By Kim Zetter, Wired
Apparently, when you publish your Social Security number prominently on your website and billboards, people take it as an invitation to steal your identity.
LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, whose number is displayed in the companyâ€™s ubiquitous advertisements, has by now learned that lesson. Heâ€™s been a victim of identity theft at least 13 times, according to the Phoenix New Times.
Thatâ€™s 12 more times than has previously been known.
In June 2007, Threat Level reported that Davis had been the victim of identity theft after someone used his identity to obtain a $500 loan from a check-cashing company. Davis discovered the crime only after the company called his wifeâ€™s cellphone to recover the unpaid debt.
About four months after that story published, Davisâ€™ identity was stolen again by someone in Albany, Georgia, who opened an AT&T/Cingular wireless account using his Social Security number (.pdf), according to a police report obtained by the New Times. The perpetrator racked up $2,390 in charges on the account, which remained unpaid. Davis, whose real name according to police reports is Richard Todd Davis, only learned a year later that his identity had been stolen again after AT&T handed off the debt to a collection agency and a note appeared on his credit report.
Then last year, Davis discovered seven more fraudulent accounts on his credit report that were opened with his personal information and have outstanding debt, according to the police report.
Someone opened a Verizon account in New York, leaving an unpaid bill of at least $186. An account at Centerpoint Energy, a Texas utility, was delinquent $122. Credit One Bank was owed $573, and Swiss Colony, a gift-basket company, was seeking $312.
In addition to these amounts, Davisâ€™s credit report showed five collection agencies were seeking other sums from accounts opened in his name: Bay Area Credit was pursuing $265; Associated Credit Services was seeking two debts in the amount of $207 and $213; Enhanced Recovery Corporation was chasing $250 and $381.
A spokeswoman for the Albany police, who investigated the AT&T/Cingular account but never made any arrest, told the New Times that Davisâ€™ publication of his Social Security number created more victims than just himself.
â€œItâ€™s unfortunate he chose to conduct business in that way,â€ spokeswoman Phyllis Banks said. â€œItâ€™s not fair to [AT&T] because theyâ€™re losing a pretty substantial amount of money.â€
LifeLock refused to discuss the issue with the New Times. The company did not respond to a request for comment from Threat Level.
The company was fined $12 million in March by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising.
Lifelock promised in ads that its $10 monthly service would protect consumers from identity theft. The company also offered a $1 million guarantee to compensate customers for losses incurred if they became a victim after signing up for the service. The FTC called the claims bogus and accused LifeLock of operating a scam.
â€œIn truth, the protection they provided left such a large hole â€¦ that you could drive that truck through it,â€ said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, referring to a LifeLock TV ad showing a truck painted with Davisâ€™s Social Security number driving around city streets.
Davisâ€™ history as an identity-theft victim would seem to call into question the companyâ€™s ability to protect consumers from a similar fate.