ID theft protection firm sued

May 18, 2008

Andrew Clevenger

For a time, the ads were everywhere on TV and radio, the ones with the head of a security company brazenly challenging would-be thieves to try to steal his identity.

Richard Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock Inc., was so confident in his company's ability to protect his identity that he publicly revealed his Social Security number: 457-55-5462.

But according to a new class-action lawsuit filed last week in Jackson County, LifeLock's identity theft protection services were so inept that Davis' personal information was stolen repeatedly.

"While LifeLock has only publicly acknowledged that Davis' identity was compromised on one occasion, there are more than 20 driver's licenses that have been fraudulently obtained [using his personal information]," the suit states.

"Furthermore, a simple background check performed using Davis' Social Security number reveals that his entire personal profile has been compromised to the extent that the birth date associated with his Social Security number is Nov. 2, 1940, which would [inaccurately] make Davis 67 years old."

The lawsuit maintains that LifeLock, which claims on its Web site to be "the industry leader in the rapidly growing field of Identity Theft Protection," made false and misleading claims in its multimillion-dollar ad campaign about the level of protection it provides.

"Through its advertisements, LifeLock misrepresents and assures consumers that it can protect against all types of fraud including, without limitation, computer hacking, password theft and other noncredit-related theft," the suit reads.

But LifeLock doesn't protect against many forms of identity theft, according to the lawsuit.

The Arizona-headquartered company does place and renew fraud alerts on its subscribers' credit profiles. But it does nothing to combat breaches involving personal bank, employment or medical information, as well as theft pertaining to government documents and benefits, the suit alleges.

"LifeLock knows, yet fails to disclose, that the services it provides do not offer the breadth of protection that it promotes through its massive advertising campaign," the suit states.

The West Virginia suit follows similar suits filed in New Jersey in March and Maryland in April. It asks the judge to certify it as a class-action suit.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kevin Gerhold of Falling Waters, and maintains that there are numerous other state residents who were similarly misled into signing up.

Gerhold was attracted by LifeLock's $1 million guarantee against any damages resulting from breaches that occur under the company's watch.

But even that is misleading, according to Charleston attorney David Grubb, who is serving as the suit's local counsel.

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