Lifelock CEO Todd Davis Does Damage Control

LifeLock Ad: Todd Davis CEO

If you hadn’t heard, identity theft company LifeLock agreed to pay $12 million dollars to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission and 35 states. The FTC felt that LifeLock ads were deceptive and overstated the protection provided by the service.

Personally, I think the charges are valid and I had to chuckle a bit when I read this email from CEO Todd Davis sent out to his partners. Mr. Davis certainly has his public relations firm working overtime to write something like this.

Here’s the Message:

Take a read for yourself. I’ve got a few more comments below.

Important Message
From Todd Davis, LifeLock CEO

Dear Valued Partner:

As you know, because of LifeLock’s efforts since 2005, more Americans now know of the risks of identity theft, and more importantly, have taken steps to help protect themselves. I am proud LifeLock has had tremendous success in helping to protect consumers’ identities.

LifeLock first gained national attention through an innovative advertising campaign in which I published my real Social Security number. Our advertising campaign was created at a time when there were absolutely no guidelines in place that governed the identity theft protection industry. I published my Social Security number because of my confidence in LifeLock’s ability to proactively protect me and the knowledge that if my identity was misused, LifeLock would help fix the problem for me – as it would for any member.

Unfortunately, some regulators felt these early advertisements gave consumers a false sense of absolute confidence that they could never become victims of identity theft. As a result, LifeLock has agreed to a set of advertising standards that establishes, for the very first time, federal and state regulatory guidelines for the entire identity theft protection industry.

It is important to note that this agreement resulted from a review of practices from years past and has absolutely no impact on our current advertising, the LifeLock protection members currently receive through your valued partnership, or LifeLock’s role as the leader in identity theft protection.

In announcing the agreement, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz wished LifeLock well and expressly stated his conclusion that LifeLock now has a legitimate business model going forward with honest advertising. In fact, LifeLock has been in full compliance with the FTC agreement announced by Chairman Leibowitz for nearly a year.

LifeLock remains as financially strong as ever and is committed to our single-minded mission to help members protect their identities. As part of the FTC agreement, consumers who are not fully satisfied with the LifeLock® service due to its past advertising can request a refund through the FTC.

Significantly, we believe the FTC action explicitly recognizes that LifeLock is the leader in identity theft protection and provides real value to consumers. LifeLock helps reduce the risks of identity theft and will continue to educate consumers on the risks of identity theft. Further, you can rest assured that LifeLock has taken the strongest measures to protect members’ data, measures which are certified both as ISO 27001 and PCI-DCS Level 1 compliant – the highest standards for information data security.

We thank you for your partnership and your continued trust in LifeLock. As always, our number one priority is keeping members safe. If you have any further questions about your partnership, please contact your LifeLock Account Manager.

Sincerely,

Todd Davis

Todd Davis CEO

Our Comments…

They Have Updated Their Service. This is Good.

The current LifeLock service certainly appears to be better than their previous service – which was based mostly on placing fraud alerts (which you could do yourself for free), putting you on the credit opt-out list (which you could do yourself for free), and providing a million dollar guarantee. We applaud LifeLock for updating their service, though it appears getting sued (and losing) by Experian to stop placing fraud alerts probably factored into their planning.

“Innovative” Is Not a Word I Would Use for Publicizing Your CEO’s SSN

This sentence from the email absolutely drives me crazy:

LifeLock first gained national attention through an innovative advertising campaign in which I published my real Social Security number.

Their advertising was not innovative. It was stupid, irresponsible, and sent the wrong message to consumers about protecting their personal data. Calling it “innovative” doesn’t sound like Mr. Davis is too sorry about this completely wrong-headed advertising campaign.

Blame the Government

When you don’t want to take responsibility for your actions, most people like blaming someone else. Mr. David tries to blame the government for his company’s shortcomings:

Our advertising campaign was created at a time when there were absolutely no guidelines in place that governed the identity theft protection industry.

Common sense says plastering your CEO’s SSN all over magazines, newspapers, internet, television and radio is probably a bad idea if you’re serious about educating people on the dangers of identity theft. You don’t need “guidelines” from the FTC or anyone else to point that out. They wanted to create an attention-getting and “innovative” advertising campaign, and they did it. Please don’t blame the government when you’re told it was a bad idea.

Language Only a Politician Could Love

In the end,  I understand why LifeLock would send out something like this. They need to reassure partners that everything is fine and that none of this was their fault. It just upsets me when I read double-talk like this:

Unfortunately, some regulators felt these early advertisements gave consumers a false sense of absolute confidence that they could never become victims of identity theft.

Hmmm… where did those consumers get that false sense of absolute confidence? Maybe it was our “innovative” advertising? Nah, couldn’t be. It was those bad regulators who just don’t see the truth.

Bottom Line – Apologize and Be Forgiven

I don’t see an apology here. I’d feel better about LifeLock if they would apologize. What I see is more breast-beating and blaming. It’s too bad. LifeLock is the biggest identity theft service and they got there because of the millions of venture capital dollars they’ve spent on advertising and their “innovative” marketing. They could apologize without jeopardizing their #1 status, but I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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