Dr. Audri Lanford interviews Todd Davis: Internet ScamBusters #273
UPDATED - The LifeLock FTC Settlement
LifeLock settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission. Here is our position on these events.
Today we have a special -- and very timely -- issue for you about what you can do right now to help change consumer laws related to identity theft.
Audri interviewed Todd David, CEO of LifeLock, on Saturday as he was midway through a grass roots tour that will last two weeks and cover 15 cities and 6,600 miles. It's called "Strike Back -- Defeat Identity Theft Now."
As you'll see, Todd presents some fascinating information about identity theft, and how consumers can have a voice in changing the laws related to identity theft.
Let's get started...
What Can YOU Do to Prevent Identity Theft? How You Can Make a Difference
Audri: Hi Todd and welcome. I appreciate your taking the time during your grass roots tour to educate people about what they can do to help prevent identity theft to talk with us today.
Todd: It's a pleasure to be here with you. Let's go...
Audri: Today we are NOT going to talk about LifeLock's services for preventing and dealing with identity theft; subscribers who are interested in LifeLock can check out our previous interview on how LifeLock helps you prevent identity theft.
Instead, we'll focus on your tour, Strike Back -- Defeat Identity Theft Now, and what it means to consumers.
However, before we begin, I do need to ask you about the lawsuit Experian filed against LifeLock since we've had SO many questions about it from our subscribers.
Todd: I would tell you first that we weren't surprised that one of the credit bureaus would bring a lawsuit against us. We knew as we started -- changing the way the system works, challenging the traditional ways that the credit bureaus sell credit monitoring and handling our data and selling it without any kind of control or say on people's part -- that we expected some kind of challenge.
We have been prepared for this well before Goldman Sachs ever made an investment in LifeLock.
For those who don't know, the suit alleges, among other things, that LifeLock has committed fraud by failing to disclose that consumers can place fraud alerts for themselves for free, and that the federal credit laws do not provide for a third party to place fraud alerts on behalf of consumers.
As you already know, LifeLock has always made it clear you can perform fraud alert services yourself, just as you can do your own taxes or wash your own car. We also believe the Fair Credit Reporting Act permits the service LifeLock provides.
We looked at the possibility of this type of lawsuit happening and we feel very strongly in our arguments, very secure in our position.
I would tell you that we are even open to working with Experian to resolve this. If they want to maintain the spirit of the law under FACTA, which is to protect consumers, we are open to being able to find a way to protect consumers and even work together.
LifeLock has always supported the intent and spirit of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
However, if Experian chooses not to do this, then I believe Goliath has met their David. We will vigorously defend ourselves and, in so doing, defend consumers' rights to protect themselves from identity theft. We are confident we will be vindicated in court, and that this lawsuit won't disrupt our operations.
In fact, since the lawsuit has been filed and has brought attention to the difference between Experian and LifeLock, we have actually seen the average number of members we have on any given day go up.
We have experienced an excellent groundswell of support about what we are doing from consumers and our partners nationwide, and they are telling us to go fight that good fight.
After all, a lawsuit brings a spotlight on a company. It requires some transparency. You have to address what you do and how you do business. The reality is when people look in detail at what we do and how we conduct ourselves, we get more support.
Audri: OK, now let's focus on the tour. It's called "Strike Back -- Defeat Identity Theft Now." As we speak, you're about halfway through the tour, but this will be published almost at the end.
Can you tell our subscribers its purpose, why you are personally doing this, and why they should be interested?
Todd: Sure. It supports our mission and vision of the company, which is to prevent all identity theft. More specifically, the reason is to educate people about the dangers of ID theft and get a petition signed that we will deliver to Washington on March 6, telling Congress that more needs to be done across the board to penalize those who deal in this crime.
To do this, there are two steps we know need to happen:
1. We need to educate people. We need them to understand what their rights are as consumers and what they can do to protect themselves.
Whether they do this themselves or through a service like a LifeLock, we are going to make sure they know all their options.
2. We need to make sure Congress hears consumers with one mighty voice; their concerns, fears and demands.
We are tired of the fact that identity theft is the fastest growing crime and that people are living in fear and looking over their shoulder.
There's no significant penalty when criminals are convicted of identity theft. We know only 1 in 700 are even convicted, so that's not much of a deterrent.
We want to see stronger laws and more controls over who has our data and who can sell it.
We want to see stronger penalties when criminals are caught. We want to see better guidelines beforehand on how companies guard the privacy of our personal data, as well as standard operating procedures for notifying people in the event that the information has been stolen.
Audri: Very interesting. Since you're about a week into the tour, how has it been going so far?
Todd: It's going great. We have over 13,000 signatures online for the petition to Congress, as well as over 1,000 plus in hard petitions. We are seeing a huge groundswell of support.
We targeted a fairly aggressive goal of 20,000 signatures, which is twice the number needed to get Congress' attention, but we are actually on track to hit those numbers.
Audri: That will be tomorrow (when people read this interview). So what feedback are you hearing from people?
Todd: There are three different things we are hearing:
1. We hear people saying "thank you for letting me know what I can do. I have lived in fear and have heard the horror stories." They are so appreciative knowing there is something they can do, again whether it is with LifeLock or on their own. That they can do something to protect themselves and not be a victim.
2. We hear "go get those Experian guys. They don't take care of us and they are selling our data. They are just concerned about their profits." So we are getting great support.
3. We are hearing "thank you for carrying this message. We don't know how to do it; it didn't feel like we had a voice; we didn't feel like we could affect change, but you have given us a vehicle to make a difference." People have been very appreciative of that.
Audri: What is the most interesting story you have heard so far on the tour?
Todd: We heard from a veteran, a Mr. Dubois. He talked about what happened after his retirement in 1995 when his identity was stolen, and how he spent the next three years of his life trying to resolve it. It was very moving to hear the pain and suffering in his voice, how hard it really was -- especially back then.
For him to come out and be an advocate for what we are doing was one of the most rewarding moments, because it put it all in perspective -- how bad this crime really is -- and that there is finally someone out there carrying the message.
Audri: Is it these kinds of stories and moments that make it worthwhile?
Todd: Absolutely. I am the luckiest guy. To be out here doing social good, not only fighting this crime but helping good people, giving them peace of mind and supporting them and their schools and education, that is what this is all about.
Audri: What impact do you hope the tour has on consumers?
Todd: I really think we have a chance to create the first wave of the ripple effect of education.
I think the effect of the tour is there are thousands of people that we will touch and educate about this crime and what they can do about it.
As they each touch a couple of people, the next thing you know we have started a revolution. We've created a situation where people finally say "I am tired of being a victim"; "I am tired of companies selling my information"; and "I am tired of living in fear."
We believe we can stop this epidemic and it will be in this ripple effect until finally this crime is no longer the fastest growing crime.
Audri: What impact do you hope the tour has on ID theft?
Todd: I believe that in two years, identity theft will start to plateau. We are going to turn the corner and the number of victims will start coming down.
With the laws we're proposing, criminals will figure out that the information isn't as valuable, there are more consequences of getting caught, and they aren't going to risk as much to steal it. It is a matter of supply and demand. When there is not much demand, then they won't need to go out and steal the supply.
We want to see more dollars going to law enforcement. All this is how we are going to solve this crime.
Audri: Overall, what has impressed you the most while on the tour?
Todd: I would really say the theme of the event. We have gone from bluegrass festivals to senior living centers to universities to law enforcement and government officials. The receptive nature of everyone has been unanimous. The energy just continues to build and gives us the momentum to take a tidal wave into D.C.
Audri: When you go to Washington, D.C. on March 6, what will happen?
Todd: We are going to meet both Republican and Democrat members of Congress individually so we can make sure the representatives themselves and their staffers truly understand the message and the details. We want to be able to address their questions so they can begin crafting legislation.
The great news is I think we will have very receptive audiences. We have been working for years with some of these legislators from both sides of the aisle who lead the charge against identity theft in Washington D.C.
We are going to tell them that some of the current laws (like the FACTA and Fair Credit Reporting Act) are good laws -- they just needed enforcement and education.
I believe they want help to start crafting verbiage to clarify laws and create new laws. We are going to look for opportunities for bills that truly effect change.
I actually think, as we walk through it, their staffers will receive action items to go do specific things. Again, this will have representatives from both sides of the aisle to come together for one common goal, and that is when we will effect change.
Audri: Obviously this doesn't happen overnight. What timeframe do you think we will see changes happen?
Todd: I think we will see some legislation this year, which is moving pretty fast.
Now, that won't stop the crime of identity theft. These laws and clarifications will support the existing efforts that are already going on.
So, from our perspective, the fastest way to stop the crime is to educate people and start at a grassroots level.
However, better defined laws, additional laws, and stronger penalties as a deterrent will all help accelerate that process.
These laws will not be the catalyst. The catalyst will be the people at the grassroots level. These laws will provide a support function, and we believe we will see pieces of that this year and ongoing in the future.
Audri: Our time is up, Todd. I'd like to thank you and wish you all success with your efforts to increase awareness of the problem of identity theft. Educating people about this crime is certainly a mission we share.
And I appreciate your giving our subscribers a medium to help their voices be heard with your petition and your meetings with members of Congress.
Finally, for our subscribers: if you'd like to find lots of great resources so you can educate yourself about identity theft, visit our Identity Theft Information Center.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!