Computer Crime Research Center


AMEX: We Can Spam You and Make You Pay for It

Date: March 11, 2009

“Do you carry an American Express card?” asks Wealth Preservation &Tax Consultant Mark Nestmann.

“If you do, you need to know about new new terms of service effective April 2, 2009 under which AMEX can try to contact you at any phone number even remotely connected with your account.”

Here's an excerpt:

“You authorize us to call or send a text message to you at any number you give us or from which you call us, including mobile phones. You authorize us to make such calls using automatic telephone dialing systems for any lawful purpose, including but not limited to: suspected fraud or identity theft; Account transactions or servicing; offers of American Express products and services; and collecting on your Account. You authorize us to place prerecorded calls in connection with the status of your account, or security and identity theft matters. You agree to pay any fees or charges you incur for incoming calls or text messages from us without reimbursement.”

“If you don't accept these new conditions, you need to contact AMEX immediately and cancel your account. When I called AMEX to inquire about the new policy, a customer service representative told me that I could opt out of any marketing-related phone communication under the new policy.”

“However, opting out isn't legally binding, although if you decide not to cancel your AMEX account, I recommend you opt out of as many types of communications as possible. Otherwise, AMEX can call you anytime, day or night, with pre-recorded sales pitches, text message spam, or for any other reason. And what happens if someone steals your cell phone and a phone or text message arrives broadcasting your personal information to the thief? That's an invitation to disaster.”

“Plus, if AMEX calls or texts you on a cell phone, you may be paying to listen to their sales pitch. If you travel frequently on an expensive international roaming rate, you could easily pay several dollars each time the company tries to contact you.”

“Then there's the question of having AMEX contact you at any number from which you call. That means if you contact AMEX from a phone owned by a friend, family member, or business associate, the company can spam that number, too.”
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