Since the St. Louis incident blog post, we have received many questions about traveling with cash and whether or not you are required to answer questions about the cash you are traveling with. Francine Kerner, TSA’s Chief Counsel was kind enough to take some time and address your questions. ~ Blogger Bob
Sometimes a TSA officer may ask a passenger who is carrying a large sum of cash to account for the money. You have asked why such a question is posed and whether a passenger is required to answer.
In reacting to potential security problems or signs of criminal activity, TSA officers are trained to ask questions and assess passenger reactions, including whether a passenger appears to be cooperative and forthcoming in responding.
TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips.
When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.
The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer’s decision to call law-enforcement authorities.
TSA Chief Counsel