As CEO of LifeLock, Todd Davis has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Two months ago, the Federal Trade Commission slammed his company with a $12 million fine for deceptive advertising practices.
Attorneys General from several states have dubbed his company's identity theft protection services a scam. And this week, the Phoenix New Times reported that Davis had been a victim of identity theft at least 13 times, even while he has been busy pitching the effectiveness of his company's identity protection services.
In this interview, Davis, who is famous for publicly posting his Social Security number on billboards and TV commercials to promote LifeLock, vigorously defended his company and himself. Far from being a scam, Davis insists, LifeLock has been a game changer that has shaken things up in an industry once tightly controlled by the three major credit reporting bureaus.
People are wondering how the CEO of a company which sells identity theft protection services could himself be the victim of identity theft 13 times. What would you say to them?
Here are the facts. We have always said that no one can completely stop identity theft, including LifeLock. We have said on our website since inception that there's no lock that can't be picked if you were to spend enough time or money. But by going out there and putting ourselves and me specifically, out there with a bullhorn giving out my Social Security number, we got people talking.
We affected a massive change in the industry. Hell, we created the industry. Before, the best service you could get was credit monitoring that you could buy from a credit bureau that sells you a copy of your data that they sell to other people. Now, because of LifeLock, because we've stirred the debate, we've made the bureaus change their offerings, we made competitors elevate their game for the first time ever. We knew when we started this process that I was going to have issues that would have to be resolved and remediated. We never tried to make the claim nothing would ever happen to me.
What new industry did LifeLock create exactly?
I truly mean identity theft protection. I mean proactive services that attempt to mitigate the risk of identity theft before it happens. Not like credit bureaus which sell your data to you and to anybody else who is qualified to buy it. We were the first ones who actually began to put up a front line of defence to lessen the chance of identity theft.
You talked about the 13 times that we have remediated some kind of issue with me and my identity. [People] have tried hundreds and hundreds of times to steal my identity. The front line of defence works dramatically better than me just waiting for someone to send me a copy of my credit report after I've been a victim. We've made consumers ask for the first time 'what can you do to stop it before it happens?'
Some have accused you of being over enthusiastic in your claims about your service. The FTC hit LifeLock with a $12 million fine two months ago for deceptive advertising. What's going on?
I am passionate about what we do. [The FTC] didn't like our choice of words... so they wanted more clarity. For over a year they have been absolutely fine with the way we market our service and what we provide. The fine has to do with historical ways we advertised, not for anything we have done for over a year or for anything we do today.
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