Lab issues Required Account Documentation notice

secondlifeIn November, the Lab commenced e-mail users meeting certain criteria to submit tax documentation to the Lab. The requests were met with a certain amount of confusion, which the Lab attempted to clarify later that month via a blog post on the matter.

On Tuesday January 14th 2014, the Lab issued a new blog post indicating that they would once more be contacting users who again meet certain criteria with a request they provide required account documentation required by the Lab to fulfil its legal obligations.

The blog post, which appeared in the Commerce section of the SL blog (and thus avoided appearing on users’ dashboards), reads in full:

In addition to required tax documentation (which we blogged about in November 2013), US law separately requires that institutions such as Linden Lab obtain, verify, and record information confirming the identification of account holders who submit a certain volume and/or amount of Process Credit Requests.

We have recently begun emailing users who need to submit this information. If you receive such a notice from us, you will need to follow the instructions and provide the required documentation within thirty (30) days.

These emails are being sent through our Support system. If you are among those individuals who need to provide this information, you can verify the request in your Case History in the Support Portal and reply to the Case if you have any related questions.

There has already been some consternation on Plurk on the matter of required documentation, noticeably among merchants requesting to upgrade the Business Level of their account, only to find their ability to cash-out frozen while they supply the required information and who have yet to receive any e-mail from the Lab forewarning them of these requirements.  While perhaps a matter of unfortunate timing on terms of such requests being made and e-mail being sent out, it does also perhaps suggest that (again) the Lab need to rethink their approach to handling what might be regarded as critical communications with their users.

This could be handled simply by the Lab ensuring such announcements appear on the dashboard of people’s accounts (regardless as to how widely or not LL believe the dashboard might be used) and, given they have an “official” presence on both Plurk and Twitter, actually Plurked and Tweeted, particularly given the information given in such blog posts is of far more import to people than pointers to the Pic of the Day, at least until the supporting e-mail arrives in their in-box.

12 thoughts on “Lab issues Required Account Documentation notice

  1. Looking at the tax forms mentioned, I think the 30-day deadline may be a little tight for non-US persons. It depends on what info may be needed for form W-8BEN. When I checked the US governments instructions, it seems a physical form has to be mailed to Linden Labs. But this new notice suggests that people have to do something else, supplying some different and unspecified document. Am I misreading it, or are we seeing another Linden Labs cock-up?

    It seems a little careless if the details of the paperwork required are only going in the emails they send. It’s getting into “first rule of fight club” territory. And it looks as though people have been asked to supply 2 distinct sets of paperwork, at different times—”before the end of the year” and now. Who gets the blame if Linden Labs make a mistake?


    1. The new request is for separate documentation. Speculation is that it is something to do with the US authorities tightening-up on the risk of money laundering activities. As such, people have apparently had the likes of the Patriot Act quoted at them – although in what capacity isn’t entirely clear. Nor, in fairness, is it clear whether this is something that the Lab is actually being made to jump through hoops in order to ensure those entities making the requests are satisified.

      But, even if the Lab have been caught a little offside by the US authorities, the communications surrounding the request – such as informing people as to what is going on & what may well be dropping into their in boxes – isn’t exactly stellar. Again.


  2. I received the email. I checked my support history, and saw no record of the support case. I called Billing, since the email purported to come from them, and the support person knew nothing about it. I wrote to “Tommy Linden”, which is the name of the AVATAR (not the person) who sent the email, and received no reply. There was no blog post.

    Later I put the Support Case # into the Support History search field and was able finally to see the support case.

    Typical communication by LL on a matter of some importance.


    1. Just now I got another email from LL Support, which said: “Three days ago, we requested more information about your issue. The information has not been provided, so we believe the issue has been resolved and we are changing the issue’s status to closed.”

      So now I am back in the dark. Am I supposed to provide this documentation or not?


  3. Something a friend noticed the other day, and I wonder if it’s related to all of this… LL has quietly removed the ability to “Increase Credit”.. that is to say, they’ve removed the ability to proactively add USD to your account.

    From a business owner’s perspective, this isn’t a super big deal, as I use money from sales of L$ to pay my tier and membership.. (and intentionally maintain a positive balance to mitigate any fluctuations in sales month-to-month).

    But there was a time when I operated out of pocket, and would ‘add’ USD to my account when times were good, so that it would be there to cover my tier and membership when times were bad. I know it caught my friend off guard because he likes to put in a buffer when he has the cash to do so.. and now he can’t.

    Just to reiterate, he can purchase L$ and be debited “on demand” from his payment sources.. or he can wait til his tier or membership is due and be ‘billed’ for those costs.. but he can’t add money to his account any more, in advance of those billings.


    1. The add credit option disappeared quite a few months ago, around the time when LL changed the rules about where you could buy and sell Linden Dollars.

      I’m sure the removal of that feature and this required documentation are in some way linked to LL having to tighten up procedures to comply with laws.


      1. It definitely all feels connected.. like some kind of massive re-engineering of how they were doing business where users and dollars were concerned. Unfortunately, their ‘money’ department is never very good at communicating plans and intent the same way that their departments for viewer features are.

        And that’s saying something.. because let’s face it, even the best communicating parts of LL aren’t very good at letting the users and third party developers in on what’s coming soon.

        But yeah, the inability to ‘just put USD on your account’ combined with the ‘you can only sell L$ in our L$ store’ and now this heavier handed stuff regarding taxes and identification.. it has a ring of ‘we have to do this’. But I’ll never for the life of me, understand why when put in that situation, LL can’t just say “we have to do this”. It would buy them a lot of good will to pass the blame when it deserves to be passed.


        1. As a long time critic of LL’s communication policy I agree with you wholeheartedly. This isn’t LL’s fault, laws require them to gather this information, they have to comply, most people understand their hands are tied, so just let people know.

          However this goes back a long way, when LL introduced VAT I discovered this whilst checking my account balance, there had been no notification, that arrived shortly after and this was back when LL were better at communications and yet, again with their hands largely tied, they still struggled to inform people what was going on in a timely fashion.


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