I decide to jump on the offer by Sprint Relay for a new phone device since my trusty sidekick has breathed its death rattle.
If you are not familiar with this deal (which is all over DeafRead and whoever has the sprint-relay advertising), to receive the special offer you have to buy it through sprintrelay's store. The deal is a data-only plan for same price that T-mobile offers with rebates for a new phone (Joey Baer's sales pitch)... so if you browse Sprint's website, you won't see this deal. This process began to send up small red flags. Why couldn't Sprint offer it on their own website?
Maybe Sprint just wants to make it easier for their D/HH customers to find this data-only plans... whatever, the deal is so good that I am moving on...
I clicked, typed in your typical stuff, like credit card # and shipping address...
click-click-click, typetypetypedeletetypetype, click-click...
A red flag shot up the flagpole.
The form asked for my social security number, driver's license, its expiration date, which state issued... it is like filling out a form to get a loan!
The superficial reason which was sitting right above the question is that they wish to run a credit report on me and will need to investigate to deem whether a deposit needs to be made. They gave you options of how much they can take out of your account-- 200, 150, 100, 50 or "none"-- which the "none" follows a disclaimer stating if they found me ineligible, they will refuse to send me the phone device.
Is this normal?
Far as I remember, minor purchases like cell phones, they usually just want your credit card number.
But now, they want my SSN#?
What is going on???
So I shot off an email to Sprint (not sprint-relay, because they only list emails of local representative to order through... some average Joe that I really don't think can answer my email.) which you can read below (pardon grammar errors, typos, whatever ):
Skeptical Business Conduct
I am very skeptical that one of your sub-business known as "Sprint Relay" which operates a store as well offering data-only plans for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing customers. They require driver's license and SSN... this is NOT normal for a cell phone business to ask.
Maybe I am behind in the cell-phone world, but I feel that if you are asking very personal information that are IRREVELANT to buy something minor like a cell phone (before you know, we will be require to give out our SSN to buy a dress!)... I believe a bussiness like you and your sub-business like SprintRelay need to state what will you DO after you did the credit check. Will you store those highly-confident information on your database? Will you erase them and begone with it after a positive credit report? You need to assure your customers' trust that you won't risk the possibilty of third-party receiving their SSN and other confident information. It took me 30 minutes to debate with myself and ask my friends around to inquire if this is violation of my privacy rights, and whether this is a normal and revelant question? I believe those highly-confident information such as my SSN and driver's license number to see my credit reports should be left up with credit card companies who will actually pay you since the customers will charge with the cards from various credit cards companies.
The reason I am very ambivalent and resistant to release my SSN and driver's license to a corporation like Sprint Relay is because... WHAT WILL THEY DO TO ENSURE MY PRIVACY? I looked throughout their websites (included sprintrelay's) and nothing is stated. Will they erase my confident information once I passed their credit report check? Will they keep mine in their database FOREVER? Will they SELL my SSN to a third-party company?
Is there limitations to whom we can refuse to release our SSN# to? I understand for a new credit card, for a job, or whatnot... but... to a CELL PHONE COMPANY?