By Doug Porter
So I’m making my afternoon spin through the interwebs, looking to see if the world ended or anything. I’ve got my “list”; some mainstream media, a few lefty blogs, a couple of righty blogs and a few LOL Catz.
I’m looking for amusement as much as news. After all, it’s Friday afternoon and I don’t another news roundup column due until Monday.
There on Daily Kos, I spot the headline: It’s got a couple of keywords that stoke my interest:
Is Rush Limbaugh’s Most Loyal Advertiser A Scam?
Clicky, clicky, I go.
I’m always looking for bad news about the Rushbo. What follows on Kos after the click is a terrific story. No doubt about it, one of Rush Limbaugh’s main advertisers is on the very shady side. I’m actually surprised he’s got any sponsors left.
After all, over 2400 sponsors have told broadcast outlets not to associate their ads with Rush over the last year. Something about him calling Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a slut last year after she testified before congress about birth control was the breaking point for a lot of people.
The Daily Kos story, by a diariest who’s calls him/herself ‘Proglegs’. He/she is a regular contributor of interesting and original content. The sponsor in question is a company called Lifelock. They make the claim that you’ll be protected from identity theft if you’ll send them $110 a year.
Like the man whose show they sponsor, Lifelock is a lot of bluster with very little luster. From the Daily Kos story:
Lifelock began as the brainchild of a man named Robert Maynard. The way Maynard told the story, he was arrested when someone who had stolen his identity failed to pay back a $16,000 loan from a casino in Las Vegas. While sitting in jail mulling over his wrongful imprisonment–just like Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham–he had the idea of starting up a company that would protect users from identity theft.
Only problem? The identity theft never happened. Maynard was the person who took out the loan and failed to pay it back.
You’d think things could only get better for this company after such a rough start. You’d be wrong. Maynard resigned in 2007, after the information above became public. But that’s just where Lifelock’s problems really began in earnest.
CEO Todd Davis began his Social Security Number on the company’s website to promote Lifelock, in effect daring identity thieves to steal it. Lifelock even ran television ads with a truck emblazoned with the number driving around the bustling streets of New York City. In 2007, Wired broke the news that a man in Ft. Worth had used Davis‘s SSN to obtain a loan. In the months that followed, Davis’s identity was successfully stolen again and again–a total of 13 times.
Oh, boy. These folks are some kind of questionable. They’ve been sued for corporate identity theft by a competitor. In 2010 Lifelock agreed to pay $12 million to settle a complaint they were engaged in “egregious case of deceptive advertising.” with the FTC and 35 state attorneys general.
They continue to operate, plying on peoples’ fears with a package of services largely available for no cost to anybody willing to do a Google search. And since fear is their main product, advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show makes sense, right?
But wait. Here comes the ironic part. Lots of web sites get revenue from ads placed by distant computers using algorithms that, in theory, match the ad to the story or the known profile of the person reading it.
As I scrolled up after reading the story, there, plastered across the top of the page containing an article full of damming accusations was an ad for-you guessed it- Lifelock.