Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stalkers: Capital One Credit Card Has Totally Creepy Terms of Service

I guess I won't be getting a Capital One credit card anytime soon.
Does Capital One's Terms of Service make them
creepy stalkers? Some people think so.  

David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times found some really creepy details in the fine print terms of service verbiage that comes with the credit card.

Hat tip to Ellen Cronin via Facebook for alerting me to this.

Lazarus writes: "The update specifies that 'we may contact you in any manner we choose' and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a 'personal visit.'

"As if that weren't creepy enough, Cap One says these visits can be 'at you home and at your place of employement.'"

Of course, as Lazarus points out, the 4th Amendment to the Constitution bars searches and seizures like the one described in the Cap One terms of service. However, the 4th Amendment only applies to government agents. Private companies like Cap One are not covered by the 4th Amendment, so apparently this is legal.

Also in the Cap One terms of service, says Lazarus: "We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose."

Again, as Lazarus notes, that's called spoofing.  They can just use a local number to pretend the person calling might be somebody you know, or pretend to be some benign charity request call.

Lazarus contacted a company spokesperson, who said that Cap One wouldn't visit somebody's home or office except in very rare instances when a big ticket item needs to be repossessed. The spokesperson also said that Cap One wants their calls on people's cell phone so identify the company correctly, but sometimes local phone service doesn't allow that.

The spokesperson said some of the language has been there for years, but people are noticing now.

I totally agree with Lazarus when he says that, if the spokesperson is right, why not just say it like the PR person did in the terms of service language?  Cap One says it's reviewing the language. But is the review happeneing only because a pesky reporter or two is calling with questions about the terms of service verbiage?

Look, I understand banks and other businesses have to be fairly aggressive to make sure some recalcitrant debtors pay up. But the language in the Cap One is tantamount to stalking.

Anyway, I don't trust this. I'm staying away from Capital One. So they can just stop sending me letters in the mail Every. Single. Day. telling me to sign up for their cards.

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