Now you can effectively prevent identity theft with this easy to use, fast service: Internet ScamBusters #220
Today's Special Issue is one of our most important. It answers one of the most common questions we are asked: Is there a way to effectively prevent identity theft?
We've recently had an avalanche of subscribers ask us about how to prevent identity theft. The news that billionaire Donald Trump's Social Security number was among those made public on the New York Department of State's website earlier this month, as well as news that another 1.3 million Social Security numbers on a Department of Veterans Affairs hard drive are missing, probably contributed to the growing awareness for the need to be proactive about preventing identity theft.
So, today we're excited to do two things:
1. Announce the creation of the new ScamBusters.org Identity Theft Information Center on our site. You'll find lots of excellent information on identity theft here: chilling identity theft facts, how to prevent identity theft and how to recover if you do become an identity theft victim.
Our goal is to make the ScamBusters.org Identity Theft Information Center one of the most useful identity theft resources on the Internet. We've got a few dozen more articles we'll be adding over the next month or two, so check it out now and visit periodically for updates.
2. Today's Special Issue is about how to effectively PREVENT identity theft, not simply monitor whether it has occurred so you can act swiftly to minimize the damage.
We've never before been able to recommend anything that effectively helps you prevent identity theft that doesn't take a lot of your time. Finding out about identity theft quickly after-the-fact is vital, but it doesn't reduce the fear of having to deal with the consequences.
So today, we're excited to let you know about a service we are now personally using to proactively prevent identity theft. It is incredibly easy to use and fast, and we believe it is certainly worth the investment.
To tell you about this new service, Audri interviewed the CEO of the company offering this service. The result is the article below called "How to Proactively Prevent Identity Theft: An Interview With LifeLock CEO Todd Davis."
Time to get going...
UPDATED - The LifeLock FTC Settlement
LifeLock settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission. Here is our position on these events.
How to Proactively Prevent Identity Theft: An Interview With LifeLock CEO Todd Davis
Audri: Hi Todd, and welcome! I'm very excited to be doing this interview with you today. Could you start by telling our subscribers a little about your background? How did you get into this? How long has your service been available?
Todd: Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to visit about LifeLock and the problem of Identity Theft.
I grew up in the Dallas area, graduated from Baylor University and worked around marketing or sales my entire career. When I was with Dell, I was honored as one of the bright stars, but to be honest, I just took a great product, learned from the best and was lucky.
I started my own company (Marketing Champions) and focused on creating opportunities for others. I worked with teams from NASCAR and the IRL (Indy Racing League).
I came to LifeLock through an associate I worked with at Marketing Champions. We had a meeting with Robert Maynard, who had a product that could stop ID Theft, but they weren't sure how to advance it.
We met several times and before long, Robert asked me to be CEO. We became partners and now lead the most successful ID Theft prevention company in the U.S. today.
Audri: Can you briefly describe your service to our subscribers?
Todd: Basically our service makes personal information useless to anyone but the rightful owner. It's that simple and to show that we mean what we say, we completely support our claims with a $1 million guarantee.
Audri: We'll come back to your guarantee in a few minutes. But first, I have to ask you about the fact that you prominently publish your Social Security number on your website. Wow! That is very unusual. I certainly don't mean to offend you but I have to ask this: this really IS your Social Security number, right?
Todd: Of course it's my Social Security number.
The first thing that people need to know about our company is that we always do what is right. We won't say one thing and then do another. I have had many people say that I'm making the number up, but it's the real deal. Matter of fact, here it is ... 457-55-5462.
We do this to prove the point that your personal information is everywhere right now, but if you make it useless, it doesn't matter who has it because they can't use it.
Audri: There is no question that people's Social Security numbers are everywhere - the news about Donald Trump's Social Security number being made public earlier this month was a very newsworthy example of something that happens every day. Nonetheless, what made you decide to take this VERY bold step?
Todd: We were doing a live interview about a year ago and just before going on, I asked Robert what would happen if I gave my Social Security number out during the interview.
His response was that my phone might ring more and my credit would get dinged, but other than that, nothing (because I'm protected by LifeLock).
So when the time came, I told the interviewer ... "to show how confident I am about what we do, here is my Social Security number" ... I can still remember hearing the producer in my ear piece screaming when he heard the numbers.
Since then, there have been plenty of surprised reporters, but we challenge them to ask the CEOs of other companies to do the same. So far, I haven't seen a single one ... have you?
Audri: No, I haven't. I confess that seeing you publish your Social Security number is what got my attention. 😉
It also made me realize how fearful most people are of having their identities stolen -- and rightfully so! The idea that you might NOT have to worry so much about identity theft is quite appealing.
Todd: We are trying to educate consumers that your information is everywhere right now, so giving it out isn't that much of a stretch.
We don't recommend anyone doing this, but it brings out the point that we all have information floating around on public websites, at the offices of doctors and dentists, and just about anyplace you shop or live.
Once you come to grips with this, you need to go make the information useless, whether you do it yourself or let LifeLock do it for you.
Audri: I've read that you say your system is proactive, not reactive. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Todd: We take the proactive steps to make your personal information useless, meaning that we do this before anyone has already taken advantage of your name, Social Security number or date of birth.
Being reactionary would be taking care of things after someone has already used the information.
Credit monitoring would be a perfect example of a reactionary service. It may help fix problems after someone has begun using the information, but does nothing to stop it before they use it.
Audri: That makes sense. Let's now come back and talk about your guarantee. Again, it's quite bold. Can you briefly explain it?
Todd: We are proud of our guarantee, because again, it's something that shows how strong we feel about our system.
Simply our guarantee says that if you are a LifeLock client and you become a victim of ID Theft or Fraud, we will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to fix the problem.
Our guarantee is good up to $1 million and goes for any problem, even if you are wrongly arrested (which has happened).
Audri: In addition to paying for losses, in the event of your clients' identities being stolen, how much time would be required from them to fix the problem, and how much would your company do?
Todd: We would do it all.
Todd: Anyone that really follows this crime will tell you that the biggest problem is the time spent and frustration felt by trying to get this under control.
The Federal Trade Commission says it takes anywhere between 170-300 hours to fix problems from this crime and the majority of this time on the phone during the day.
This brings another problem into focus -- time taken away from work. Many organizations are beginning to see our service as a way to stop employees from having to take time off or deal with problems while at work.
Audri: I can see that. I think a lot of people (myself included) are even more concerned with the time they'd have to spend dealing with the problem of becoming an identity theft victim -- that's even worse than the money. So, that part of your guarantee is a huge relief, I'm sure, to your clients.
Who should consider using your services?
Todd: Anyone who has a Social Security number is at risk, including children.
Right now the fastest growing segment of this crime is children under 18 years old.
Most parents don't think about protecting their children. However, we have seen numerous cases where a child's Social Security number has been used to open accounts, gain employment and take out loans.
The criminals that specialize in this crime know that if they get hold of a young child's Social Security number, they can use it for years without getting caught.
Audri: Yes, we did an article recently that included information on children's identity theft. I think it really surprised our subscribers what a huge problem this can be for kids.
Changing gears a bit: what would you say is the #1 biggest advantage of your service?
Todd: As a LifeLock client, you will NEVER have to fear ID Theft.
Audri: And how much does your service cost?
Todd: Our service is $10 a month or $110 a year for adults, and $25 a year ($2.50 a month) for children 16 and under.
Another question: People can do a lot of this themselves without paying a fee. Why should they consider using your services instead of just doing it themselves?
Todd: You are absolutely correct, everyone can take the same steps to make your information useless and limit other potential risk points. We tell everyone you can do this yourself.
However, LifeLock provides the convenience, expertise and support needed to be 100% protected.
Fraud alerts, which are the backbone of our system, need to be renewed every 90 days and still have a tendency to fail if companies won't honor them. With LifeLock doing the work, we reset these every 70 days and have the guarantee in place should a company fail to do what is required.
Audri: Should people still use a credit monitoring system like Equifax's if they use your service?
Todd: If someone is just interested in knowing when their information is being used, then credit monitoring is perfect for them.
If you are interested in having something in place that prevents the use of personal information, then I wouldn't recommend that kind of service.
You need to remember that credit bureaus are not interested in protecting your data or even if the data is right. They make their money by selling your data.
Audri: Can you tell our subscribers: what percentage of your clients have had their identities stolen?
Todd: If you are talking about problems before coming to LifeLock, we really don't know unless someone was to tell us. I know we have some.
If you are talking about how many have had problems since becoming clients, then we have had two (in more than 50,000 clients), but neither was a case where our system didn't work. They were cases of the financial institution failing to honor the fraud alerts, but our guarantee took care of all the issues.
If you compare our numbers to the national average (1 in every 200 people are victims), it becomes very clear that our system is very effective.
Audri: That is truly impressive.
Before we wrap up, what is the one thing you'd most like our subscribers to remember from this interview?
Todd: The only way to prevent ID theft is by making the information useless to anyone but you. Whether you do this yourself or have LifeLock in place, you need to take the steps as soon as possible.
Since January 2005, more than 110 million people have received letters stating their information had been lost or stolen. Just this year alone, more than 44 million have been affected by lost or stolen data. Make the information useless so you won't need to worry when a letter arrives for you.
Audri: Great advice. Thanks so much, Todd. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me today about how to proactively prevent identity theft.
That's a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!
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By Audri and Jim Lanford
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