Salvation Army – No, Thanks

September 14, 2006 psipsina

Our HR department sent around a message today saying, “Lots of employees have asked what they can do to contribute to the Hurricane Katrina volunteer effort.  Here are a few suggestions.”

One of the suggestions was to sign up with the Salvation Army, which may be providing assistance to refugees at nearby Otis Air Force Base.

Now, get this:  to sign up to volunteer with the Salvation Army, you have to sign four separate forms.  One is an application form, on which you list any skills you might have that would be relevant.  Fine.  By signing the other three forms, you consent to a criminal background check, a sex offender background check, and a credit check.

I understand the motivation behind a criminal check and a sex offender check, even if I would not agree to sign the forms myself.*  But why does the Salvation Army think it needs to know the most recent balance on my American Express card or the one late payment I made on my student loan back in 1999 when I was moving and misplaced the bill?

Worse, the SA is asking potential volunteers to complete the forms so they can begin processing them while they wait to hear whether SA help will be needed.

In other words, the SA is proposing to poke around in my files – potentially for nothing.

Forget it – there are other charities that will take my time, or my money, without, in effect, rifling through my file drawers.

*I am reminded of a CNN special on privacy rights I saw a few weeks ago.  The interviewer was speaking with a man who signed up for one of those expedited security programs some airports are offering now, where they do a thorough background check, a retinal scan, an anal probe, and I don’t know what all else, and then you basically get waved through airport security each time you fly.  The guy said, “I don’t mind.  I have nothing to hide.”

I was alone in the room, but I still shouted at the TV.  You moron!  Everyone has something to hide!

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