“My name is Todd Davis and my social security number is 457-55-5462″. – CEO, LifeLock, Inc.
Who remembers these television, radio, billboard & bus-side ads?
LifeLock was founded in 2005, in Tempe, Arizona, by Davis and his partner Robert Maynard, Jr. According to their advertising, LifeLock is an “American identity theft protection company”, offering a “protection system that is intended to detect fraudulent applications for various credit and non-credit related services”.
They quickly partnered with several credit reporting agencies/banks (TransUnion, 1st Victoria Bank), major corporations (American Airlines, ID Analytics), and have several celebrity spokespersons (Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey & Rudy Giuliani). A true American success story at just the right time or yet another way to exploit public fears in the same vein as antivirus programs?
Identity theft is not a new issue. Years ago, in my previous life as a Police Officer, we would find people “dumpster diving” outside of hospitals, banks and any other businesses with access to our personal data, who hadn’t yet grasped the concept of “shredding” documents. Medical facilities were particularly popular due to the fact that, back then, almost every insurance provider used our social security numbers as membership identification.
As technology advanced, and the internet proliferated, criminals found an easier (and cleaner) way to score the information they needed to steal identities. And along came LifeLock and Mr. Davis, with his bold and blatant dare to criminals through the publicizing of his social security number.
Well, as Paul Harvey would say, “and now, the rest of the story”:
Within a very short time of the ads appearing, Davis, the co-founder and CEO of a company offering a $1,000,000 dollar guarantee against identity theft, had his identity stolen when some kid was able to secure a $500.00 loan using his information. Seems nothing will get your identity stolen faster than publicly throwing down a gauntlet to people proficient in the darker arts of computing.
But that’s not the only scandal associated with LifeLock.
- In June 2007, Maynard, the other co-founder, resigned from LifeLock after inconsistencies with his past came to roost. Maynard had always claimed that the idea for LifeLock came to him while serving time in jail in 2003. He said that he was imprisoned due to a $16,000 debt to a Las Vegas casino, which was the result of someone stealing his identity and running up the casino charges. Turns out he wasn’t a victim and video evidence showed he actually ripped the casino off. Additionally, it came to light that Maynard had previously stolen the identity of his own father, acquired an American Express card and fraudulently racked up over $150,000 in charges.
- In February 2008, Experian, a legitimate credit monitoring agency, sued LifeLock for false advertising and in a 2009 settlement, LifeLock was forced to alter their proprietary claims.
- In March 2010, LifeLock was fined $12 million by the FCC, for false and deceptive advertising concerning their 100% guarantee against identity theft.
- In December 2013, LifeLock acquired Lemon, a mobile wallet innovator, for over $42 million dollars. Shortly thereafter, they launched a mobile app designed and touted as a safe place to store your credit card, insurance, passwords and other personal information. The app was downloaded over 3.6 million times. But in May 2014, the app was pulled after it was determined to be “non-compliant with security standards”, the same standards clearly laid out in the aforementioned 2010 FCC action. LifeLock claims that they have deleted all user info acquired through the app.
And what of Mr. Davis and his claim to be “identity theft immune”?
According to the Phoenix New Times, which has written several scathing commentaries regarding LifeLock, and other news sources, Davis was the victim of identity theft a total of 13 times between the ads first appearing, and 2007 when they ceased, accounting for thousands of dollars in losses.
And so should you.