I have an auto loan. No surprise there – many people take out loans to buy an automobile. And like most people, I can wistfully imagine the day when I no longer have an auto loan. I only hope my Toyota truck is still eager to cruise the back roads when that day arrives.
But let’s put this in reverse for a moment.
In order to get a loan I first needed to find a lender. Using a search engine named Google (you may have heard of it) I came across Capital One Auto Finance. Nice rates, easy to navigate website, familiar brand, chuckle-worthy TV commercials – I had found my lender.
Shift gears forward a couple years. I’m making headway on the loan, my payments are on time, everything’s running smoothly. And then one day, I log into my Capital One account, and there it is: Google Auto Loan.
What the hell? Google Auto Loan? Is that right?
But I thought Google was a search engine? Why would Google suddenly have dibs on my auto loan?
If Google now owns my auto loan, then it must have access to my Capital One account details, such as my social security number. Why does a search engine need to know my social security number? If someone searches for me on Google, will they get my social security number?
At this point, you may be sensing my sarcasm. But it’s not unfounded. My concerns are real.
Sure, Google probably entered into some kind of partnership that puts a little loan revenue in its back pocket. That’s to be expected from a multi-billion dollar corporation. But it’s this specific corporation’s bread and butter that punches my personal anxiety accelerator when I see “Google Auto Loan” on my online loan statement.
Surely there must be an explanation for letting Google ride shotgun on my loan. I search Capital One’s website. Nothing. I search Google, Yahoo, MSN. Nothing. So I call Capital One’s customer service number and after posing my questions to a very nice woman, I get put on hold.
When she comes back on the line, she responds with, “My system is updating and I can’t get that information at this time. Please feel free to call back.”
I feel like the air has gone out of my tires. I reluctantly pull off the information highway. I turn on my emergency flashers. Now I can only hope other people are stopping, and asking these questions.