“I’m Todd Davis and what I’m about to tell is absolutely true. My social security number is 457-55-5462.”
We’ve all heard the latest commercials featuring the president of Life Lock – a company that claims to have the most advanced identity theft protection anywhere – shouting his personal data from the rooftops. It’s attention-getting marketing for sure.
But how can he really get away with divulging such information? Is he crazy? And is it really worth $120 per year? I decided to take a spin of the LifeLock.com website to learn what their business is all about. As it turns out, every preventive service they offer is relatively easy, convenient and readily available for consumers to do themselves.
LifeLock: First, we ask the credit bureaus to set fraud alerts on your behalf.
This can easily be done on your own with thirty minutes worth of phone calls. Taking it one step further, thirty-five states currently allow consumers to “freeze” their credit reports, effectively blocking all access to credit requests in their name.
LifeLock: Second, unless your circumstances change and you tell us not to, every 90 days or so we ask the credit bureaus to do it again.
That’s awfully nice of them, but this is completely unnecessary, especially if you’ve placed a freeze on your credit report.
LifeLock: Third, we request that your name be removed from pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists and we keep making the requests as they expire.
You can do this yourself in five minutes. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com and follow the simple instructions to opt-out for either five years or permanently. Since personally registering for the site over two years ago, the quantity of mail I receive has dropped by approximately 90%!
LifeLock: Fourth, we order your free credit reports on your behalf from the major credit bureaus and they are sent directly to you. We do this every year. You can also do this yourself for free.
Exactly, so why pay someone else to do it? Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for more info. That’s it.
LifeLock: Fifth, … if your wallet goes missing, just give us a call and a specialist will help you contact each credit card, bank or document issuing company, cancel your affected accounts and complete the paperwork and steps necessary to replace your lost documents.
The key is “help you”. For various legal reasons, it’s not possible for them to actually complete this paperwork on your behalf. The brunt of the work here will ultimately fall upon you, the consumer, no matter who you have helping you.
Finally, the crux of their business is their $1,000,000 guarantee which, to be fair, sounds like solid, fall-back security for their customers. But let’s be honest: if the credit bureaus fail to alert you in the case of fraud or credit is granted on your behalf in spite of your having frozen your credit report – and any of this results in identity theft – you’re going to have one hell of a civil case against a whole host of businesses. I’d argue that’s comfort enough, so save your $120 per year.
Update: Howdy, Get Rich Slowly readers!