Identity Theft Protection Services Should Stand United in Fight against Fraud

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The Consumer Federation put out a press release last week alerting the media to their goal of creating a list of "Best Practices for Identity Theft Services".  They have put together a team of experts to develop a "working group" consisting of identity theft service providers and consumer advocates.
This could be great news!  At first glance, it appears we've made progress in two areas. One, advocacy groups have been calling for a list like this and it looks like someone was listening.  And two, it has always been my hope that those in the ID theft industry would stand united in an effort to fight against identity theft. This move by the Consumer Fed could be a sign of the unity I've been wishing for.

As they say, though, the devil is in the details.  As I read further, I grew more and more frustrated.  One obvious omission especially gave me pause. The compiled list of identity theft protection companies neglected to include the most well known name in the identity theft protection business: LifeLock.  Now, some might say I am raising this point because I endorse LifeLock and they are a paying sponsor of mine.  And I agree it would look that way--to people who do not know me personally or professionally.  To those victims, consumers, advocates and activists that do know me, they know my passion and the motives behind it.  They know that the concerns I'm raising--along with my voice and my blood pressure--are legitimate and have nothing to do with my sponsorship.
I'm frustrated that this working group continues to ignore the contributions of LifeLock and their partners at the National Organization of Victims Assistance NOVA and FBI LEEDA who, by the way, have been criss-crossing the country offering free identity theft education classes to consumers and law enforcement professionals.  Lifelock is committed to spreading education and awareness of the real problem: identity theft.  When I learned that no one even approached these groups to gauge their interest or input, I was left with the obvious question: Why?
It's well known that LifeLock had a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over their old business model and marketing campaign.  All of that is old news about even older services.  Could it be due to that?  I doubt it.  It can't be because Experian, one of the big three credit bureaus, (a.k.a. protectmyid and freecreditreport, consumerinfo) is one of the group members.

It's well known that there are plenty of consumer complaints and lawsuits levied against Experian for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  And it's equally well known that they've had their own problems and settlements with the FTC.  So that couldn't be the reason for LifeLock's exclusion.

Ironically, in my opinion, given the "web of confusion" created by Experian's once plentiful "free credit report" advertisements, this quote from an Experian spokesperson, seems a bit odd;    

"The emergence of various types of identity theft services has created a web of confusion for consumers, leaving them susceptible to deceptive and unfair marketing practices," said Jennifer Leuer, general manager of Experian's ProtectMyID. "Through this collaborative process we have created essential guidelines to help consumers understand what these services offer, and we're also asking other identity theft services companies to raise the bar for themselves and the industry as a whole."

If the goal is to instill "best practices" in the industry as a whole, then why exclude the biggest name in the business?  Heck, if the group questions LifeLock's motives and services, wouldn't it make sense to include their viewpoint from the beginning and get to the bottom of whatever mistrust might be going on?

I'm frustrated because there doesn't seem to be any clear answer as to why LifeLock and even NOVA and the FBI LEEDA organizations were not included in a group that shares their priorities: protecting consumers from and supporting victims of identity theft.
Over the years, the crime of identity theft has done nothing but increase.  Right along with it, LifeLock has introduced new and innovative ways to reduce the kinds of damage that can be done to consumers' credit and financial solvency by the crime of identity theft.  LifeLock was at the forefront of the ID theft consumer education movement before anyone else had given it much thought. 

As both a victim of identity theft and a victim advocate, I took the time to review LifeLock's services, partnerships and commitment to consumer education and protection, and I found them worthy of sharing their message.  I value their services and their ability to make advances in fighting identity theft.  I only wish that like-minded organizations and identity theft professionals would take the time to do the same kind of level-headed evaluation.  It's distressing to see disjointed messages caused by misinformation that is disseminated in a way that confuses consumers. 

I am perplexed at why a group tasked with compiling a standard for "best practices in identity theft protection services" wouldn't find LifeLock's participation logical, and key. Where's the unity?  What kind of message does this exclusion send out?  If the industry does not take a unified stand in promoting consumer protection ---how can we expect consumers to take the message or industry seriously? I have been an outspoken proponent of those in this industry who have focused on making consumer protection and education a top priority in fighting this crime. I do hope that identity theft protection professionals whether competitors or not, will eventually see the value in working together to fight the real problem and move beyond fighting those who are working hard to be part of the solution.
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The Identity Protection I know of is FREE, EASY and Reliable. The Identity Protection I'm talking about is the only Identity Protection recommended by Law Enforcement and the results are actually measureable.

NONE of these services including LifeLock can say that because none of them actually work, period.

Here are 3 things you need to know about the only Identity Protection the consumer is afforded by Federal Law.
1. Identity Protection does NOT protect your Identity from being stolen. Instead Identity Protection renders your Identity useless to Identity Criminals.
2. By law, Identity Protection is a Do-It-Yourself process.
3. makes the Identity Protection Process Easy, Reliable and Safe.

Good luck,
Chad Gammage

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