Linden. It has to be sent by a true legal representative of the company with full contact information and a phone number.

Screenshot 2014-01-14 10.55.42.png

 

Further, a request for additional information for tax reporting purposes must be sent via mail. Email notifications are a courtesy only but not binding in anyway.

 

kml: Retired Tax Preparer

 

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Orca Flotta wrote:

For me this sound more than fishy and I have a couple questions and comments:

1) are all LL customers with a credit card supposed to get  that letter or only US citizens?

2) I'm living in South Africa and holding an SA ID card, but am a citiizen of the Federal Republic Germany by all means. So I can hardly be considered an American patriot let alone fall under that act. Or can I?

3) If this letter turns out to be legit and I get one too ... I guess it'll be the end of my glorious career in SL. Baibai. No sane person should ever get along wih such bullcrap. Obama, the IRS, LL and the NSA are obnoxious and repel me to no end!

LL recently (November 19) announced 


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires Linden Lab to collect and retain Form W-9 (for U.S. residents) and Form W-8BEN (for non-U.S. residents) at certain transaction volumes. If you reach the transaction threshold and we do not have your completed and signed W-9 or W-8BEN on file, we are required to withhold funds from your account (at the current rate of 28% of your gross amounts received). Additionally, for U.S. residents with 200 or more transactions with a total amount in excess of $20,000 in a calendar year, we are required to file a Form 1099-K with the IRS reporting those transactions for that year.

If you are required to submit a W-9 or W-8BEN form to us, we will email you before the end of the year with instructions on how to do so. Please follow the instructions to complete and submit the required Form W-9 or W-8BEN within thirty (30) days of receipt. You will only need to complete this paperwork once unless your information changes from year-to-year. If you do not receive an email from Linden Lab, we do not need you to complete these forms.

So the IRS will be requiring information from some people, but not many, and the timing of this post seems suspicious.

I have to say that, while I dislike paying tax on my earnings as much as the next person, I can't really agree that "no sane person should ever get along with such bullcrap."

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By the way the case was also opened by Tommy Linden.  I did contact LL via their live chat about it and sent the link about it.  Couldn't get anymore information about it other than "wait for it to be processed", but Live Chat didn't indicate in anyway it was fake.

 

I'm self employed through Second Life and this stuff freaks me out.  It has the message "USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001))" at the top of my case and everything.

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Linden Lab is really on the edge in terms of reporting compliance using the support system to solicit additional personal information from it's membership.

Tax information forms should not be solicited using the Adobe Echo Sign service. The IRS has all it's forms available on IRS.gov. There you download them, fill them out and submit them to your employer, bank and or the IRS via mail, or fax or scan.

Electronic signatures are not the law of the land at this time. They are completely optional.

Please note that the supplied links are completely invalid.

We are using EchoSign to facilitate the collection of this information. Please use the relevant link below to provide the above-requested information.

• U.S. - https://secure.echosign.com/public/hostedForm?formid=7X8TPB4E4U4I5C
• Non-U.S. - https://secure.echosign.com/public/hostedForm?formid=7XBB3LN2WIXD4M

You have to have a verified & certified account with Adobe Echo Sign in order to use this service. The links have the https:\\ prefix which makes them valid only to a signed-in account. Both links came up as invalid when tested them using my personal Adobe Echo Sign account. We use this service [optionally] for real estate transactions via DocuSign in California.

If in fact the Linden Lab Billing Department issues these emails then their staff is clueless as to how this works and what the legal contact methods are for tax related inquiries. The IRS is the owning organization for this information if needed and the Department of Homeland Security can request this information be collected by corporations but the IRS data collection policies spell out the legal remedies for collecting this data.

The Patriot Act information may be found here...

https://www.epic.org/privacy/financial/RL31208.pdf

The specific reasons usually cited for this type of data collection is to support the data gathering requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering components of this Act.

Linden Lab / Linden Research may certainly request additional information when your Cash-out [Process Credit] activities exceed the US Tax Reporting Threshold per annum [usually $600.00]. This triggers the IRS reporting requirement by Linden Lab to send out a MISC 1099 Income document to the legal account holder by the 28th of January. These 1099s are also reported electronically to the IRS by February 28th of the next tax year or by paper transaction by the end of March of the next tax year. So the 2013 1099 Misc reporting period is coming up now. The Form W-9 (for U.S. residents) and Form W-8BEN (for non-U.S. residents) forms are the correct forms for supplying this information to Linden Lab.

Get these documents here:

Info: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-W-9,-Request-for-Taxpayer-Identification-Number-and-Certification

Form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf

Info: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-W-8BEN,-Certificate-of-Foreign-Status-of-Beneficial-Owner-for-United-States-Tax-Withholding

Form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf

This is what Linden Lab should have sent you in their email. Not an Adobe EchoSign request.

After you have completed these forms you may scan & email them to Linden Lab or fax them or snail-mail them.

Please let us know what your phone call with Linden Lab reveals.

P.S. - Please feel free to forward my reply to Tommy Linden via your Support Case ...

 

 

 

 

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