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Freescore = Bad Deal

Ben Stein is tired of losing his money so he's going to take yours.

I can't really state this often enough. There's only one place to get free credit reports and that's AnnualCreditReport.com. Everywhere else is going to take your money and give you grief.

Freescore is that company that's been advertising with Ben Stein on TV and they've been at the same dirty tricks as all these bogus free credit score places. However, because of a blogger who posted that they're a "predatory bait-and-switch" and also pointed out that the parent company of Freescore is VERTRUE, INC who has a Better Business Bureau score of F for charging people unexpectedly and then hassling them to get their money back (quoted loosely from here).

Freescore decided to file a libel lawsuit that looks surprisingly bogus to Felix Salmon, a blogger at Reuters. Not only did they never accuse the blogger of posting anything false, but the only part of the post that could be considered libelous was a direct quote from Felix's blog in the first place!

Well, this nonsense is no surprise to anyone that's watched these companies taking people's money and providing nothing in return.

Remember, there is only one place to get free credit reports and that's AnnualCreditReport.com. Anyone else that offers you free credit reports is lying or has a gimmick.

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Key Duplication Issues

The police probably shouldn't have their keys hanging visible to the world.

I found this today online (thanks Bruce!). This story is about a guy who managed to duplicate the key used by Dutch police for their handcuffs.

The first main point to learn from this is that you have to be really careful when you walk around in public with identity badges or keys visible. They can be photographed at great distance and be duplicated at leisure (as in the example a while back where a researcher photographed a key on the ground from over 200 feet away and was able to make a working duplicate of it).

Second, he used a 3D printer to create the key from plastic instead of metal which was cheaper, easier and something most anyone can do (if they have or can get access to a 3D printer). It's worse because the key is plastic and won't trip a metal detector. But the issue that no one has talked about yet is the danger of the photo used to show off the key.

Here is the key, but something else important as well.

The person holding it (which I assume was the creator of the key) has fully visible fingers with ridge detail clear enough to possibly create a false fingerprint (just like he did with the key). In other words, by posting a photo showing his fingerprints, he may have just made the same mistake that the police did when they left their keys in the open to be photographed and copied.

Remember to always be careful when posting photos online.

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Lifelock Under 6th Class Action Lawsuit

Lifelock
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

I have no idea how I missed this, but it's great news regardless!

If you signed up with Lifelock and are unhappy with their service or guarantee or just want further info on the class action you can contact David Paris at Marks & Klein, (732)-747-7100.

I almost wish I had signed up for Lifelock so I could get involved.

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Lifelock

His name is Todd Davis.
His SSN is 457-55-5467.
And he's making millions!
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

Lifelock is that company where the CEO posted his Social Security Number with a challenge to take his identity (which someone promptly did). If you've been considering getting the service, wait. First realize what you're paying for.

If you were to go to their site and read through what they actually do, you'll find that you're not getting much for your money.

NOTE! This is for the original version of Lifelock. Due to legal settlements, they've changed their service somewhat and details are below.

  1. They place fraud alerts. The problem is, fraud alerts are practically worthlesss as far as protecting you from ID theft.

  2. They renew the fraud alerts every 90 days. Note that this isn't actually a separate benefit, but they sure seemed to want to have six benefits to their service instead of just five.

  3. They remove your name from pre-screened credit card offers. You can do it yourself, freely, and quickly at optoutprescreen.com. Also note that this is a one-time benefit and not something that you should be paying monthly for.

  4. They order your credit reports once per year which is easy for them because they can use the free annual credit report you are due by law. The bad part here is that if you wanted to use the very clever advice of getting your report from one of the companies every four months so you can keep a semi-constant tab on your credit, you can't. Lifelock blew your free coupons all at once.

  5. They'll keep a list of the companies you have credit cards and such with so you can quickly call them if your wallet is stolen. The FDIC has a great guide about how to do this yourself including the advice to carry a bare-minimum of cards and information and to make your own call-down list.

  6. Lastly, insurance (which some people claim you can't collect on).

The BEST way to actually prevent ID theft is with a Credit Freeze

Worst of all, the "fraud alert" features (1 and 2) that they provide have been blocked as a result of a recent lawsuit by Experian who claimed that Lifelock was abusing the fraud alert system by placing them for EVERYONE instead of just people who feel in imminent danger of ID theft.

Lawsuit Changes

Because of the lawsuit, they had to pull the fraud alert "feature" from their list of services. Along with some other recent changes I didn't update on, here is the complete list of Lifelock "features" as of Sept '09:

  1. LifeLock Identity Alert™ – In theory they somehow monitor whenever a credit application is entered and alert you. Isn't this what credit-monitoring services do?

  2. eRecon™ – They claim to monitor known criminal websites for your personal information. If they find it, they alert you and help you remove it.

    My BS-meter is blinking for two reasons. First, what known criminal websites are out there that Lifelock can get to more than anyone else? If they're public websites, a google-alert would work just as well (and it's free). If they're NOT public websites, how did Lifelock get access to them? Do they have criminal connections?

    Second, if they're known criminal websites, why haven't they been taken down? What's lifelock going to do to "resolve the problem" that the police couldn't do?

  3. TrueAddress™ – Monitors change of address databases and alerts you if someone tries to change yours. I don't know how well this works or even if it works as described, but if it does, this might be the first real service that Lifelock provides that isn't easy and free to do yourself.

  4. WalletLock™ – Already described this

  5. Credit card offer opt-out – Already described this

  6. Request your annual free credit reports – Already described this

  7. 24 Hour Phone Number – As it should be.

  8. $1 Million Guarantee – Sort of. Read on…

In a different class action lawsuit, the lawyers argue that despite the "1 million dollar guarantee", it's actually almost impossible to collect. The guarantee only comes into action if you can show a "defect in their service", but…

the only way fraudulent activity could result from a defect on LifeLock's behalf was if the company failed to sign its customer up for a fraud alert or add its name to an opt-list. Even if that happened, Carey said, it would be difficult for a customer to prove it was LifeLock's fault.

Other lawsuits

Lifelock also had multiple lawsuits brought by the FTC for their deceptive advertising and other BS. They first settled for $11 million in 2010, and then $100 million in 2015 for violating the terms of the first settlement. Will they ever straighten out and behave? It's hard to say, but it's also hard to imagine.

If you're tired of the crap and lies and want solid information and risk management information that will tangibly improve your defense against ID Theft, check out my Goodbye Identity Theft online course!
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Insurance, Dark Web, Oh My!

On the heels of the ID Theft crisis come the people looking to make a quick buck by selling snake oil. Insurance is always a mixed bag and the value depends heavily on how well you understand the terms and how likely you are to be able to collect when the time comes. Compare all that to the cost and then you can finally determine what actual value you are getting (if any at all).

This page is part of my Goodbye Identity Theft course and is restricted to members.
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ID Theft Monitoring Is a Ripoff

Credit monitoring promises a lot: they’ll watch for suspicious activity, they’ll alert you when they see it, and they’ll even scan the “DARK WEB!” I doubt you’d be surprised to know that it’s almost entirely marketing fluff. There may be some small value to monitoring services, but on average, they do little but take your money.

This page is part of my Goodbye Identity Theft course and is restricted to members.
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Out and About Defense

The best defense against non-credit ID Theft and a variety of other risks is to adopt a mindset of protection: Data Defense. Learn how to protect your information with simple and sometimes free countermeasures all based on a simple philosophy that the less people who have your information, the safer you are.

This page is part of my Goodbye Identity Theft course and is restricted to members.
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Blocking ID Theft with Credit Security Freezes

A credit freeze locks your credit report preventing any thieves from being able to open new accounts in your name leaving your credit cards and current accounts work like they always have. By implementing this one simple and free security measure, you can cripple the most common form of ID Theft.

This page is part of my Goodbye Identity Theft course and is restricted to members.
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Goodbye Identity Theft

It turns out that awareness is the most powerful defense. So far, you’ve likely been given incomplete or bad advice for how to respond to ID Theft risks, but that changes today. In my “Goodbye Identity Thert” course, I will give you the bottom-line basics you need to understand the problem with special focus on what tools and techniques you can use to prevent and block ID Theft. Most importantly, I teach you what you need to make informed decisions. What defenses actually work and which are just snake oil pitched by ID Theft profiteers.

This page is part of my Goodbye Identity Theft course and is restricted to members.
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Elvis Lives Thanks to Cloned Passports

Id Theft
(Image is in the Public Domain)
The Hacker's Choice, a non-commercial group of computer security experts, has released a video showing a cloned passport being approved by a security scanner at a Dutch airport. When the reader scans the passport it is revealed to belong to one Elvis Aaron Presley, complete with picture.

RFID is not ready. Every country that has tried to use it for identification has failed and miserable.

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