March 9, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. -Attorney General Chris Koster today joined the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 34 states in announcing an agreement reached with LifeLock, Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based identity theft protection provider, that resolves an investigation into the company's advertising practices.
"In today's high-tech world, it's only reasonable to have concerns about identity theft," Koster said, "but consumers should be leery of any business that promises full-proof identity protection."
Koster said his office joined the FTC and other states in an investigation of LifeLock amid allegations that the company made a range of advertising claims that misled consumers to believe its services were a "proven solution" that would protect against all forms of identity theft, including criminal, mortgage, and child identity theft. He said the settlement also resolves allegations that the company misrepresented the nature of specific services it provided to protect or alert consumers when their personal information had been compromised.
Koster said that although the FTC and state attorneys general share jurisdiction to investigate unfair and deceptive practices against consumers, a joint enforcement action of this magnitude is unprecedented.
LifeLock sells identity theft services, which past advertisements claimed were "guaranteed" to protect consumers' personal information and prevent criminals from using it to open accounts in their names LifeLock's advertisements also implied that individuals with fraud alerts on their consumer reports will always receive a phone call prior to the opening of new accounts, when in fact a phone call is not required by federal law.
Koster said under the agreement, LifeLock is prohibited from misrepresenting that its services:
Eliminate the risk of identity theft.
Koster said LifeLock agreed to pay $11 million in restitution to consumers. The FTC and states will jointly send letters to eligible consumers, including those in Missouri, notifying them of the agreement and how they can opt-in to the settlement. LifeLock also agreed to pay $1 million to cover the costs of the states' investigation. Missouri will receive $11,000 to the Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund in that part of the settlement.
Koster reminds consumers that federal and state laws provide them with a variety of tools to help protect against identity theft. He said consumers who have a reasonable suspicion that they are or are about to become victims of identity theft can place free fraud alerts on their credit reports by contacting one of the three major credit reporting agencies. In addition, consumers can obtain free copies of their credit reports to review their own credit histories and identify errors and inaccuracies, such as unauthorized accounts. Consumers are also best-positioned to monitor their own bank accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or charges.