This morning, I received an email from a regular reader of PogoWasRight.org, who is appalled at the way his bank changed their policies. Here’s the relevant text from the bank’s newly revised policy that went into effect on June 1:
CELLULAR PHONE CONTACT POLICY
By providing us with a telephone number for a cellular phone or other wireless device, you are expressly consenting to receiving communications – including but not limited to prerecorded or artifical voice message calls, text messages, and calls made by an automatic telephone dialing system – from us and our affiliates and agents at that number. This express consent applies to each such telephone number that you provide to us now or in the future and permits such calls regardless of their purpose. Calls and messages may incur access fees from your cellular provider.
That’s pretty egregious, isn’t it? And yet, if this type of thing is, indeed, industry-wide, where does it leave consumers who are not living in California, where customers do have some right to limit sharing of information?
I wonder what would happen if you told your bank that you changed your phone number and declined to give them the new number. Would they close your account? Or what if when you went to open your account, you had lots of lovely identification information but told them that you do not own a phone? Would they refuse to open an account for you?
And what if we do not give them our number directly but they obtain it through Caller ID? Can they then use that number to contact us and also give it to their affiliates? Do we need to use Caller ID blocking to prevent them from seeing our cellphone number if we should call them?
I don’t necessarily mind my bank being able to contact me if there’s some problem with my account, and there are times when I would actually appreciate a call. It’s these unwanted calls and calls from affiliates that need to be reined in. In today’s world, many people do not own landlines and cell phones are their only phones. To have a number that might be jealously guarded given out to “affiliates” and to have to agree to incur unwanted phone charges so that they can advertise is just…. violative of our privacy.
Who is looking out for our privacy? And do we need Congress to make the California Financial Information Privacy Act the basis for federal law?