The telephone solicitors

ONE OF THE many positives of moving to Mexico, at least years ago, was that I was no longer bombarded by junk calls around dinner time.

old-phone-3Alas, like so many aspects of living here, both good and bad, we’ve become more like the nation up north.

Starting only in the last year, junk calls started coming in a lot, and almost all were from banks. It’s either my own bank, BBVA, or my previous bank, HSBC. Calls from BBVA are usually to offer me a credit card or sell me insurance. I need neither.

But the real nuisance was HSBC, a bank I simply abandoned about three years ago. It’s a nightmare bank, so I did not bother officially closing my account. I merely zeroed it out and walked around the corner to Bancomer BBVA, which now goes by BBVA only. It’s a Spanish bank, as in Spain. As far as banks go here, it’s the best, I think.

Junk calls are not restricted to the dinner hour. It’s an all-day-long thing. Most were coming from HSBC. I don’t know what they wanted because I simply hung up on realizing it was that damnable nightmare bank yet again.

I have solved the problem, however. I installed a call blocker on my cell phone. At first, I simply had it block further calls from numbers that annoyed me even once. But it seems that banks have an endless variety of numbers, probably to dodge this sort of blocking.

I’d block one bank number, and then they’d just call me from another.

So I’ve set my call blocker to block all calls, every single solitary one that is not on my list of contacts. I now live in peace. However, my contacts include my entire Google list, so anything important appears to be getting through.

Being a hermit, I don’t get many calls anyway.

I wonder if the dinner-time sales calls still happen above the Rio Bravo. But the junk calls happened at dinner time, of course, because that’s when people were home, and before they were watching I Love Lucy at 8 p.m.

But cell phones mean people are “home” all the time. I imagine the dinner calls have ended above the border. Or have they? I have no clue. And do they come mostly from banks or from all over the place like before?

My credit report

new-imageMY LATEST credit report arrived in the Yule email.

Mexico has a credit bureau, and it’s totally disconnected from credit bureaus in the United States. When you move over the Rio Bravo, you leave your credit history behind.

Depending on your deadbeat quotient, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it was bad.

Unlike above the border where credit bureaus are a dime a dozen, there seems to be just one credit bureau in Mexico, which makes more sense to me.

That’s my latest credit score above from the Buró de Crédito. I am more reliable than 85 percent of other Mexicans. That score should have me tying with 100 percent because I have never missed a payment here or paid late.

I would have a higher score were I addicted to debt, if I made car payments, had a mortgage, etc. All I have is a couple of Visa cards. Both are paid in full, monthly.

For my first 14 years in Mexico, I had two U.S. credit cards that were paid automatically in full every month via a connection with my U.S. bank, Banamex USA, the American outpost of the Mexican financial behemoth Banamex.

In 2014, a U.S. law known as FATCA caused Banamex USA to unceremoniously cancel my checking account, leaving me with no way whatsoever to pay my U.S. credit cards.

I opened accounts at HSBC-Mexico and BBVA Bancomer. I now have credit cards from both. Getting one from Bancomer was easy. Getting one from HSBC was like pulling teeth.

I use credit cards 99.9 percent for online purchases, and my credit score is inching up slowly. For easy access to your credit bureau score, the Buró de Crédito requires an account with them, which costs about 200 pesos a year.

After a few weeks of sleepless nights after Banamex USA zapped my only U.S. bank, I was back in business with the Mexican banks and credit cards.*

FATCA also threw a wrench into my PayPal account.

PayPal is not the same everywhere. Previously, I had the U.S. version. I canceled it and opened a Mexican PayPal which, like Mexican credit cards, works anywhere.

Again, everything is back in order, working smoothly, and I now have almost no financial ties with the United States, which puts a smug smile on my Mexican mug.

* * * *

* We have three credit cards. One with my name from HSBC. Another with my name from Bancomer, plus a third, piggybacked on my account, with my wife’s name and a different card number. She’s never used it. She’s as averse to debt as I am and has never used a credit card in her life.

(NOTE: The United States is the only nation in the world that wants to  suck tax earnings from what its citizens earn in other countries while living in those other countries. In other words, if you move to Ghana, open a store, earn a few Ghana bucks, Uncle Sam wants a cut! Freaking incredible.)