All Offshore That’s Going Offshore?

The Annoyance:

I’m sick of U.S. banks tossing my private information around like so much confetti. I’m thinking about opening an offshore banking account. Is this legal? Will my money (and data) be protected?

The Fix:

It’s perfectly legal to open an account in a foreign bank. Many foreign jurisdictions have much stricter privacy laws than what you’ll find stateside. But it’s a lot more work, you’ll have fewer ways to access your money, and it can be riskier.

Opening a foreign account typically takes two to three months, says Arnold Cornez, J.D., author of The Offshore Money Book (McGraw-Hill). You’ll need to submit a lot of documentation, including proof of identity and letters of reference from banks and attorneys. You’ll need to vet the banks, so you can separate the safe havens from the sharks, and at some point you may need to visit the bank in person to finalize the deal. Cornez says you can find agents that will handle the paperwork for $300 to $500, such as his own Global Group Limited (


If you’re involved in a legal tussle where your medical history may be involved—say, a city bus rear ends your car, causing you whiplash—your records may be subpoenaed and become part of the public record, along with other case documents. This could also happen if your doctor gets involved in a lawsuit that involves his or her patient records. If you don’t want the world finding out about your medical history, ask the court ...

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