Capital One recently updated its contract to its credit cardholders, which says the credit card issuer can drop by your home any time it pleases, without your permission. Not even the police or the IRS can do that without a warrant.
David Lazarus reports for the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17, 2014, that Rick Rofman, 71, of Van Nuys received Capital One’s contract update specifying that “we may contact you in any manner we choose” and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit . . . at your home and at your place of employment.”
Rofman was spooked by the visitation rights and observed that “Even the Internal Revenue Service cannot visit you at home without an arrest warrant.”
Doesn’t the 4th Amendment of the Constitution guard against unreasonable searches and seizures like what Cap One is claiming for itself?
Daniel E. Kann, a Santa Clarita lawyer who specializes in illegal-search cases, says, “It sounds really invasive, but I don’t think it’s a violation of your 4th Amendment rights” because 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.
However, Kann points out there are laws against harassment, not to mention stalking, and Capital One could be held accountable under such statutes if its visits can be construed as harassment.
But Capital One’s contract update includes another outrage: “We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.”
That means Capital One can trick you into picking up the phone by using what looks like a local number or masquerading as something it’s not.
This is known as spoofing, and it’s perfectly legal. 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.