HSBC Really Wants Your Cellphone Number To Alert You To Suspicious Activity (Oh, And Also To Make Collections Calls)

According to this post from yesterday, the folks at HSBC’s collections dept. have such a trigger finger on the redial button that they made a list of most-blocked phone numbers. And now we have a pretty good idea where HSBC is getting permission to call up customers’ cellphones.

Consumerist reader Greg says he’s noticed that HSBC has been making a big push to get cell numbers, urging credit card customers to “Update your Cell Phone number to be contacted about important information, like suspicious activity on your Account.”

But when Greg looked at the fine print on the next page, he noticed that it reads [emphasis ours], “By providing your number in the Cell Phone field, you are granting us permission to use the number via call, including auto dialers, or text message for Account Servicing including (but not limited to) customer service, suspicious transaction activity and collections.”

See, this little bit of fine print gets HSBC around the “written consent” requirement for the company to auto-dial you about, well… anything, really.

It’s worth mentioning that HSBC’s credit card business was bought by Capital One last year and that Cap One takes up two spots on that same most-blocked number list.

This is why we recommend using services like Skype or Google Voice that allow you to have a phone number that you only use for giving to companies that require a phone number.

And if you inadvertently opt in to robocalls on your cell phone, you should immediately look up how to opt out. The HSBC fine print says you can do so by calling the customer service number of the back of the credit card (and presumably sifting through three levels of customer service reps).


Edit Your Comment

  1. Patriot says:

    I already use my throwaway home phone number or a completely fake number when appropriate. Those who have my cellphone number are only those I know personally. (Yet I still get told I’ve won a free cruise on my cell every few weeks)

    • 180CS says:

      1. Get a google voice number attached to a throwaway email address.

      2. Make the voicemail recording sound like you picked up. “Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?”
      ^This gives the autodialer time to hand the call over to a real CSR.

      3. Wait 5 seconds, then start going off on a tangent about nothing for the next minute.

      4. “*laugh* Thanks for talking to a prerecorded message. Leave yours after the beep, and noone will get back to you as soon as possible.”

      • Not Given says:

        I may record that message soon.

        GV also has global spam filtering you can enable that sends call directly to your spam folder if it’s something that has been identified by them as spam.

        • 180CS says:

          Yep! I use that setting on my real GV line, and I use Mr. Number on my android to block any spammers who actually got a hold of my real cell number.

      • 401k says:

        I love those. When I was unfortunate enough to work collections I would let your voicemail record dead air for as long as it would keep going to avoid the talking to the next loser who can’t pay their bills.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      I once gave Radio Shack their own phone number when the guy registering my purchase asked for it. He didn’t even blink.

      • cspschofield says:

        I’ve never worked for Radio Shack, but I’ve worked for other retail companies that expect their register people to sell you the flippin’ earth AND get lots of personal information to boot. I think that the demise of Circuit City, Suncoast, and some other indicates that this is a deeply flawed business model, but the ‘experts’ probably disagree with me. I know that nobody I’ve ever known who works a register is ever the least bit surprised at anything people say to deflect corporate nosiness.

  2. sadar17 says:

    The thing I really hate is when people give out a “fake” cell phone number that turns out to be mine or my boyfriends. Last year he went through hell trying to convince Macy’s that he wasn’t Sharon and didn’t have an account with them. I consistently get calls from collections agencies for a variety of companies since some lovely guy has given out my number as his own to everyone, even the car dealer where he tried to buy a car. The worst part is not one of the callers will believe that we don’t know these people, never have and that we have no debts that they need to collect on. When I ask to get removed they claim they need my social (like that’s happening) to remove the number. It’s a giant pain for us and just really pisses me off

    • bbb111 says:

      When I got a new phone number after moving (a land line a while ago) It started ringing with lots of collection calls for the previous owner of the number. Of course the collector wouldn’t (didn’t want to) accept the idea that when a number is reassigned, it is not the same person or address.

      At first I was polite, then I went to the quick “don’t call this number again” (which was usually ignored).

      Next I started to be polite and they would get abusive demanding that I tell them how to reach the deadbeat – I would then say that I would have given them the contact info, but since they were rude to me I won’t . . (click) . This left them thinking that they might have succeeded. It did lead to a few extra follow up calls, but if I wasn’t too busy I would continue with the charade of being insulted.

      • Sad Sam says:

        I’ve been getting calls for Carlos ___________ on our home line for years. And my home phone number has been my number for 10+ years. But more than likely, after doing some research Carlos was associated with my home address at some point and now my home phone number is associated with the address and they put two and two together.

        I’d love to send these folks a cease and desist letter but they won’t tell me who they are b/c I’m not Carlos. I need to send the letter before I can sue for big money.

  3. PragmaticGuy says:

    This is old news and it’s the same reason they ask for email addresses as well. Any way to contact you is better than calling neighbors and asking them to give you a message. By the way, if you pay your bill on time you don’t have this problem.

    • who? says:

      Pay your bill on time, yada, yada, yada….whatever. I pay my bills on time. I get collection calls on my cell phone for some chick named Nicole who had my cell number 7 years ago. I get collection calls on my home phone for someone with a name that’s similar to my wife’s, who lives in a different part of town. I get collection calls for a bill that I paid on time, years ago. And I get collection calls for a bill that is in dispute. How does this “pay your bills on time” thing keep me from getting collection calls again?

      I’m still not giving anybody my cell number, especially to scumbags like HSBC.

  4. mistyfire says:

    I am very picky on giving out my cell number. Even Gmail is asking for it now. I always use “skip” I will not even fill in a throwaway if there is a way to skip over it.

    • Banished to the Corner says:

      I was ‘forced’ to set up a gmail account when I bought my phone earlier this year. I tried to access it from my home to place an automatic message on there to tell anyone that sent an e-mail that it wasn’t a monitored e-mail account…blah blah blah. I got a message back that says the password is wrong (I know it’s not) and if I wanted to reset it I need to give them the full names, e-mail and phone number of 3 friends/family.

      Needless to say, I will never use that silly account. My phone has the password in memory, so when I think of it I go in and mark all the e-mails as spam.

    • bbb111 says:

      Use numbers with the area codes 809, 649, or 284.

  5. nightfly44 says:

    Last cellphone number I got previously belonged to a call girl. took about six months to get her customers to believe I wasn’t her pimp. Basically, when someone called, I turned it into a gay obscene phone call. Then they stopped. You can’t be charged with an obscene phone call if you are the one who was called, so make those wrong numbers or crediit collection calls fun!

  6. Press1forDialTone says:

    Well all I can say is : DUH!
    Don’t be a dope and ever give your mobile number to any kind of credit grantor.
    That advice what inside the front cover of your Dick and Jane reader in
    kindergarten. Shame on your teacher if she/he didn’t go over it with you.

  7. SeeReeves says:

    In order to manage the loans I was provided my university, I had to sign a terms of agreement with the same wording. I had no choice.