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Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces

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  • Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces

    The credit card company's recent contract update includes terms that sound menacing and creepy.
    David Lazarus

    4:32 PM PST, February 17, 2014

    Ding-dong, Cap One calling.

    Credit card issuer Capital One isn't shy about getting into customers' faces. The company recently sent a contract update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases.

    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 your home and at your place of employment."

    The police need a court order to pull off something like that. But Cap One says it has the right to get up close and personal anytime, anywhere.

    Rick Rofman, 71, of Van Nuys received the contract update the other day. He was spooked by the visitation rights Cap One was claiming for itself.

    "Even the Internal Revenue Service cannot visit you at home without an arrest warrant," Rofman observed.

    Indeed, you'd think the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, would make this sort of thing verboten.

    Apparently not.

    "It sounds really invasive, but I don't think it's a violation of your 4th Amendment rights," said Daniel E. Kann, a Santa Clarita lawyer who specializes in illegal-search cases.

    He explained that the amendment applies primarily to searches and seizures by law enforcement, not civilians. A credit card company, in theory, could reserve the right to visit your home or office without a court order, Kann said.

    But he emphasized that there are laws against harassment, not to mention stalking, and Cap One could be held accountable under such statutes if, say, it took to inviting itself over for dinner or hanging around your cubicle.

    Incredibly, Cap One's aggressiveness doesn't stop with personal visits. The company's contract update also includes this little road apple:

    "We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose."

    Now that's just freaky. Cap One is saying it can trick you into picking up the phone by using what looks like a local number or masquerading as something it's not, such as Save the Puppies or a similarly friendly-seeming bogus organization.

    This is known as spoofing, and it's perfectly legal. As I've written before, the federal Truth in Caller ID Act makes it a crime to use a phony number or caller ID message to commit fraud or cause harm to others.

    But it's not against the law to engage in what courts have called "non-harmful spoofing," which includes businesses wearing digital disguises to penetrate a consumer's phone defenses.

    Such corporate spoofing is employed primarily by telemarketers. It's weird, to say the least, for this practice to be so publicly adopted by a major credit card issuer.

    Emily Rusch, executive director of the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization, said it's especially troubling for Cap One to declare itself a spoofer as people grapple with recent security breaches involving Target, Neiman Marcus and other businesses.

    "Now more than ever, consumers need to be able to trust companies," she said.

    So what does Cap One have to say?

    Pam Girardo, a company spokeswoman, told me that Cap One isn't quite as much like Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" as the company's contract lingo might suggest.

    "Capital One does not visit our cardholders, nor do we send debt collectors to their homes or work," Girardo said.

    The exception to that, she said, is when it comes to big-ticket sporting goods. Cap One has partnerships with makers of gear 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.

    So Cap One is saying it's more "Repo Man" than "Fatal Attraction."

    I asked Girardo about the spoofing. What's up with that?

    "Actually, we want our calls to display as Capital One on caller ID, and that's the way they are programmed," she replied. "However, 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."

    That's not what the contract update says, though. It says, ominously, that Cap One can "modify or suppress" people's caller ID capabilities and identify itself "in any manner we choose."

    But let's give Cap One the benefit of the doubt. Let's accept that the company isn't as menacing as it sounds.

    That raises the question of why Cap One is sending out this bizarre contract language in the first place rather than explaining in plain English, as Girardo did, what its true intentions are.

    Girardo said only that Cap One is "reviewing this language." I take this as an indication that, now that a little sunlight has been applied, the company is not as comfortable as it previously was with behaving like a total psycho.

    In the meantime, cardholders can make up their own minds. Do they want to believe the non-binding explanations of a company representative or the legally enforceable language that's currently in their written contracts?

    And while they're pondering that, they may want to watch out for bunnies boiling on the stove.

    David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to [email protected].

    Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

  • #2
    I would never do business with them and if I already had done business with them I would do whatever i needed to close all accounts. Ridiculous. So customers who pay bills on time could also get a visit? Really? i think not.


    • #3
      I read that, but I also heard that they're just saying they might show up at a person's house to repo items they bought with the credit card but never paid for. Not that they would just show up for a random reason.

      And it's not true that the IRS needs an arrest warrant to show up at someone's house. A relative of mine has a small business, and ended up owing quite a lot of taxes. The IRS sent someone to his house to set up payment arrangements. He wasn't under arrest, or at risk of being arrested.


      • #4
        Anyone wishing to collect one of my old debts is MORE than welcome to visit my home, call from any bogus phone number, whatever floats their boat. I will happily pull out my Chapter 7 discharge, and pursue any and all violations in court.


        • #5
          I wished they would come to my house just to see
          their expressions on their faces as my dogs 'greet them'
          and when my dogs start destroying their papers.

          Of course I will serve them day old instant coffee.
          Golden Jubilee was a year-long celebration held every 50 years in which all bondmen were freed, mortgaged lands were restored to the original owners, and land was left fallow: Lev. 25:8-17


          • #6
            haha! CBS did a story about this on the news. while they CAN come to ones home to attempt a debt, they were calming the public since they were up in arms about this news that they really attempted to calm everyone down.

            cap one has been frankly, excellent to us. we listed them on our BK and still they were the first legit lending institution that didn't gauge us to death with high interest and gave us reasonable limits to start. i think now i'm close to my limit being 10k also backrclay's which we have the same line with reason interest rates although they are still high i think 12.99 -16.99 now. although we pay them off each month.

            the other thing was this, when we needed a new car we were approved for 38k instantly the rate was rather high like 5.1% but they didn't get much as i paid off the car in 5 months. funny thing about that was a few weeks ago our credit union called and said we were approved up to 50k @ 2.5% or even lower! really didn't matter at this point., however, my point is this, cap one is more BK friendly than most.

            good luck to you!
            Last edited by tobee43; 03-16-2014, 09:02 AM.
            8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK


            • #7
              I had a credit union (visa $15k) show up.
              Discharged- pro se- chapter 7~!


              • #8
                Originally posted by anykey View Post
                I had a credit union (visa $15k) show up.
                Wow. They came to your house? That was ballsy of them.
                ~~ Filed Over Median Income Chapter 7: 12/17/2010 ~~ 341 Held: 1/12/2011 ~~ Discharged: 03/16/2011 ~~
                Not an attorney - just an opinionated woman.


                • #9
                  It all so doesn't matter. I just like to remind everyone! U will have so much credit then what???? Buy buy buy lol,
                  8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK


                  • #10
                    OH! no way to your house???
                    8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tobee43 View Post
                      OH! no way to your house???
                      I am so never going to worry about this crap again! It freaks me out just reading it.
                      Discharge date: October 2017 (will it ever get here?)


                      • #12
                        Major credit card companies do not even show up at 341 meetings. There is no money to be made chasing debtors. They leave that to collection agencies that purchase bad debt.


                        • #13
                          Cap 1 nor any of the others are going to "show up" anywhere. What they do is hire a contract agency that uses independent contractors to show up and deliver you a letter. When someone "shows up", they will ask for you ID in order to place a letter in your hand. If you do not or will not provide the ID, then they will ask for you to call a person at a specific phone number.

                          As always, if you are attempting to avoid anyone, then just don't answer the door. If the contractor is out of line with his/her behavior, call 911.

                          No problem..............
                          All information contained in this post is for informational and amusement purposes only.
                          Bankruptcy is a process, not an event.......


                          • #14
                            Well said, frogger!

                            Anyone who has your address can show up, or send somebody else to show up at your door, even if no contract exits between you. It is up to you whether to answer the door. CapitalOne putting it in their agreement is stupid, but it didn't change anything.
                            LadyInTheRed is in the black!
                            Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
                            $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


                            • #15
                              Feel free to jump over my locked 6 foot gate in my yard surrounded by a six foot fence with an inner locked six foot gate where the cars are locked. With a very noisy, threatening, barking black dog and security screen doors and rejas on all our windows and a security alarm and backed up to a 12 gauge shotgun.

                              Have at it.
                              Last edited by sbatman; 08-02-2014, 12:54 PM. Reason: grammar


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