Framing the Dialogue

Protection Racket

I think, therefore I Am…

I am starting to really like this category as it is all about what I think.  I don’t have to spend a lot of time doing research, linking to articles, you know the hard, time consuming stuff.  The thing that is bothering me today is the whole identity theft thing.  I hate to use the word scam, but what do you call an industry that purports to protect you from harm caused by others and allowed by others?

With this “protection racket” you can have your life “locked” ultimately for a mere $25 per month.  So for my family of five that would be a mere $125 per month.  And for what?  You’ve done nothing wrong.  Someone probably obtained your credit information illegally, applied for credit, got approved by some institution and stole either your money or your good name.  And you are expected to pay for this protection?  There is no doubt that the perpetrators should be punished, but what about the banks (I only use the word “bank” as a general term for institutions that allow the fraud)?  By the way I’d also like to remind you that when started the Social Security Number was NOT to be used as a form of identificationI am old enough to have a card that expressly says that.

If your identity is stolen because the bank did not provide adequate procedures/protections in place to ensure that they were providing access or credit to the correct individual why don’t they have to pay?  Okay they probably do bear some responsibility from a monetary standpoint, but what about clearing your name?  Shouldn’t they be responsible for that too?  Aren’t they the ones who let it happen?  The correct answer is “YES!”

I have nothing against the Life-Lock folks.  They’ve got a niche business and provide a service that people want.  My argument is that it is a service that people shouldn’t need.  If my memory serves me correctly our family has received roughly four letters within the last three years advising us that our identities may have been lost, exposed, given away, etc.  Some type of security breach or most likely some employee took something home that he shouldn’t have and lost it in the Internet ether.  Most of the institutions have offered the ID theft prevention services for one year as insurance.

That’s really nice of them as long as the information is used within one year.  After that It’ll cost me $125 a month to protect me from their screw up.  They exposed my information; some criminal used the information; some bank approved the theft and I’m expected to pay to protect my good name and give me peace of mind.   You’ve probably seen this scene in a movie or read it in a book.  A well-dressed man (perhaps in a pin-striped suit) walks into a story offering some protection services to the owner.  The owner is not sure, but the protection services offered cannot be refused.  The potential harm to himself, his family, or his business cannot be guaranteed without the “insurance” of the well-dressed man so the owner pays.

I am not suggesting that if you don’t purchase identity theft protection someone will burn your store down, but really the main difference is who is making the threat.  The ID protectors don’t directly threaten you, but they paint a pretty dismal picture of what can happen to you if you don’t buy their services.

Perhaps that line is what makes it legal, but if that is not a racket I don’t know what is.

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