I have spoken of Kim Komando (her real name) before; she is a digital expert. You can trust her without reservation. BTW, she’s known as a digital goddess.
Q. I have been thinking about signing up for LifeLock for quite a while, but a “little voice” kept telling me this just didn’t sound quite right. Now I know that my intuition was correct.
—Gary in Flint, MI, listening on WWCK 1570 AM
I heard about the FTC-LifeLock settlement. But I’m worried about identity theft. What is the alternative?
—JoAnn in Los Angeles, listening on podcast via Kim’s Club
LifeLock’s settlement was with the Federal Trade Commission and 35 state attorneys general. I never endorsed LifeLock because I didn’t believe its promises.
People who subscribed to LifeLock’s services could receive refunds. The Federal Trade Commission says it will contact eligible customers. It has more information at ftc.gov/lifelock. Or, costumers can call 202-326-3757.
According to the FCC, LifeLock’s protection “left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan added, “This agreement effectively prevents LifeLock from misrepresenting that its services offer absolute prevention against identity theft because there is unfortunately no foolproof way to avoid ID theft.
“Consumers can take definite steps to minimize the chances of having their personal information stolen, and this settlement will help them make more informed decisions about whether to enroll in ID theft protection services.”
Identity theft is an evolving problem. It has long been around, because of the use of Social Security numbers. With that number, a crook could open accounts in a victim’s name. The problem was exacerbated when credit cards spread in the 1960s and ’70s.
However, identity theft really exploded with the Internet. Suddenly criminals around the world had access to individuals’ confidential information. Banks were caught flat-footed as criminals opened new credit accounts. They spent the money and left the bills with the victims.
Over time, banks and other credit issuers have gotten much more vigilant. The FTC says that only 17 percent of cases in 2007 were new accounts. Criminals have moved on to other opportunities, primarily misuse of existing accounts. The FTC said LifeLock offered no protection against that.
Other LifeLock claims also were questioned by the FTC. In its press release, it said: “The FTC’s complaint further alleged that LifeLock also claimed that it would prevent unauthorized changes to customer’s address information, that it constantly monitored activity on customer credit reports, and that it would ensure that a customer would receive a telephone call from a potential creditor before a new account was opened. The FTC charged that those claims were false.”
LifeLock said in response that the FTC charges concerned old practices and products. It said they had been changed.
On top of everything else, the FTC said LifeLock was not protecting its customers’ data.
“The FTC charged that LifeLock’s data was not encrypted, and sensitive customer information was not shared only on a ‘need to know’ basis, its press release said. “In fact, the agency charged, the company’s data system was vulnerable and could have been exploited by those seeking access to customer information.”
Whew! That’s a lot to digest. But here’s the takeaway: Identity theft is a worldwide problem. Insiders at companies can sell your confidential information. Or, companies can toss it in the trash, where thieves find it. Once it lands on the Internet, anyone anywhere can use it.
So, what’s the alternative? I use ProtectMyID (www.protectmyid.com/kim), one of my advertisers and a company that I do endorse. It’s the service that I use, so that’s why I recommend it.
This product is sold by Experian, a large credit-reporting agency. Experian has decades of experience in the credit industry. I like that.
ProtectMyID does not guarantee a trouble-free credit life. It does promise to keep a close eye on your credit. It can do that because it’s in that business. And it promises to alert you if changes are made to your credit reports. It checks reports at all three agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
One of the growing areas of fraud is medical insurance. Criminals will use victims’ insurance numbers to get care. The victim is then billed for the coverage.
ProtectMyID watches sites used by criminals for insurance numbers. (It also watches for Social Security and credit card numbers.) It will keep customers informed if their numbers pop up. At least, insurance companies can block illegitimate claims.
If the worst happens, and your identity is stolen, you can turn to ProtectMyID. An agent will be assigned to you. You will be walked through the steps necessary to clear your name. They also include a service that helps you if your wallet is stolen.
Modern times have brought us wondrous technologies, especially the Internet. But criminals find a way to use those technologies, too. Avoid those who “guarantee” to protect you. You have to protect yourself. One of the keys is with a service like ProtectMyID.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have had their identities stolen. They all had one thing in common: They never thought it would happen to them. There’s so much data floating around about us online and offline. ProtectMyID is less than $10 per month.
The areas in bold lettering were highlighted by Maxi.
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full