Lent 2014 – 4: It Smells REALLY Fishy in Here

While you may not personally be a member of USAA, of if you are, you may not use the mobile app, this is a cautionary tale for anyone who uses mobile apps.  While they have become the norm and while they are incredibly convenient and entertaining, please stop and ask yourself what you are giving up and what terms you are agreeing to for that convenience and entertainment.  If nothing else, at least read what the app is able to do before you blindly agree to download it onto your phone.  Our privacy isn’t stolen from us; we give it away bit by bit. 


Dear Maj. Gen. Josue Robles Jr.,

I have been a member of USAA Insurance since 2003 and I have always been a huge supporter of the company and what you stand for.  On your own website you maintain that, since 1922 you have “remained true to their founding values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity. “  In my eleven years as a member you have been with me when I was in an accident and my car was totaled, when my vehicle was broken into and valuables were stolen, and when my home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground resulting in a total loss.  In each circumstance I viewed my membership as a God send and I felt that you had epitomized the values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity. This last week I found myself questioning if you really understood what those values meant, of if you, like so many corporations before you, have begun to lose your way. 

After experiencing such great service with my insurance through USAA, I signed up for a checking and savings account as well.  I do almost all of my bill pay online and USAA has been very easy to use to transfer money from one account to another even between different financial institutions.  Since you do not have any brick and mortar locations, online banking is absolutely necessary.  I was thrilled to discover the USAA Mobile App, which made things even more convenient for me.  When you added the feature that allowed me to take a picture of a check and have it directly deposited into my account, I was practically over the moon.  So when I received a notice on my phone that there was a newer version of the USAA Mobile App for me to download, I almost clicked on it without thinking twice, because why would I? You have proven to me that you demonstrate service, loyalty, honesty, and integrity, so what harm could there possibly be in upgrading an app that I have been using for quite some time?  No harm, just the total sacrifice of any and all personal privacy as well as the privacy of my friends, loved ones, work associates, and company of employment. 

Under the New Features section you have included the following information:

NEW: Record audio

Allows the app to record audio with the microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at ANY time without your confirmation.

Take pictures and videos

Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera.  This permission allows the app to use the camera at ANY time without your confirmation.”

Please explain to me the possible reason why you would need the app to have these capabilities.  And then, once you’ve done that, please explain to me how any of this mirrors the values of service, loyalty, honesty, and integrity which you supposedly stand for? It doesn’t!  You can tell yourself that it is not a violation of privacy because people are agreeing to use the app, and if that allows you to fall asleep at night so be it.  But I promise you that it IS a major violation of not only my privacy, but also my trust in a company that I have grown to respect and support for eleven years!

It disgusts me to know that you have positioned yourself in the niche market of supporting our military service men and women and their families.  So while they are literally dying to defend the American way of life, you are busy taking advantage of their trust and using it to spy on them. 

This is how the mighty fall!  Large corporations don’t collapse because they simply “wake up” one day and make one bad decision that ends it all.  Large corporations fail because they make little decisions each day that slowly and quietly compromise the very moral fiber that is the thread holding the corporation together.  Like a leaking roof it is one drip at a time. Drip, drip, drip, drip and before we know it, without even knowing why, the ceiling has collapsed.  Your roof, dear USAA, is leaking and I suggest you have it fixed before the ceiling collapses.   

Sincerely and disappointedly,

Erin Elise

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. girlseule
    Mar 12, 2014 @ 13:27:33

    That is just creepy. It should be illegal, they know full well people don’t read such things most of the time


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