Thursday, February 28, 2008

Credit Bureau Alleges Lifelock Identity Theft Service is Fraud

Credit-reporting agency Experian has filed a lawsuit
against identity theft services company Lifelock,
charging it with "misleading advertising and fraud.

Additionally, Lifelock, allegedly placed fraud alerts
illegally on credit files maintained by Experian.

 Credit Bureau Alleges Lifelock Identity Theft Service is Fraud

Experian’s lawsuit claims that LifeLock is engaging
in deceptive and fraudulent behavior by adding
hundreds of thousands of fraud alerts every 90
days to Experian’s consumer credit database in
a manner that was not intended by Congress when
it implemented the federal Fair Credit Reporting
Act (FCRA).

The complaint alleges that corporations are
specifically prohibited from adding fraud
to consumer credit files and that LifeLock’s
service uses consumers’ free yearly allocation of credit
reports without adequate disclosure.

The heart of the Experian complaint and the media
counter attack from Lifelock is about money. While
Experian certainly has made some valid points in their
complaint, let's face it Lifelock's revenue stream comes
at the expense of the credit bureaus.

With over 700,000 members paying $10 monthly, according
to Lifelock, that's over $80 million in annual revenue. Now,
combine that with the $25 million in venture funding Lifelock
announced last month and - well you get the picture - especially
if you work at Experian. By the way, Experian markets their own
credit monitoring service as a means for consumers to protect
against identity theft.

How is the consumer's best interest being served in all of this
squabbling over which company is wrong or right?
What should
the average citizen do?

Well, let's take a closer look at Experian's complaint.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law
which provides several rights to protect consumers and
their credit information. While, we're not lawyers here,
Experian raises an interesting point against Lifelock's
business model if in fact they are illegally placing fraud
alert requests.

Furthermore, if the average citizen knew they could request a
fraud alert
themselves, thereby cutting out the middle man
(Lifelock), why would
there even be grounds for Experian's

While not taking sides, we can definitely inform our readers that
from a review of the Experian complaint, Lifelock appears to be
deriving revenue by taking advantage of the following services
which are free and/or can be directly ordered by any
armed with the proper contact information:

Junk Mail Restricted

On the next business day after our request:
You will be sent an email from us stating that
we have processed the request to remove
your name from Junk Mail lists. Not only is
junk mail annoying, statistics show it’s also
one of the most common ways thieves hijack
your identity.

Pre-approved credit offers blocked

You will be sent an email from us saying that
we've asked for you to be removed from
pre-approved credit offer lists. Like junk mail,
by blocking irritating offers, we also block one
of the avenues thieves use to steal your identity.

Credit bureaus contacted

Within 24 hours of our request:
You will receive an email from us stating that
fraud alerts have been requested on your behalf.
When fraud alerts are established with the major
credit bureaus, creditors are required to verify
your identity before opening any new lines of
credit, issuing new cards or increasing your credit limit.

LifeLock orders credit reports You will receive an
email from us stating that your credit reports have
been ordered on your behalf from the major credit
bureaus. Your reports will be sent directly to you.

What is a Fraud Alert?

Usually within an hour of your enrollment as
a member of LifeLock, we request alerts be
set on all of your credit reports at Equifax,
Experian and TransUnion. Within a week
or two after enrolling, these major credit
bureaus will send you credit reports showing
your alerts are in place.

So, our tip for today is two fold. Before considering
services from Lifelock, take a close look at what
you actually can get by directly engaging the

Junk Mail Restricted

DMA’s Mail Preference Service

Pre-Approved Credit Offers Restricted
1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)

Fraud Alerts Placed with Credit Bureaus

Free Credit Reports

Finally, as part of our second tip, make sure
to check out the rest of our website to find
the many other no or low cost options you
can leverage against would be identity thieves.

Remember, only a portion of all identity theft
cases are the result of someone getting
to your credit information.

Medical, criminal, & public information is more
accessible and vastly harder to detect abuses
against than a credit file.

So, make sure to also tell a friend about this
important new development in identity theft
prevention tips.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Identity Thief Top 10 List Suspect Caught

In Phoenix, AZ, a 24 year old woman was apprehended
for multiple counts of identity theft across three different

It seems, this woman committed her first act of
identity theft when she stole a purse from a woman's
car when she was dropping her child off at daycare.

Identity Thief Top 10 List Suspect Caught

According to a recent survey by Javelin Strategy,
33% of all identity theft cases which occurred
in 2007
were the result of a lost or stolen wallet,
checkbook, &
credit cards.

So, our tip for today, is to be on the guard against those
identity thieves who spot opportunities to steal your
valuable personal data when you are distracted.

Don't ever leave your purse, cellphone, etc. in
your car
without you being there as it only
takes minutes for a
desperate criminal to
make you their next victim.

But, identity theft will impact you with hundreds of hours
to clear your good name from the thousands of dollars of
financial damage an identity thief typically will cause.

Finally, be a good friend and tell your associates and relatives
about today's tip and just how quickly they can guard their
financial well being from dishonest identity thieves.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Identity Theft Greatest 2008 Threat From P2P File Sharing

While 2007 saw a record number of consumers negatively impacted,
2008 promises to continue with an abnormally high amount of data
breaches as identity thieves continue to adjust their tactics to match
evolving information security practices.

According to statistics published by the Identity Theft Resource
Center, Identity Theft Assistance Center & the SANS
Institute, popular P2P file sharing applications pose one of the
single most vulnerable internet security holes to be exploited
this year by identity thieves.

From a recent Help Net Security article on the topic, the
Associated Press reported that “more than 1 billion
searches are conducted daily over peer-to-peer systems.

A good number involved bank names, the word “password”
and other terms that appear to be attempts by would-be
thieves to dig up other people’s sensitive documents.”

Think this is just a warning only, think again as the
Help Net Security article pointed out how just 3 of the
top consumer data security breaches from 2007 were
attributed to file sharing applications:

November, 2007 - Thirty-five year old Seattle man
pleads guilty to using P2P file sharing programs to access
the computers of victims and steal their personal information
from tax returns, credit reports, bank statements and
student financial aid applications.

September, 2007 - Over 5,000 social security numbers
and other personal information on customers of
Citigroup’s ABN Amro Mortgage Group were
exposed over a P2P file sharing network. A
former business analyst joined a file sharing
network where people share music and video.
Work-related information that she had downloaded
onto her personal computer was inadvertently shared.

June, 2007 – Over 17,000 social security numbers of
current and former Pfizer employees were exposed
by a laptop owned by Pfizer and used by an employee.
The employee’s spouse used a P2P file sharing program
and inadvertently shared documents containing the
personal information.

So, our tip for today is directed to parents who let
their children utilize popular P2P file sharing applications
such as Limewire, etc.

You have two choices to protect yourself from inadvertent
identity theft exposure. First, you can simply delete the
P2P file sharing software from your hard drive and
sure your child does not have administrator
level rights
to reinstall it at some later date.

Or, secondly, you can backup any sensitive files to a
drive and then subsequently delete those
files off your
hard drive altogether.

Failure to do either of these two can result in your sensitive
personal information from being needlessly exposed to
identity thieves who could even by half way around the
world operating in some foreign country well beyond the
reach of our local law enforcement authorities.