Someone at Version2 Web Development, Textlinkbrokers, and 360 Enterprises is stealing my content, in clear violation of U.S. federal copyright law.
He’s responsible for a splog located at charliesidentitytheftblog.com . He steals my blog posts and plugs them into a robot-like spam blog. It appears he started doing this in August.
In 2005, Experian (doing business as consumerinfo.com) was fined $1 million by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive and fraudulent marketing of credit reports (see the FTC report here). Basically they marketed “FREE” credit reports and then charged people for the services. In clear violation of Federal law.
Experian fought it but was forced to pay a fine and put a disclaimer on their web site. So how did they implement this disclosure? Go to http://www.experian.com/ and see. They put the disclaimer in tiny font, orange text on orange background! Practically invisible. Especially since 1/12 men and 1/200 women are color-blind to some degree.
Anyone wondering why I named my company Truston?
Update: here’s a screen shot of the disclosure from the Experian home page:
Recently, we announced free credit monitoring as part of our myTruston service. We did so because after the massive data breach at the VA, the government looked set to spend billions of dollars to provide credit monitoring and other credit services. We wanted to let you know there is an alternative.
After some thought, however, it occurred to us that calling our service “free credit monitoring” might be misleading. So we decided to use a different term: credit inspecting. I was unsure at first if we wanted to invent a new term, but not only is our service different, in some ways, it is better than credit monitoring (read why below). Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q. What is MyTruston?
A. myTruston is a web-based service that provides free credit inspecting and premium (pay for) ID theft recovery services. It is unique because:
Q. Wait a second, I thought you said it was free credit monitoring?
A. Yes, we did call it that initially. However, we feel that our credit inspecting service provides some distinct advantages to and differences from conventional credit monitoring and we didn't want to confuse anyone. So we now use a term that we feel better reflects what it does.
Q. What is Truston all about?
A. Truston’s mission comes from my personal experiences as an ID theft victim counselor: help people deal with identity theft without putting their personal information at risk. So we offer free credit inspecting and make a business by providing premium recovery services.
Q. Why are you offering credit inspecting for free?
A. So we can help veterans, military and anyone else concerned about ID theft. We will also offer a premium service for helping folks recover when they find problems.
Q. You say it is free, but are there any additional charges?
A. The credit inspecting is truly free—no credit card will be required to sign up and use it. And we won't charge you in the future.
Q. When will it be available?
A. MyTruston will be available in the third quarter this year. Sign up here for a chance to try it before the general public.
Q. How much will it cost?
A. We are still working on the pricing, but we think we’ll have a menu like pricing with a different cost for each service. If you have any suggestions on how to price the premium services, send me an email (my address is on the left sidebar).
Q. How can I learn more?
A. We will publish more details here on this blog in the near future. Stay tuned.
Update: On 7/14 I added the How much will it cost? question.
A press release is going to hit the wire services shortly. We are announcing our free credit monitoring service and premium ID theft recovery services. They’ll be available in the 3rd quarter 2006. We’ve been working on this for well over a year. In light of the VA data reach, the timing is right for us to announce this now. The VA is faced with a multi-billion dollar expenditure and we wanted to let them know about our service now.
What is it? It is called myTruston. It’s a web-based service that provides free credit monitoring and ID theft recovery. It's unique because it doesn't require the user to send us any sensitive personal information, the credit monitoring is free, and it's available 24/7/365 over the web. More to come…
I have been slow in responding to email and I have been posting lightly the last few days. But it's all for a good cause. We've been working 18 hour days here at Truston this week and we're going to have something exciting to show you very soon.
So, I will be catching up on emails and blog posting over the next few days. There's some important things I want to post about, including the controversial data breach bill that just passed committee in Congress.
I attended the ID Theft Summit in LA last week (see here and here for my posts). While I was there, I was interviewed by the Ventura County Star. My quote made the front page of Friday’s paper (February 24). The archived story should be able to be seen here. (free registration required).
A few of the other neat people I met there include Russell Jones, a partner with Deloitte’s Security Services group; a number of folks from the Department of Consumer Affairs, Joanne McNabb, Chief of the California Office of Privacy Protection; and Eric Drew the founder of KnightsBridgeCastle which offers some interesting ID Theft services. I got a tremendous amount of positive feedback about our about-to-be-released service. I was doing some demonstrations using the Wi-Fi at the LA Convention Center ($25 for the day, by the way. Outrageous.)
Right now Mari Frank is talking. She’s quite a good speaker. Interesting fact: 10 billion pre approved credit card offers were sent last year! She is a victim herself. She has a fascinating story about a victim (Raymond Lorenzo) she’s helping. She said the story is on her radio show web site. this guy had his life ruined by an imposter…many fraudulent financial accounts, and felony convictions in his name. Some tips…never change your social security number to deal with ID theft, checks are NOT safe than credit cards, the police are NOT the first people you callif oyu’re a victim (call the credit reporting agencies first), watch out for ATM/DEbit cards that use a Mastercard/Visa logo—don’t use those if you can help it.
Tips. Free from Choicepoint: employer report, insurance report, and landlord/tenant report—all on you. You can also write to Choicepoint and get some free background information from them. www.choicepoint.com. And don’t forget to get your free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. California is the only state that has an office of privacy protection. Mari has mentioned Choicepoint several times (whew, they are getting reamed here). She also said she is going to be interviewing Choicepoint’s Chef Privacy Officer; not sure where, maybe her radio show?
Update: Now I am blogging from an afternoon session. ID theft prevention tips with Linda and Jay Foley, co-directors of ID Theft Resource Center. Statistics for 2004–2005…after talking to law enforcement, they’ve been seeing 25% incrfease each of the last two years. 10 million victims in 2003, Yet we usually see 10 million victims as the number quoted everywhere…So it’s way more than the 10 million (I agree, I always tell people this 10 million number is bogus). 19,000 victims per day, 13 per minute. Why are Calif, Arizona, Nevada, Texas the top ID theft states? Border states, routes for drugs. Phoenix-Scottsdale is #1 city in US. Linda and Jay say AZ doesn’t do much about ID theft.
Lots of god tips. Here’s a funny one. US Postal Inspectors call the little red flag on your mailbox the “Come Steal Me” flag. Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox…ever. Here’s some ne information they added recently—education of teens, and protecting them. She’s talking about blogs and MySpace—she says teens are putting way too much sensitive information into their MySpace profiles. People are often not who they seem to be online.You DON”T need to provide a SSN for your child to enroll in school. Watch out for bogus online free annual credit report sites. Call this # 877–322–8228 if you want to get a free annual credit report from the real authorized group.