As if nagging calls from your credit card issuer weren’t enough, customers who have a Capital One account may find themselves opening their door to representatives from the company. An update to the company's legal language 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,” reports David Lazarus from the Los Angeles Times.
In addition, the visits may be at your home or place of employment. (No mention was made of fine suits and baseball bats.)
Another tidbit from the update notes, "We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose."
As in, they can dupe you into picking up the phone by falsely identifying themselves as a more agreeable caller. This sly trick is known as spoofing, and it's actually legal, according to Lazarus. The courts have deemed that non-harmful spoofing, which includes businesses wearing “digital disguises to penetrate a consumer's phone defenses,” is acceptable.
So be warned, if you’re a Capital One customer, the company can call you using a phony ID and if you ignore them long enough, they may come a-knocking.
But putting the contract's fine print aside, Capital One spokeswoman Pam Girardo is here to quell the creepiness. She notes that, "Capital One does not visit our cardholders, nor do we send debt collectors to their homes or work.” (Unless it comes to high-end sporting goods that the company has financed; the company has partnerships with manufacturers of sport vehicles like jet skis and snowmobiles.)
"As a last resort, we may go to a customer's home after appropriate notification if it becomes necessary to repossess the sports vehicle," Girardo said.
And on that note, Girardo said that the company is reviewing the contract language, "because we do not want to create any unnecessary insecurity among our customers." Furthermore, they are "considering creating two separate agreements, given this language doesn’t apply to our general cardholder base.”
When asked about the phony spoofing, Girardo replied that the calls are programmed to display as Capital One on caller ID, but that, “some local phone exchanges may display our number differently. This is beyond our control, and we want our cardholders to be aware of that potential occurrence."
Which, as Lazarus points out, is not what the contract update notes. “It says, ominously, that Cap One can 'modify or suppress' people's caller ID capabilities and identify itself in 'any manner we choose'."
And while this may all sound a bit too Big Brother, MSN Money urges us to remember that the contract update doesn't grant Capital One any rights it doesn't already have.
“Anyone can knock on your door. This isn't unconstitutional or illegal,” MSN notes. “Think of Capital One as a vacuum cleaner salesman.”
Lazarus reports on the story in the video below:
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