Smear Campaigns Are Bound to Backfire

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Disclosure Update December 2013 This blog post no longer represents my current views or opinions relevant to LifeLock and / or the identity theft protection services industry. Due  to specific reasons relevant to Richardson vs. LifeLock litigation, I am unable to remove many blog posts that predate March, 2012 that specifically relate to my earlier beliefs and representations made relating to the value or reputation of those entities offering id theft protection services. 

In order to make informed decisions about identity theft protection, I encourage consumers to do their homework. You may want to review the views and suggestions offered by the Federal Trade Commission at and Consumer Reports. This disclosure is being made in response to website traffic appears to be driving consumers to blog posts that no longer represent my enlightened opinion~  

Every now and then there is a blog or news story that is so off base and straight-up wrong, it causes some people to pause, or shake their head, or in my case, write about it.   Last week a couple of blogs came to my attention after popping up on my news feed.

Though each had completely different topics, in my view, they had one disturbing, yet clear message--one that should serve as a reminder to all of us: it's important to read between the lines when trying to discern between fact and fiction. As they say; the devil really is often hiding in (or behind) the details.

One blog revolved around the identity theft protection and restoration company;  LifeLock. The other story revolved around a blogger who sparked national news after he published a PR pitch he received from Facebook's PR firm-- apparently seeking his help in publishing a negative piece on Google.

A story on the MadeMan website is where I found myself after clicking on a tantalizing headline noting "LifeLock Scam".  (I won't link to it - you can look it up if you really want to)  I knew immediately it was going to be another ridiculous hit job aimed at vilifying the identity theft protection company.

The article is one of those types of negative stories that is usually designed to generate traffic and revenue.  Sometimes the money for a purely negative story comes through advertising revenue and sometimes it's part of a bigger picture: a PR pitch that bashes a company deemed a threat to another's profits

Either way, these types of negative articles are often known for their baseless negative tone that shows little concern for the truth and even less credibility. They know that on the Internet, bad information lives forever.

Much like we've all learned to grow sick of the mud-slinging dirty political smear campaigns, and view them as ugly and distasteful, many of us are similarly tired of these types of dirty business smear tactics that seem to revolve around tearing someone down, rather than building themselves up.  They don't get that people see through these tactics.  Consumers want to know what company "A" has to offer -not what company "B" doesn't.

These types of smear pieces are always filled with less than half truths, mixed with very old, out of context news. For example: some people, as in the above-mentioned blog,  like to put a false spin on ...LifeLock's current services and their earlier FTC settlement. They even do their best to twist the LifeLock $1 million dollar service guarantee to be something it isn't. They completely overlook the facts: LifeLock originated the promise, which essentially says that nobody can guarantee an id theft will not occur, so LifeLock promises to help you recover your identity and losses up to one million dollars. Experian and several other id protection companies have since followed LifeLock's lead and now offer nearly identical million-dollar service guarantees.

In light of the recent Sony, Epsilon, Texas Comptroller, Michaels' Crafts and other data breaches in the news, along with the array of daily scam alerts, cyber crime warnings and victim stories -maybe it wouldn't hurt if they once again follow LifeLock's lead.

Last week LifeLock received not one but two awards for its efforts to educate consumers about today's fraud risks. The Hermes Creative Awards gave LifeLock a Gold Award for its Speakers Series, and the American Business Awards named LifeLock a Stevie Awards finalist in 14 categories, including, Customer Service Department of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility and Fastest Growing Company.

This company would not be getting accolades such as this if it were a "scam" as the negative MadeMan article tried to portray. Nor would they be ranked 8th overall and #1 in the security category in Inc. Magazine's 2010 Top 500 List, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.

Typically smear pieces will warp the truth and twist the facts --proving we can't always believe what we read.

They are designed to disguise the truth by dredging up dirt and then spinning it while magnifying anything negative and minimizing or completely disregarding anything positive. 

Facebook isn't the first, and surely not the last, to hire a PR firm to do their dirty work and bash whatever company they may deem to be their biggest competitor -the one that poses the biggest threat to their future profits.  They just happened to be caught in a backfired plot.

Those behind this type of ugly smear campaign --usually have one goal in mind: to stand alone at the top.
The thing is, if big companies could put a bigger focus on their customers and their needs, they wouldn't have to worry about what their competitor is up to. But over and over it seems that something happens when a small company begins to climb up the corporate ladder -the higher they climb the more they worry about falling back down. They fear that if they don't keep an eye on who is climbing up behind them, someone might just push them off. They don't get that those who successfully stay put at the top are usually the ones that learned a lesson most of us try to live by: not to look down on anyone, unless you are helping them up.

Update Disclosure: The above beliefs and opinions were formed after relying on misinformation that was intentionally provided to me.  

BEFORE you decide to purchase services from any identity theft protection service it's a good idea to:

•Read their privacy policy and any other terms of service. Hidden away in small print we often find that if we agree to become a member, use their service or website, we are waiving our right to privacy --and in some cases our rights to find relief and accountability for legitimate disputes.
•Find out whether or not your personal info is sold, shared or provided to partners, affiliates or vendors. 
•Read the site's terms and conditions. By using their services are you agreeing "to indemnify and hold harmless the company and its partners, officers, directors, employees, end users, licensors, affiliates, and distributors"?
•Look for conditions that waive consumer protection rights. By agreeing to use their services are agreeing that any dispute will be resolved through confidential and /or binding arbitration?
•KNOW who you're dealing with. Ask who will have access to your personal data. Are you providing your personal info to screened employees? Do they work in the company's secured offices?



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