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The Independent

You would think that everyone, when it comes to managing bank payments, would take the whole thing seriously – you know, given it’s your actual money you use to actually buy things.

Yet for one Reddit user, known only as Joe, he decided to label payments to his friends as “Taliban training”, “Jihad fee” and “ISIS training”, and it went about as well as you’d expect.

Posting it to the ‘r/funny’ subreddit, the user simply wrote “my bank told me off”, attaching a customer service message he received from Starling Bank.

The email, from an employee named Sam, reads: “Hi Joe, you have recently marked payments ‘taliban training’, ‘Jihad fee’ and ‘Isis training’. While we appreciate that you are probably having a joke with your friends, we are obliged to investigate such matters which is time consuming.

“Be assured your friend’s banks will be doing the same.

“This is a polite request to ask you to cease marking payments in this manner. Thank you for your cooperation.”

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It should hopefully go without saying why you shouldn’t jokingly imply you’re a terrorist on your bank statements, but in case you need further evidence of why this is a Very Bad Idea, experts have also warned that inappropriate transaction references can also affect your chances of getting a mortgage.

John Webb, consumer affairs executive for the credit score company Experian, told Manchester Evening News in 2019: “Doing a thorough review of your income and spending well in advance is crucial. Along with your credit report, lenders are likely to take a keen look at your bank statement transactions when you apply.

“So keep your spending under control and, of course, avoid witty payment references that a mortgage underwriter might not look favourably on.”

Other Reddit users were also critical of the move in the comments of the post, with many remarking that it was far from a ‘funny’ story.

“It’s all fun and games until one day you want to go on vacation and find out you can’t get on any [planes]. That or get singled out for extra security screening at airports,” wrote one account.

Another replied: “Speedrunning your way onto an FBI list 101.”

“You’re lucky they didn’t freeze your accounts,” said a third.

According to several users who claimed to be involved in the banking industry, there’s also the risk of an account being closed due to suspicious transaction names.

“This is a very, very, very stupid idea,” one user, purporting to be a banker, wrote.

We’re inclined to agree with them.

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