Dear Maj. Gen. Josue Robles Jr.,


I have been a member of USAA  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 or 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  So when I received a notice on my phone that there was a newer version of the USAA Mobile App for me to download, I almost clicked on it without thinking twice, because why would I? You have proven to me that you demonstrate service,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  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 your have it fixed before the ceiling collapses.  


Sincerely and disappointedly,


Erin Elise


Dear Erin,

I have been an IOS APP developer for sometime now and assure that Apple controls these features of IOS APP interaction with your device and your privacy is not in jeopardy...unless your using an Andriod that case yes it is open sourced so there is zero privacy from 3rd party control. We'll written post but you have to much time one your hands.


It is an Andriod.  Is your suggestion then that it is an issue with the phone itself and not the app? 

Matthew, open source is generally more secure. Also, remember that IOS is built on open source :). I don't know how Apple handles permisssions for apps, but with Android the application requests certain permissions. Here is a nice page on what permissions a particular app requests and why. Never heard of glympse and don't want an app that broadcasts my location :), but if I did that page gives me some confidence in general cluefulness at glympse. Hans
Dear Erin, apps always require updates that include bug fixes, additional features that were requested and approved by a change review board. I guess I'm unclear how you are comparing app features to the values of a Maj General? Shouldn't this be directed to a director of information? With all that you've turned claims in on I think you should be grateful USAA hasn't sent you on your way. As Mathew said you may have a little to much time on your hands! I would have phrased more along the lines of maybe you not a good fit for what USAA offers.


I'm not comparing the features of an app to the values of a Maj General, I'm addressing the Maj General as the CEO of the company that sponsors the app and the values of a company that sponsors the app.  I have been very grateful to USAA for providing the insurance coverage that I have paid for.  My concern is why they feel they need to have unlimited access to both my camera and my phone's audio recorder.  As far as having too much time on my hands?  Well, I consider it time well spent to question something that I don't believe is right.   

Yes Andriod is opened sourced and does not have a definite security over your personal data...all apps on Andriod are open and can see everything from your personal data to tracking your location...please only use a separate PC that is only dedicated to banking instead of your identify theft is on the rise and you do now have any virus protection on your phone. Hope that's not the phone but the operating system on it that puts you at risk.




That was not a very good response as it did not contribute the questions asked. He had valid concerns and questions. It is not Google's fault that USAA wants to for example record audio. USAA app most likely would not ask for this permission unless they are using it for some kind of feature and if this is the case what feature requires this?


It is usually not the operating system, but the apps and/or user when it comes to security concerns. Oh and yes you can get a firewall and antivirus for your phone. In other words why would you reply to a thread just to give wrong information?


Also Antivirus is not even required if the user knows what they are doing... Even for a PC...

Erin, USAA went through this when asking for access to the contact list. A new update was released that gave reasoning for the access. The update message also claimed the contact list would be used explicitly for one thing ( 800 FLOWERS ) and never for anything else. Unfortunately, the lesson was not learned. Anytime new permissions are requested the change message should indicate the change and why. In this particular case USAA needs to provide a version of the app that does NOT require the record audio permission. I do not need, nor want a voice interface for the USAA app. In fact, I explicitly do not want an interface that can be overheard. Hans