If it looks too good to be true…

13 Jun

You can’t pick up a paper, or pop onto the ‘Net for a minute without getting barraged by all the doom and gloom that Identity Theft has brought to our lives. So, with nothing to do but wait for my son’s next bottle to pop out of the Microwave, I started thinking about the problem of identity theft and I came to the grim realization that our government (gasp! I used the “G” word!) should be doing more about this crap. Now, I know this sounds strange coming from me, because most of you know that I’m a fierce proponent of giving the government the finger whenever they attempt to “save us” by injecting their continued insanity and illogic into our daily lives.

But… as a victim of Identity Theft myself (and after five years it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time…) I almost flinch every time I hear that “LIFELOCK” commercial on TV. You know the one, where the guy who runs it plasters his Social Security Number on a mobile billboard and all but dares you to take a stab at screwing up his life forever…

He’s become famous, because identity theft has become an economy unto itself. If all businesses survive on “supply and demand, it looks like Identity Theft is gonna be the next issuer of an IPO. It sure has “demand,” as the thieves and miscreants use the stolen information for their own financial gain, and the “supply,” is obviously all the stolen IDs. In fact, if you venture out on the Internet, you’ll be exposed to all kinds of opportunities to do in your fellow man, via a whole sales process of selling phishing kits, IDs, skimmers, etc.

And they’re gonna be around for a while, folks. Think of all the places that keep track of your personal information… Your life has become a digital minefield. A close look will reveal that your “identity safety net” has about a thousand holes in it, that any competent bad guy can get thru, to pillage your persona.

Records can easily be found at your banks, your employers, your cell phone providers, your local cable company, your apartment complex, the government, your doctor’s office, and the list goes on and on.

And that’s not the end of it. Think of all the places you visit on a daily basis, places where you scan your information to be stored, like the ATM, or the corner grocery store, for instance. All of these data warehouses are potential places where your data could be stolen from. The attacks are well known these days, phishing, web application compromise, skimming, etc. It’s not safe to leave the house anymore! I’m starting to miss the days of bartering chickens and goats for gasoline! LOL!

So, having to choke on that heartburn enchilada, I had to laugh when I read today that the guy who runs LIFELOCK got spanked. It seems that Todd Davis got HIS identity stolen. It’s not like he was asking for it. He didn’t plaster his vital information all over the internet, the media, and print ads, for anyone to see… Oh wait, yes he did…

Here’s an excerpt ftrom the report;

According to LIFELOCK spokesman Mike Prusinski, someone used the CEO’s Social Security number — which is prominently displayed in advertisements for LIFELOCK’s identity theft protection commercials and on its web site– at a Ft. Worth check cashing operation to obtain a $500 loan.

“They had Todd’s Social Security number, name, and his wife’s cell phone number,” Prusinski said last week.

Davis discovered the identity theft crime only after the check-cashing company called his wife about the unpaid loan. Davis couldn’t offer any details about the crime this morning (including the name of the check-cashing company) but Prusinski said last week that the thief was able to obtain the loan because the check-cashing operation didn’t run a credit-report check on the Social Security number before giving out the loan (which would have revealed a fraud alert on the reports) and that, as a result, there was no way that LIFELOCK could have prevented the theft. LIFELOCK helps customers place fraud alerts with the three credit-reporting agencies to prevent thieves from opening new accounts in its customers’ names. It also helps customers fix credit problems if they do become victims of identity theft. But Prusinski says there’s no way to prevent all identity theft — especially in cases in which a business (such as the check-cashing operation) doesn’t run a credit report before providing someone with a loan or new credit card.

“It’s a loophole,” Prusinksi said. “We tell people that you can’t stop every form of identity theft.”

(End of excerpt) 

I’m still laughing (I’m laughing with you, Todd, not at you…) when I think about it. I’m not alone in the world, Todd Davis (CEO of LIFELOCK) has joined the club with me, and has had his identity stolen. I feel for the poor guy, after all, he bet his business reputation and his public life on the fact that his company could protect ANYONE from all forms of identity theft, but the harsh reality is it didn’t.

And, it’s not like he’s denying it;

“There’s nothing to indicate my identity has been successfully compromised other than the one instance.”

Okay, other than the one instance, that is, but it was just that once. Uh-huh.

Part of the problem here is that people don’t realize just how big a jungle it is out there, and how many different animals intent on eating your identity are actually looming in the darkness.

Oh sure, LIFELOCK pledges that they’ll pony up a cool million dollars in your defense, but the problem is with the $1,000,000 protection they offer up, which unfortunately has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of thing that Todd got stung by. It doesn’t have anything to do with the most prevalent type of ID theft used lately, technology breakdowns in the system – which is a far less likely occurrence, that LIFELOCK can’t possibly protect you from.

LIFELOCK screams it from the rooftops, loud and proud;

“Our service guarantee is simple, but it is limited. We will pay up to $1,000,000 to cure the failure or defect in our service…”

I’m not sure that’s gonna help ME much, if I get phished… And it’s not just that… their site is pretty deceptive. They lead you to believe that they’re Serpico looking for felons in the alleys, protecting you while you sleep.

What this actually means is that if LIFELOCK doesn’t stop the intrusion, they fix it at their expense up to $1,000,000.

Sooo, campers… it appears that what LIFELOCK doesn’t stop, you are flapping from the handlebars to wrestle with, all by your onesies… And that’s the part that sucks. I actually signed up with Todd, and all I’ve gotten so far is letters from the Credit Bureaus telling me that they can’t provide me with copies of my credit report, for “security reasons.” I reported this to LIFELOCK and asked them to terminate my membership, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to hit my credit card for the monthly fees, anyway. I’m still wondering when they’re gonna get that sorted out.

And, the saddest part is that I was pulling for the guy. Todd had me thinking that the day had gotten brighter, and there was a new dawn approaching, one where I was able to sleep nights, safe in the knowledge that Todd and his Cyber Ninjas were fighting the good fight, watching my back while I slept.

It’s really too bad, because I wished this company was exactly what it claimed to be, and not just another money-making venture that preys on the “mongering of fear.” There are literally millions of people who could actually benefit tremendously from it.

I guess Todd will have to rethink his marketing a bit, huh?



One Response to “If it looks too good to be true…”

  1. Catherine June 18, 2008 at 12:06 am #

    Here’s something Todd Davis isn’t recognizing. Tis newest type of theft can completely circumvent ANY of their services.

    I want to share with you the latest about wireless ID theft. Most folks haven’t heard about the newest type of high tech ID theft….called wireless skimming, RFID phishing, or wireless pickpockets who steal from the RF tagged cards people carry. Most people don’t know their debit and credit cards, door access cards, employee badges and the new REAL ID drivers’ licenses all have RF tags in them. These radio-frequency tags can be activated remotely with an antenna, and the information kept on those cards can then be captured cloned and stolen.

    We’ve been on the TV news three times since we launched in Dec 2007.

    Please see our commercial…

    Your article is well written and quite poignant! Thank you for sharing.

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