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Video: Thieves hit ID theft CEO

By
TODAY contributor
updated 5/23/2008 10:01:21 AM ET 2008-05-23T14:01:21

Todd Davis, CEO of an identity-theft protection service called LifeLock, kept putting his Social Security number in TV commercials and daring somebody to take it. So he shouldn’t have been surprised when an identity thief did just that.

But Davis says it just proves that his LifeLock identity protection service works.

“My Social Security number has been out there for two years,” the jovial exec told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Friday. “There’s been one instance where someone was successful in trying to turn my identity into money. There have been 87 other attempts to steal my identity, but the system works.”

But some of his customers disagree with that claim. Attorney Davis Paris has filed a class action lawsuit in Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey saying that Davis and LifeLock engage in false advertising by seeming to offer absolute protection against identity theft in their ubiquitous ads. Another lawsuit in Arizona alleges that his $1 million “service guarantee” is misleading and covers only defects in LifeLock services and not actual identity theft.

Another lawsuit has been filed against LifeLock by Experian, the credit-report company, alleging that Davis’ company deceives customers about the depth of its service. Experian claims LifeLock doesn’t give consumers any more protection for its $10 monthly fee than they can get for free on their own.

What does he guarantee?
Davis called the customer complaints “unfounded” and accused Experian of trying to protect its own practice of selling customer information.

He also said that his company does not guarantee that a customer’s identity won’t be stolen.

“No one can stop all identity theft. We say that on our Web site,” he told Lauer. “We even tell people some of the steps we do that they can do for free. But we also tell them they need to know their rights to put this front line of defense in place to minimize their risks.”

So what does he guarantee?

“What we guarantee is that if something happens, we’re going to do everything the law allows us to do to fix the problem for you,” Davis said.

LifeLock claims more than a million customers, and the class action lawsuit filed against the company is on behalf of four unhappy customers. Davis said that indicates that most of his customers are happy with the service provided.

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‘Jabba T. Hutt’
Lauer told Davis that TODAY researchers used readily accessible databases to find more than a dozen people who have applied for driver’s licenses using Davis’ Social Security number: 457-55-5462. Among them were people who gave their names as “Joe Blow” and “Jabba T. Hutt,” and one person who gave an address of “123 Fake Street.”

Davis countered that none of the people who applied for licenses actually got them.

“Those are attempts,” he told Lauer. “Those are some of the 87 people who tried to use my identity. The system worked exactly as it was supposed to. They were turned away. It proves it does work.”

Lauer asked Davis if his company actually offers services that consumers can’t get for free on their own.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Beyond the fraud alerts and opting out of preapproved credit cards, we are out there scanning over 10,000 Web sites where people buy and sell people’s personal information. We’re going to authenticate when someone puts in a change-of-address form for you, which is a great indication you’ve been victimized.”

He expressed confidence that LifeLock would prevail in court.

“We’re going to spearhead the change and prevent this crime from affecting so many people,” he said, speaking with the same enthusiasm he puts into his commercials.

At the end of the interview, Lauer had just one more question: “What’s your bank account number?”

Davis laughed and shot back, “I’ll give it to you later — as long as I can get yours, too, Matt.”

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