Opening an offshore account online is the easiest and most-cost effective way of getting your funds from A to B. Having said that, there are many pitfalls associated with this kind of search. It’s not only your money that you are entrusting to a website you found off Google – you might also get drawn
Opening an offshore account online is the easiest and most-cost effective way of getting your funds from A to B. Having said that, there are many pitfalls associated with this kind of search. It’s not only your money that you are entrusting to a website you found off Google – you might also get drawn into an action that is plain illegal. Even if banks are regulated, the internet is not, so ready yourself to plough through a lot of junk, middlemen and websites that are out there purely to scam you before you find the perfect offshore account.
Here are some golden rules to follow to make sure you don’t fall pray to internet schemes.
1) Get a phone or fax number. One of the easiest ways to flag a scam website is one that has little or no contact information.
2) Most offshore banks will have well-laid out websites with plenty of information. Often they have documents available to download such as application forms, due diligence requirements, and government issued credentials.
3) Don’t trust an organization that asks for no due diligence to open an offshore bank account. All offshore banks need this to cover their end, and at least a recent utility bill and scanned notarized/apostilled copy of your passport are standard minimum requirements.
Look for clues as to what the organization behind the website ACTUALLY does, and consider whether it fits your requirements. In my experience, “Offshore banking” websites can be broken down into 3 main groups.
1) Sites that offer to open an offshore bank accounts in foreign tax havens for a fee. Many of these will promise to open bank accounts in jurisdictions where there is high demand for offshore accounts yet short supply such as the US and Switzerland. Not all of these groups are scams – many will save you a whole lot of time and effort in preparing the correct documentation. But you do run the risk that the guy who offers you a professional “introduction” will take your $1000 and run off into cyberspace.
2) Real offshore banks. How do you know they are real? Do they have their formation documents online? Don’t be fooled by websites that say they are licensed by a fictitious country; if the website says it gets a banking license from Seeland, think how likely this could be…?
3) Treasury- type accounts. These guys will open an account for you in the name of their trust or financial company. Make sure the website has a record of its license and check the country where it comes from. Even “legitimate” sounding companies can turn out to be fake when they are owned by a trust which, on investigation, doesn’t exist. While trust accounts can offer you better privacy than the other options, “trust” is the operative word here. The treasury company will be signatories on the accounts rather than you personally – so make sure the one you choose has a bit of history, or even better look for 3rd party reviews to ensure they are legitimate.