Only You Can Prevent ID Theft

I was at Autozone yesterday getting a set of Upper Strut Mounts for my 167K mile old Saturn when the sales guy asked me for my phone number. I didn’t hesitate a bit and just rattled off ten digits. The same ten digits I always give out. Ten digits which in fact are not my phone number.
While I waited for the cashier to finish ringing up the pair of $42.99 parts I overheard the guy next to me arguing with the cashier about having to give up his phone number in order to complete his purchase. (Didn’t Radio Shack try this years ago?) The cashier assured him that the number would go nowhere other than Autozone and was only used to identify his purchase for warranty purposes. However, I didn’t see any privacy policy posted or offered for the customer to read, not that privacy policies are legally binding or anything. Once Autozone (or anyone else) has your info they can do whatever they please with it including selling it to someone else.
So what does this have to do with anything? Hopefully it serves as a reminder that the only one who is going to protect your identity is you. Some people obviously think they can hire some other company to protect their identity for them. A company like LifeLock which promises to “guarantee your good name.” Since the company’s founder publishes his own social security number on its web site and in print advertisements they must be able to protect people from identity theft, right? Why worry? Just pay Lifelock and your good name is guaranteed!
Well come to find out the company is currently being sued by customers in at least three states who say that LifeLock did anything but protect their identities. In the course of gathering information for the trial the lawyer for the case found 87 instances where people have tried to steal the identity of the CEO of the company, 20 of which were attempts at obtaining fake drivers licenses. And one instance of fraud being perpetrated in the name of the CEO! (I wonder if the CEO can get a refund?)
So what is the lesson to be learned? You can either pay your $10 a month and live in blissful ignorance until you get burned or you can expend a little effort and protect yourself. Don’t give out personal information to people who don’t need it (which is just about everyone), don’t use your PIN in point-of-sale machines, check your credit reports once a year, and don’t do what the CEO of Lifelock did and publish your social security number on your website.
 



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About Space Rogue

Space Rogue is widely sought after by journalists and industry analysts for his unique views and perceptions of the information security industry. He has been called to testify before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and has been quoted in numerous magazine and newspaper articles as well as appeared on such TV shows as News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN Nightly News, ABC News Online with Sam Donaldson, and others. A recognized name within the industry, Space Rogue has written articles that are often quoted or refered to by other major media outlets. He has spoken before numerous audiances including the Digital Messageing Association, Defcon, Pumpcon, HOPE, H2K, and others. As a former member of L0pht Heavy Industries, Space Rogue ran the widely popular Hacker News Network which quickly became a major resource on the Internet for daily information security news. Before HNN he ran the The Whacked Mac Archives, which at the time, was the largest and the most popular Macintosh security site on the net. Currently Space Rogue does consulting for various companies.

One thought on “Only You Can Prevent ID Theft

  1. Awesome.
    Thank you for saying this.
    I was explaining this to someone who gave me a glazed look on the topic, just last week.

    Besides, I hate their Banner Ads and how they function in my local newspaper’s website. I even complained to the newspaper about it.
    I have lost alot of respect for Lewis Black for being such a Tool too for shilling for this crappy company that is selling THE FEAR.
    Please keep up the good work!

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