The commercials have been all over radio; “protect yourself from identity theft with lifelock”. The CEO even gives out his social security number in the commercial in an expression of confidence in his product. But what service does Lifelock actually provide and who is behind that?
A while back I was trying to figure out what lifelock did and didn’t have any luck. Today, I see they have a four step process.
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit report. You can do this yourself for free. It expires every 90 days so they are saving you a bit of a hassle in renewing the fraud alert. The benefit of this is questionable since this does not actually stop new credit accounts from being opened in your name.
2. Adds your name and address to the Direct Mail Associations do not junk-mail list. This is something again that you can do for free, but you’ll have to renew every 5 years or so if I remember correctly.
3. Sends you your credit report once per year. This is something you can order cheaply, and you may be eligible for a free yearly copy anyway.
4. Pay for the associated costs if your identity is stolen and help you clean up the mess.
As I read some sites about Lifelock a couple of things became clear.
1. Lifelock uses an affiliate program so any positive reviews may be somewhat disingenuous.
2. You must give Lifelock limited power of attorney to file fraud alerts with the credit bureaus.
Since you’re giving Lifelock all your important info, they better be trustworthy people. According to the Phoenix New Times, Lifelock founder Robert Maynard may be a bit of a grifter. The article is quite enlightening.
Apparently, I’m a few weeks behind on news, because I just say thatthe Arizona Republic reported on June 13th that Maynard has resigned
Techcrunch puts on the tinfoil hat to worry that this organized hit was brokered by the credit bureaus. Really? That sounds like spin to me. Does it matter who the source is when the story used to sell lifelock is a lie? Its pretty ironic that a possible identity thief opens up a business on protecting people from identity theft. (or is that just like the grayhats in the infosec business).
Its pretty funny to watch the shills in the comments on each of these articles. Some people really believe in lifelock. Others are money making affiliates.
Kevin Mitnick once said something like, “a mother’s maiden name is not a password. A Social Security Number is not a PIN.” That is the basic problem. The credit system and even ACH transfers from your bank account act like its still safe to leave the doors unlocked at night. Lifelock really just puts a note on the door. You could put the note there for free. And there are still other windows and doors that need to be protected.
When I heard the commercials, I bought into the danger and the urgency. Now that I’ve looked into it, I think they are selling fear. When that happens, hold onto your wallet.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: » Lifelock and Menard - Roger's Information Security Blog

Comments are closed.