Capital One Can Spoof You

Mar 17, 2014 by

credit card agreementsDo you read your credit card agreement? I don’t. They’re way too tedious. Instead I just make the assumption in such matters that if I don’t toe the line—in this case pay my bill on time—I’m going to suffer a lot of ugly consequences and there’s probably not going to be a thing I can do about it.

Credit Card Agreements Are Fascinating Documents

But I am sufficiently warped to find entertaining at times studying what credit card agreements actually say. For example, Ms. Money Counselor has a Capital One account, and I recently found this clause in her agreement with Capital One:

Capital One credit card agreement

Scanned from Ms. Money Counselor’s Capital One agreement.

I’d reduce this typically wordy and partly impenetrable section to: “We may contact you how ever we want, when ever we want, where ever we want, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it, nah, nah, nah-nah, nah. Your Master, Capital One.”

I found especially interesting the sentence in the last paragraph of Capital One’s Communications clause that reserves the right to trick its customers into accepting its calls by disguising its identity: “Unless the law says we cannot, we may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.”

Does that mean Capital One reserves the right to impersonate my recently deceased mother’s phone number if it calls me? That would be a bit unnerving.

Wait—Doesn’t the FTC Regulate Debt Collection Calls?

You may vaguely be aware of federal law that seeks to control the degree to which debt collectors can harass debtors. You’re thinking of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The purpose of the FDCPA is to “to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.”

According to the FTC’s website, a debt collector may not:

  • Contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night, unless you agree
  • Contact you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to get calls there
  • Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone
  • Use a false company name

So how does Capital One seemingly ignore these regulations? Simple: it’s not a debt collector, it’s a credit card issuer. These regulations do not apply to Capital One.

Have You Read Your Credit Card Agreement?

Do you typically read or ignore your credit card agreements?

What do you think of Capital One’s Communications clause?

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