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Identity Monitoring Services

CSIdentity Protector Tri-Bureau

Only 25%  of identity theft can be detected by traditional credit report monitoring, which means that you need a more sophisticated service than the average offering (LifeLock). If you are time starved, convenience based or just simply want a comprehensive way to detect the inappropriate use of your data, you need to enlist an identity monitoring service. It’s similar to having someone monitor your home alarm system.

Here’s a bit of background. Traditional credit monitoring only detects a portion of identity theft. The remaining theft happens on non-credit loan activities (pay-day loans, etc), as part of public records (court cases, real estate transactions, government filings, etc.), over the internet (bought and sold on identity-for-sale sites), or in relation to medical or criminal records. It is important to monitor these forms of potential identity theft as well as your credit file. CSIdentity’s Protector Tri-Bureau product wins the award for Best-in-Class identity monitoring based on 7 criteria: Read more

Lifelock Pays the FTC $11 Million to Settle

The Federal Trade Commission and 35 state attorneys general filed a complaint against the company that “charged that the company used false claims to promote its identity theft protection services,” according to a March 9th FTC press release. LifeLock will be responsible for paying the FTC $11 million dollars as well as an additional $1 million to the 35 state attorneys general.

To clarify a couple of points that aren’t currently being covered by the media:

  1. LifeLock did make misleading claims about how completely their product protected individuals, but to their credit, they toned those claims down considerably starting about a year ago. In essence then, the ruling pertains to LifeLock of old, not the current company, marketing materials or product offering.
  2. At about the same time as they changed advertising, LifeLock began adding features to its product that bolstered the quality of its monitoring services.

If LifeLock continues to support and bolster the “engine” underneath its product (namely, the sophisticated identity monitoring services that it has already started adding), it will serve as a very worthwhile product in the identity monitoring space.

Here are a few of the charges in the FTC’s complaint that were in the press release:

  • The fraud alerts that LifeLock placed on customers’ credit files protected only against certain forms of identity theft and gave them no protection against the misuse of existing accounts, the most common type of identity theft.
  • LifeLock allegedly provided no protection against medical identity theft or employment identity theft, in which thieves use personal information to get medical care or apply for jobs.
  • LifeLock claimed that it would prevent unauthorized changes to customers’ address information, that it constantly monitored activity on customer credit reports, and that it would ensure that a customer always would receive a telephone call from a potential creditor before a new account was opened. The FTC charged that those claims were false.
  • LifeLock allegedly made claims about its own data security that were not true. According to the FTC, LifeLock routinely collected sensitive information from its customers, including their social security numbers and credit card numbers.
  • LifeLock’s data was not encrypted, and sensitive consumer information was not shared only on a “need to know” basis. In fact, the agency charged, the company’s data system was vulnerable and could have been exploited by those seeking access to customer information.

The $11 million that Lifelock is paying the FTC will be used to refund customers that were affected by these practices of Lifelock. Letters will be sent to current and former customers who might be eligible for financial refunds under this settlement. Any customers who think they may be involved in this settlement can recieve up to date information at  202-326-3757 and at Ftc.gov/lifelock.”

John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To bring John in for your next meeting or conference, please contact him directly on 1.800.258.8076.

LifeLock's New Identity (Theft Monitoring)

identity-monitoringLifeLock has been the victim of identity theft, and it will ultimately improve their product.

Over the weekend, LifeLock, the identity theft prevention marketing machine, lost a piece of who they are (were) when a judge stripped them of their most fundamental prevention tool — automatic fraud alerts on consumer credit reports. The net result is that LifeLock is having to strengthen it’s underlying identity theft monitoring architecture to fill the marketing hole, moving its product closer to superior identity surveillance services such as CSIdentity Protector.

I have never been the strongest supporter of LifeLock. Why? Because most every protection they offered out of the gate were steps you could take for yourself, for free. For example:

  1. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit files. (A stronger solution is to Freeze Your Credit with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.)
  2. Opt Out of financial junk mail.
  3. Get a copy of your Credit Report.

In addition, I disagree with their President, Todd Davis, and his constant publication of his Social Security Number for sensational marketing purposes. Mr. Davis is sending the wrong message to the average listener: that if you use LifeLock, your Social Security Number and identity are so safe that you can give them away to anyone. But Mr. Davis has been the victim of several cases of identity theft, not something he advertises on his traveling SSN van. No one solution solves identity theft. It takes a layered approach, much like the deadbolts, police forces, alarms, lights, dogs and neighborhood watch programs that protect our homes.

It is important to understand how LifeLock’s identity has changed. Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford ruled that LifeLock’s practice of placing fraud alerts on behalf of their customers constituted an unfair business practice. Basically, LifeLock utilized a free consumer fraud alert established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in order to alert retailers who touch our credit files to verify the person’s identity before extending them credit. It is a good thing to have a fraud alert on your credit file (not as good as Freezing, see above), because it makes it harder for an impostor to use your identity to fund their purchases. But Judge Guilford ruled that a corporation can’t place the alert on your behalf; we must only be able to place fraud alerts ourselves. I only hope that Judge Guilford doesn’t make us install our home alarm systems ourselves, because none of us will do that either.

LifeLock’s actions were not illegal, but considered to be anti-competitive (if everyone placed fraud alerts for their customers, we would all have fraud alerts on our credit files — actually, not such a bad idea to require proof of identity before extending credit). Over the weekend, LifeLock complied with the court order, ceased offering automatic fraud alerts for its customers, and unveiled new tools to detect identity theft in the earliest stage possible.

The strengthening of its core product with scientific modeling and data mining (which is what CSIdentity has offered for years) will ultimately make their customers safer, especially if their customers take a few minutes to place a fraud alert or credit freeze on their files for themselves. In fact, if they upgrade to a credit freeze, LifeLock customers will actually be safer than they were before the ruling.

To begin protecting your identity, follow these steps (in this order):

  1. Sign up for Identity Monitoring.
  2. Get your 3 free Annual Credit Reports, once every 3-4 months.
  3. Opt Out of financial junk mail.
  4. Freeze Your Credit.

John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To bring John in for your next meeting or conference, please contact him directly on 1.800.258.8076.

Eglin AFB Stumps the Identity Theft Expert

Military ImagesI just finished delivering an identity theft speech for the Department of Defense to the Airmen and Women of Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton, Florida. It is the highest honor for me to be able to serve the United States military, who so valiantly and humbly serve every American. Thank you Eglin AFB, and a special thanks to the person who asked me to clarify this question after the speech:

Is LifeLock identity theft monitoring service truly free to military personnel, or is it just for certain personnel? Read more