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.
Anna Daniels says
Too funny. You won the algorithm lottery?
Carlota Ferguson says
We probably passed like ships in the night during your career in the late 60’s in alternative press in San Diego. Unfortunately, my mind was a bit hazed at the time so names escape me. It WAS fun though. Great to see this article about proglegs. I’m a HUGE follower since I am active with #StopRush now.
I vaguely remember some old houses and buildings in downtown San Diego where all the movers and shakers were hanging out. Wasn’t there a Lowell something?
Doug Porter says
That would be Lowell Bergman, graduated from the Street Journal to big time TV producer. Last I heard he was with PBS Frontline. Cheers.
John Lawrence says
Lowell Bergman was the guy who outed the tobacco companies when they all denied before Congress that they knew cigarettes caused cancer. They knew it and Lowell Bergman outed them. He has done a lot of investigative reporting for Frontline, and in my opinion has done more good than all the other 60s radicals put together.
Bergman also reported an award-winning investigation of the credit card business [The Secret History of the Credit Card (2004)].
Bergman is the Reva and David Logan Distinguished Professor of Investigative Reporting at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.
Just google him and you’ll find out more.
The LL products were not developed in a jail cell in 2003. The nefarious origin was developed in the back of a taxi cab in March 2005, in less than 35 minutes with the help of a taxi driver named “Jimmie” who came up with the information on fraud alerts, because of his misfortune in Id Theft in 2002, and learning of placing credit fraud alerts by then Gov. Janet Napolitano in Arizona in September 2003 for 2 yrs. originally, then changed to every 3 months in February 2005, and the Original intellectual idea for “Lost Wallet” and “True Credit Address” & “Red Alerts”, a self replicating software product came from “Jimmie”. Also marketing channels of advertising were discussed. You should have seen Mr. Maynard after learning of the fraud alert system and product ideas, he lost his mind repeating”oh my God”, “oh my God” ( a light bulb turned on!) on a business idea. The 2003 jail story and a taxi drivers bank ID theft was used together as a marketing idea. A Phoenix New Times reporter was standing outside the cab in March 2005 when a 1% handshake deal on all “Liflock” profits was discussed mutually between “Jimmie” and Mr. Maynard as he exited the vehicle on Mill Ave in Tempe, down the street from the now, new offices of LL. I’d say be careful with the company, as the thing the taxi driver got was “LL” idea theft, no recognition or $$ for the product ideas in 9 years… http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0009-taking-charge.pdf