Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Be Careful of Capital One Mailings

Capitol One ("What's in your wallet?") sent me a bit of deceptive snail mail today. I felt sure it was a credit card offer, and sure enough, it was. I open all credit card offers and shred them before putting them in the trash. Normally I just scan the front to make sure I don't miss anything; the Capital One offer made me stop for a moment and strike a bit of fear into my heart.

The letter's opening sentence read:
Our records as of December 30, 2009 indicate your Capital One Platinum MasterCard offer is currently valid and active.
Not paying close attention during the first reading, I quickly developed this irrational worry that I was actually on the hook for something important, but I wasn't quite sure what. The letter listed "three ways to reply" at the bottom; via phone, the internet, and regular snail mail. I elected to call.

Once I reached the automated phone response system, the first entry offered was '1', to "activate my Capital One offer or to remove my name from their mailing list." That was interesting. So I pressed '1'. I was almost immediately talking to a young woman, who wanted a 16 digit number printed above my name and address on the offer letter. I gave that to her, then quickly explained I wanted to remove my name from any further mailings. She said "all right" and started to verify my name and address.

Then she asked for my phone number. I asked "why?". She replied so that she could enter it into the computer record she was working on so that I would not be called. I asked her if she didn't have it already; I didn't ask her if she could read my number on her phone via caller ID. She said she didn't have it, and asked for it again. When I determined she didn't really have it I declined to give it to her. I then hung up.

There are two problems with asking for my phone number. First, there's the National Do Not Call Registry. Second is the Florida Do Not Call Program (as I live in Florida). And the fact I'm in both. No, I think the reason they were asking for my phone number was to add that little bit of intelligence to whatever database they have, or else to verify what was coming across caller ID. I have no idea.

What got to me hooked into this is I briefly thought I was dealing with an already activated credit card. That's what happens when you're home after work, tired, and just skimming down the page. It didn't fully sort itself out until I started to dial the number, and then I just got angry. Talking to them on the phone made me angrier. If you get something like this in the mail, know it for what it is, and shred it (like I did) before throwing it in the trash. I know what's in my wallet, and it will never be anything from Capital One.

3 comments:

  1. I've been getting that exact same mail for the past four MONTHS! I so agree with you. I called them to opt out, the automated machine told me to punch in my phone number. Assumed they already had it, so I put it in, and then it asked me for my SOCIAL SECURITY. I hung up. The mail kept coming. And I found out they check my credit report every month. This company is a scam and I can't even opt out!

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  2. I tried both of these methods to stop mailings. I also stopped just short of the phone number and the SS#. What is our alternative? I am thinking of sending the dXXX mailings back to them. any suggestions?

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  3. You should never give your SSN to anyone over the phone. I don't care who they are.

    Every legitimate firm I do business with (such as the power company or my bank) will ask for very specific information, such as to verify the digits of my street address, a number they'll quote to me, or a portion of my bank transaction number, again a number they'll quote to me.

    You should never ever give out any personal information. Your personal information is very valuable and can be used against you, primarily in identity theft.

    As for what to do, all I can say is contact your appropriate state authorities and let them know what is happening. It won't end instantly, but it will never end unless you report it.

    As for myself, I have not had any more mailings.

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