LifeLock has been running to center on the Equifax breach, with ads and press statements saying how the breach shows how important its own services cost: up to $29.99 a month can be to preserve you from identity theft.
“A major credit bureau just encountered a breach potentially affecting 143 million people,” the firm says on its Web page. “Don’t wait to get identity theft protection.” An official of Symantec, LifeLock’s parent company, told News that because the Equifax breach was announced, LifeLock’s Web traffic has grown sixfold and signups per hour are running 10 times ahead of the pre-Equifax era. “Most are spending the full price, rather than discounts,” the executive said. “It’s a really ridiculous response from the market.”
Here’s what LifeLock isn’t spreading so widely: When you buy its security, you’re signing up for credit recording and monitoring services provided by, yes, Equifax.
You don’t want to have a companion that violates its fiduciary duty by not having the proper security in place.
LifeLock confirmed a four-year contract with Equifax in December 2015, with the help to start the coming April. At the time, LifeLock said it would “acquire certain credit products and services from Equifax” that would then “constitute a part of LifeLock’s identity theft protection services for consumers.”
The connection is still active, according to a report LifeLock issued to me by email late Monday. LifeLock’s terms of service, a small-print 6,000-word report on its website, lists Equifax Consumer Services as one of its “service providers.” It defines that as a LifeLock customer you’re allowing Equifax “to obtain your customer report information, including your balance information, from the personal credit report” kept by itself and its fellow credit reporting firms, Experian and the TransUnion. This allows Equifax to generate a FICO-like credit score for you and to “locate” your credit reports in the three firms’ records.
In its report, LifeLock said it is “following this position closely” and “at the end of Equifax’s investigation, we will take whatever measures are appropriate to assure that they are protecting their data to our satisfaction.” That still gives LifeLock dealing with the fact that the loan firm it’s purchasing assistance from is the same firm whose default it’s exploiting in its marketing.
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