Paypal claim I am a ‘politically exposed person’ and have restricted my account

I logged into my paypal account and had the following message, completely out of the blue:

paypal limitation

I clicked on the PEP questions and got this:

politically exposed

I answered no because I don’t hold a position of political office, or ‘public trust’ and I’m not ‘associated’ with or related to someone in the public trust or polical office.  

I am, however, a member of a political party, like many other citizens. I have also been known to meet with MPs to raise and discuss issues with them. That does not make me a ‘politically exposed person.’

I briefly researched what a ‘politically exposed person’ is: “In financial regulation, “politically exposed person” (PEP) is a term describing someone who has been entrusted with a prominent public function. A PEP generally presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position and the influence that they may hold.”

And: “While there is no global definition of a PEP, most countries have based their definition on the 2003 Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) standard, as for example the Swiss financial market regulator in 2011, which quoted it as “the international standard.” 

The FATF’s latest definition of politically exposed persons (PEP), revised from 2003, is as follows

  • Foreign PEPs: individuals who are or have been entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, for example Heads of state or Heads of government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state owned corporations, important political party officials.
  • Domestic PEPs: individuals who are or have been entrusted domestically with prominent public functions, for example Heads of State or of government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state owned corporations, important political party officials. (Not all countries subscribe to the concept of domestic PEPs with respect to regulatory requirements/application of due diligence. For example, US law, specifically Section 312 of the USA Patriot Act and its implementing regulations provide for enhanced due diligence for SFPFs (Senior Foreign Political Figure) only, defined as: “a current or former senior official in the executive, legislative, administrative, military, or judicial branches of a ‘foreign’ government…a senior official of a major ‘foreign’ political party; and a senior executive of a ‘foreign’ government-owned commercial enterprise.)
  • Persons who are or have been entrusted with a prominent function by a state owned enterprise or an international organisation refers to members of senior management, i.e. directors, deputy directors and members of the board or equivalent functions.

Requirements for a PEP apply to family members or close associates, any individual publicly known, or known by the financial institution to be a close personal or professional associate.

None of these criteria apply to me.

As of January 2015 the UK’s PEP definition is identical to the 2003 FATF definition, i.e. without the 2012 update to include domestic PEPs; It is found in the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 Section 14(5)[9] A politically exposed person is considered any individual who fits any of the criteria listed below:

  • A foreign person who has held any time in the preceding year a prominent public function outside the United Kingdom, in a state or international institution
  • Members of courts of auditors or of the boards of central banks
  • Ambassadors, chargés d’affaires and high-ranking officers in the armed forces
  • Members of the administrative, management or supervisory bodies of state-owned enterprises
  • Heads of state, heads of government, ministers and deputy or assistant ministers
  • Members of parliaments
  • Members of supreme courts, constitutional courts or of other high-level judicial bodies

The definition explicitly excludes middle-ranking or more junior officials.

Apparently there are business screening tools available to “Screen your prospective clients against extensive global PEP lists.”  

There are a number of companies advertising for regulatory, financial and reputational risk screening.

‘Due diligence to uncover PEPs can be time consuming and requires the checking of names, dates of birth, national identification numbers and photos of clients against a reputable database of known PEPs, which usually contains over one million profiles.’

I should add at this point that I have this week had sudden inexplicable finance related problems. One is with a catalogue I have credit with (I needed a new cooker at the time, and other household items, which I have bought on credit) who have suddenly doubled the annual interest rate on my account, and justified this by claiming a ‘risk’ had come to light. They wouldn’t tell me what the ‘new risk’ was. I don’t have any other credit accounts, luckily, and have used the catalogue only when I have needed to replace essential household items for my family.

It’s probably unrelated, but I’m also suddenly battling with the council regarding an underpayment. They did reimburse me the amount last month thatthey had been deducting by mistake from my housing benefit over the last year. But now the council have this week retrospectively claimed that some of that money was Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP), and want more than half of the money they reimbursed me back.

The DHP, which I didn’t actually claim from the dates they say, was only awarded on the date I received the notification for the decision to reimbuse me the amount I was underpaid, and mysteriously backdated over a year. They are now claiming they paid that money at the time my rent was reduced for the reason the council claimed was behind the mistaken deductions. The deductions happened because the council decided without telling me that my son no longer lived at home. He was at university, but returned home out of term times. Legally that means he still lives at home. As it happens, he had eft university anyway and returned home permanently, for much of the period concerned.

The Council are now claiming – a month after this was sorted out and I was paid for the period of underpayment concerned that they had awarded DHP at the time, because they understood my son had left home. The period they claim they paid me for was last year. A notification for that didn’t arrive until I got a letter telling me the council had made a mistake and were going to reimburse me. The DHP notification letter was among the documents of how my benefit had been worked out. The letter thanked me for making a claim – that I never made for that period –  which I thought was odd at the time.

It’s bureaucratic bullshit that reminds me of the Thatcher era, when the DHSS kept ‘losing’ my ‘file’ and not paying me my unemployment benefit at a time when I was a lone parent with a baby, fleeing domestic violence, staying in a women’s aid refuge  – and a political activist. At that time, I had some major and inexplicable problems accessing any support that other people take for granted.

I do have to wonder how I could possibly even remotely be considered to be a ‘politically exposed person,’  given the definition. I have very little money. I don’t get a huge amount of donations on my site. The current balance on my Paypal site is £3.46.

This week I have had a few more donations than average because of an appeal for support to replace my laptop, which is broken, but that could not reasonably be considered a trigger for the current restriction on my account or of any suspicion of ‘corruption’.

The most I have ever had on my paypal balance is £100, minus the money that Paypal deduct. I often don’t check my balance for a week at a time or longer, because on average, I generally do not have very much on my balance.

I don’t get paid for the work I do. I would love to make a living from research and writing, but have been unable to so far. That won’t stop me from continuing doing what I do, though, providing I can stay connected to the internet, of course. 

People donate sometimes. Those donations of course are entirely voluntary, and they support me in researching and writing independent articles, as well as providing help for people who desperately need support. I support people with their PIP and ESA assessments, reviews and appeals. I also support people who contact me because they are profoundly distressed by of the consequences of government austerity policies. 

If simply being a person who cares very much about injustice, human rights, inequality and increasing poverty, and about how our society is organised makes me a ‘politically exposed person’, well, so be it.



I contacted Paypal today and went through some security checks with them. I asked why I had been suspected of being a ‘politically exposed person’ and they replied that the company is obliged to carry out monitoring and checks. I asked them why they had decided they needed to carry out monitoring and checks on me, specifically, and they said they ‘could not say why’.

My account restrictions have now been lifted.


My work is unfunded and I don’t make any money from it. This is a pay as you like site. If you wish you can support me by making a one-off donation or a monthly contribution. This will help me continue to research and write independent, insightful and informative articles, and to continue to support others.

Until the issues on my account with Paypal have been resolved, I won’t be using their donation button. But you can contact me directly if you want to make a donation.


29 thoughts on “Paypal claim I am a ‘politically exposed person’ and have restricted my account

  1. I guess this must be one of the best affirmations you have ever recievedt that you must be really getting up the nose of someone in the establishments

    I am always very sceptical about conspiracy theories but in this case it is difficult to not speculate..

    Keep up the good work and keep us informed.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. The plan seems to be to make every claimant suffer acute anxiety to the point they begin to experience stress related diseases on top of their existing ailments. The suicide rate is through the roof to the point that they have appointed a suicide Minister. whether the idea is to try and stop suicides or help them on their way is debatable. Welcome to msg me on facebook or whatsapp if you get desperate. May not be able to help much but sometimes sounding off can help. Xx

        Liked by 3 people

  2. So sorry to hear this. I hope it gets sorted soon, or should I stop the regular payment that I make if you are unable to access it? But keep up the work, your articles are revealing.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This behaviour on Paypal’s part goes back to 2012 at least, from Googling it. It’s not new. I’d think you just tripped an algo and should be ok again once they’ve checked you out.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve wanted to send you some money for ages, as your blog is the most erudite, well-researched and thought-provoking disability site I’ve found. Unfortunately my PIP was taken away last Nov. (bad assessment, report ridiculous, MR was rubber-stamp, blahblah), so I’ve been living off of loans from partners, friends, and family. However, I won my PIP tribunal 2 weeks ago, so when the DWP gets around to sending me the money they owe me, I’ll share the wealth. 🙂 And then give the rest to all the people I owe money to. Sigh.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that to get your PIP, Heather, and glad you have finally got it. Well done for fighting back, it’s not easy when you are unwell.

      Make sure you’re on your feet before even considering a donation to me hun. I don’t write what I do for money anyway, as you probably guessed. Donations help a little sometimes towards costs of broadband and access to some research sites and articles that have a paywall or subscription, but I have had my basic rate PIP for a while – since last year – and that really does make a difference with my day to day living costs. I haven’t run out of food since I got PIP, and can afford essential medication that is no longer available on prescription – NHS rationing. And taxis for health appointments when need be.

      I hope you get your award paid soon, and that you have enough left to treat yourself. You deserve it xxx

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Dear Kitty Sue, your articles are extremely well reasoned and delivered exceptionally well and as such would be deemed a threat by all those who serve their own corrupt interests. Paypal are acting on behalf of those tawdry gutter dwellers currently censoring to silence. This is likely a warning shot across the bows but could be, just as Bill Kruse has suggested, an innocent algo. trip, but also a menacing tactic as Steve H and Elizabeth Caldow have spoken about. Go to the article Slug Head has given you a link to at OffG(who themselves have changed to Patreon)and be a little better informed. Your’e doing a great job Paypal probably think that without your meagre funding they can silence you – should that turn out to be the case, find an alternative and tell them to shove it.
    You could always opt for a private account with the Co-operative Bank and problem sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been concerned for some time now at the power that credit reference agencies now wield. Do you realise that councils and the DWP now use them too? Their remit has far exceeded what was their original purpose – working for credit givers to check the financial circumstances of people requesting credit – and they now hold records on everyone who has a bank account (and not just an overdraft), claims HB, and basically pays for anything, whether requiring credit or not. It’s an insidious creep of normalising government intrusion and private companies doing the work for them. I’ve even been told by Eon that a private company will be used to check with DWP which benefits I claim in order to receive the Warm Home Discount. I think this is what has happened to you here. One thing has flagged up and sent the whole system into alarm mode. It’s very sinister and we are just sitting back a letting it happen. Be afraid….
    As regards the Council, you have my sympathy. I went through years of hell with them over HB, where they claimed they overpaid me (retrospectively) but refused to offset the ‘overpayment’ against underpayments they’d also made during the same financial year. It takes a lot of gumption to keep fighting, a clear head and a good grasp of the facts and arithmetic! But keep at it. I took it to court, where even a lawyer from the local advice centre couldn’t get his head around the complications of the case and declined to represent me. The judge was clearly exasperated by the Council’s attitude and I won. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. THanks. I looked up the government rules and guidelines yesterday on DHP and they are NOT allowed to deduct any overpayment they claim they’ve made from Universal Credit, or housing benefit. Last year they deducted £20 a month from my housing benefit because of another cock up that left me underpaid by housing benefit. DHP is a seperate thing from housing benefit, apparently, and so cannot reclaim any money from other benefit payments. I am willing to take this issue to Judicial review if I don’t get a fair outcome. Well done for fighting back, and winning! xx

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I agree with Bill Kruse that you have probably fallen foul of an idiotic AI, although the Tory MP you wrote to may have had a hand in it. I was about to compare your experience with my own website shutdown some three years ago but that is irrelevant today with the technology available. When mine took place it was by people, today we are shutdown by machines. I’ve been waiting for the chop but I noticed something interesting not long ago. I was reading the pages of Malagabay website – he does more or less what I do – critical thinking and common sense applied to mainstream science. One poster had written ‘Who do you think is number three Google-rated on this subject? It’s Malagabay’. It occurred to me that the algorithms are not capable of distinguishing between mainstream science and science criticism. The attacks on my PC and website are no longer by space cadets, clones and medieval monks, but seemingly left to the likes of Google bots. Some interesting implications here when you consider the bots are not what they’re cracked-up to be and in fact themselves open to abuse!!!


  8. You have been a naughty girl! Facebook,messenger,gmail and many apps want too much access to your details which once were off limits to others.This is the New World Order. Adapt or withdraw into the wilderness far from electronic media.


  9. I just experienced this issue myself with Paypal, and I am literally nobody politically. I don’t have a blog or any online identity. I only vote because it is mandatory in my country. I am not a member of a political party, even casually. Yet, my account is locked for a 5-day review pending my status as a “politically exposed” person. I couldn’t be anything further from that. So, I wouldn’t overestimate the impact you are having. I think it’s just random nonsense or corporate incompetence.


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