My Name is Todd Davis. This is my social security number...
May 19, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Anti-Identity-Theft Firm Lifelock was fined $12 Million in March for deceptive business practices by the FTC. More bad news: their CEO had his identity stolen 13 times after posting his own social security number in company ads as proof they could protect him.

Company/co-founder profile and exposé from the Phoenix News Times: What Happened in Vegas....
posted by zarq (56 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yesssss!
posted by Mister_A at 9:41 AM on May 19, 2010


Ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!
posted by rtha at 9:46 AM on May 19, 2010


No, MY name is Todd Davis and THIS is my social security number.
posted by spicynuts at 9:48 AM on May 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I opened a metafilter sock puppet account using Todd's SSN, does that count?
posted by HuronBob at 9:50 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


As the first comment in the Phoenix New Times article points out, the PDF that they link to doesn't really contain redacted information. If you copy & paste, all of the text behind the black lines is there, including address and phone numbers.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:51 AM on May 19, 2010


I was recently subjected against my will to angry right wing talk radio, and one of the hosts read promotional spots for LifeLock and sang its praises, so yet another reason I dont agree with Talk Radio
posted by wheelieman at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2010


Well it works if you take the long view. His credit is shot so it's pointless to steal his identity. No worries
posted by Babblesort at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Okay, now is it permissible to use "FAIL"?

Because if ever a FAIL did FAIL, this was it. I had to tell three different people not to use LifeLock. Now I can back it up with this astonishing in hubris, unsurprising in execution, FAIL.
posted by adipocere at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, now is it permissible to use "FAIL"?

It makes a better tag than "schmuck." I'll add it in.
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on May 19, 2010


Needs a "schadenfreude" while you're at it.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2010


Never heard of this, so thanks for all the links.

How dumb do you have to be to know that the system doesn't work but still use your own SSN in the ads? Or is the CEO just a frontman?
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2010


523-67-1645












Oh, come on, you're not really that gullible, are you?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:57 AM on May 19, 2010


I'm Todd Davis and so's my wife.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Previously
posted by briank at 10:01 AM on May 19, 2010


Needs a "schadenfreude" while you're at it.

Done! :)
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on May 19, 2010


I'm a bigger fan of 078-05-1120, myself. Oldie but a goodie.
posted by rokusan at 10:07 AM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Heh.

What are the legal identity verification requirements of a business opening any kind of credit line or billing account? I know that it is illegal to possess identification materials (fake or real) with the intent of committing identity fraud and I know that companies are required to report data security breaches. I know that there must be some federal or industry organization requirements, but I am not familiar with them or their enforcement mechanisms and quick googling was not fruitful. My pessimistic assumption is that many companies will skimp on identity verification as long as the resulting revenue losses are smaller than the cost of more comprehensive verification, no laws are broken, and no bad press is generated.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:08 AM on May 19, 2010


I understand Lifelock's model was pretty egregiously and demonstrably sucky, but shouldn't all credit monitoring / security services get dinged, just like his? I can't think of any way any such service could actually work.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:17 AM on May 19, 2010


many companies will skimp on identity verification as long as the resulting revenue losses are smaller than the cost of more comprehensive verification

This.

Re-branding "credit fraud" (the bank's problem) as "identity theft" (your problem) has been a master-stroke of victim-blaming genius by the credit industry.

The fact that American credit bureaus will cough up my credit report to anyone who knows my name and social security number is beyond irresponsible: it should be criminally negligent.
posted by Dimpy at 10:22 AM on May 19, 2010 [24 favorites]


867-53-009
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on May 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


and I know that companies are required to report data security breaches.

Hmm... I wonder if they're obliged to report their own advertising as a data security breach? It would be extremely amusing if that was the case, and they got in further hot water for failing to do so.
posted by FishBike at 10:30 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re-branding "credit fraud" (the bank's problem) as "identity theft" (your problem) has been a master-stroke of victim-blaming genius by the credit industry.

This is a brilliant Mitchell and Webb radio sketch that makes this point beautifully. One of their best short sketches, IMO.
posted by metaBugs at 10:31 AM on May 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


I can't think of any way any such service could actually work.

The most reasonable ones are simply a form of insurance. They don't really claim to prevent identity theft, just to help you clean up afterward. But as Dimpy points out, such a service shouldn't even be necessary in the first place.

For example: I recently got a mortgage through Bank of America (NB: don't ever, ever do this). During the application process, Bank of America sent me three other people's full credit reports: names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, the works. What's more, Bank of America didn't even appear to break any laws in doing so, which I find baffling. Financial institutions and credit agencies really ought to be held to stricter standards when it comes to behavior that effectively facilitates fraud. Of course, I returned the credit reports promptly, but someone less scrupulous could've done all manner of unfortunate things with the information.

867-53-009

Missing a digit there, The Whelk.
posted by jedicus at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If anyone needed an example of "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is" this is it. But what makes it even better is this doofus seems to have believed his own hype. Too bad he was able to deceive so many others.
posted by tommasz at 10:35 AM on May 19, 2010


Hey, everyone, look at this asshole.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:43 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on, you're not really that gullible, are you?

Eh, I just stole someone's identity. I don't really care if it was yours.
posted by hermitosis at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2010


078-05-1120

There's a fascinating story there. I'm glad I Googled it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:07 AM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I run past the Lifelock HQ almost every day... nice office location....
posted by ph00dz at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2010


867-5309
posted by notsnot at 11:14 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I can't understand how people can be so stupid. I can't understand that."

That poor lady would blow a gasket if she heard about LifeLock.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2010


Astro Zombie: 078-05-1120

There's a fascinating story there. I'm glad I Googled it.


Yes it definitely is -- here's the tale for those who are lazier than we are.

The story with 219-09-9999 at the bottom of the page is pretty hilarious too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:24 AM on May 19, 2010


I was recently subjected against my will to angry right wing talk radio

Likewise. Had to take a cab (which I hate) and the driver was listening to Michael Savage, who was extolling the virtues of LifeLock. I had already filed the company away as "scam," but this news is excellent.

LifeLock is also one of the sponsors of the Glenn Beck show.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:30 AM on May 19, 2010


And, covered in the New Yorker in 1941. Very funny story.
posted by JBennett at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2010


LifeLock is also one of the sponsors of the Glenn Beck show.

Well, of course it is! It's a company that caters to paranoid old people who are terrified by all things modern and hi-tech, but have absolutely zero knowledge of (or curiosity about) how any of it actually works. They just know it's big, strange, and scary and obviously out to get them.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure it works great if your SS# isn't likely to be stolen anyway.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2010


From McMikeNamara's link, aside from the tale of the number itself, this also caught my eye:

"...wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in Lockport, New York decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets."

"Even though the card was only half the size of a real card, was printed all in red, and had the word 'specimen' written across the face..."

Anyone else see a problem here?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:42 AM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oddly, my social security number is 9 asterisks.
posted by swift at 11:46 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


As the first comment in the Phoenix New Times article points out, the PDF that they link to doesn't really contain redacted information. If you copy & paste, all of the text behind the black lines is there, including address and phone numbers.

And social security numbers, and bank account numbers, and credit card account numbers.

Hah!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:05 PM on May 19, 2010


He's the type who jumps back up after a fall — one of those edgy entrepreneurs who always seem to be on the verge of great success or great failure...
His first personal bankruptcy was in 1990, and he had filed again in 1994 for one of his failed companies.

Sounds like he's one of those edgy entrepreneurs whose recklessness, stupidity, and unwillingness to get a real job cost us "normal" people a bundle.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:05 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we're going to trade fun SS#'s, how about Richard Nixon's (i.e. 567-68-0515), published (for the first time AFAIK) in "Steal This Book"?. I used that on forms for years...
posted by Aversion Therapy at 12:53 PM on May 19, 2010


Mike Tyson's is 007-373-5963. What was the question again?
posted by sdrawkcab at 1:13 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Question: What companies legitimately need your social security number? I know that you're supposed to be able to refuse to provide it to most companies, but which ones can require it legally?
posted by stoneweaver at 1:15 PM on May 19, 2010


Anybody who will be reporting income you make to the IRS. Also, transactions in which the IRS may be interested. And, as I recall, that's it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2010


Rule one of living in America, really since the early 20th century, is "do not buy anything advertised on AM radio."
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:35 PM on May 19, 2010


Social security numbers are not secrets.
posted by Nelson at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2010


> Social security numbers are not secrets.

What's yours, then?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:05 PM on May 19, 2010


Mike Tyson's is 007-373-5963. What was the question again?

Brilliant, sdrawkcab.
posted by makabampow at 2:31 PM on May 19, 2010


Todd Davis seems like the kind of guy who vehemently insists the gun is not loaded.
Then later insists he didn't know the gun was loaded.

Okay, now is it permissible to use "FAIL"?


Howabout a Frau Farbissina: LIES!
posted by Smedleyman at 4:05 PM on May 19, 2010


What's yours, then?

The only reason I don't answer you is that if I do have a credit fraud problem, my publishing it might be seen as evidence of negligence. But I've given my SSN to over 20 businesses in my lifetime, all of whom have it on file. It's a slightly better secret than my credit card number or mother's maiden name, but not in any way a real secret.
posted by Nelson at 5:40 PM on May 19, 2010


NO! I'M SPARTACUS TODD DAVIS!
posted by armage at 6:17 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mike Tyson's is 007-373-5963. What was the question again?

Pointless trivia: One way that 373-5963 can be read in Japanese is "みなさんごくろうさん" ("Good job, everyone"):
3  7  3   5  9  6  3
mi na san go ku ro san

posted by armage at 6:27 PM on May 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thread delivers. What was the web site, again?
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:20 PM on May 19, 2010


Bank of America sent me three other people's full credit reports: names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, the works. What's more, Bank of America didn't even appear to break any laws in doing so, which I find baffling.
What are credit reports for, then, if not to be sent to third parties who don't know you very well or have an existing business relationship with you?
posted by hattifattener at 11:37 PM on May 19, 2010


Hey guys, weirdest thing, your social security number wordfilters to all X's!

Try it! Here's mine:

XXX-XXX-XXXX
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


XXX-XX-XXXX

...

You may be onto something here. Someone alert Todd Davis. Mathowie might be onto something revolutionary here.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2010


Question: What companies legitimately need your social security number? I know that you're supposed to be able to refuse to provide it to most companies, but which ones can require it legally?

Fannie Mae now requires mortgage lenders to verify reported income by cross-checking with your federal tax returns, so anyone lending you money for a house will get it.
posted by palliser at 1:21 PM on May 21, 2010


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