Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Ethical Business Model

The good folks at lifelock would like me to remind you about them. I've blogged enthusiastically about their credit monitoring and identity-theft protection before and I'd be happy to do it again - but that's what hyperlinks are for.

I get a lot of traffic looking for that post. And yet identity theft has not stopped, because frankly lots of us find the whole thing too baffling and confusing to deal with.
For the seventh year in a row, identity theft tops the Federal Trade Commission's complaint list, accounting for 36 percent of the 674,354 complaints received between January 1 and December 31, 2006.*
Now, you might think that having a credit card with what seems like a similar service is the same thing, but it's not. It's generally not as comprehensive as Lifelock's - and it's not really a service to you - it's their routine fraud prevention presented as a service. (Ever had to call your card number to confirm that you really did want to buy a left-handed garden rake for Uncle Joey?)

Lifelock has no transactional interest in your doings, other than being paid a flat fee for keeping an eye on things. Their website is a model of openness, and frankly, I think it should be a research assignment in all business and marketing classes. Very little hype, no weasel words, and all limitations in the same type size as the promise. It's a model of an ethical contract.

And THAT is the point to this post. I don't need to tell you to trust them. Everything you need to know is on their site - including the rarely mentioned but vital bit of information - to what extent they can be trusted.

That extent is one million dollars.

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