LegalZoom’s Less than Adequate Identity Theft Advice

As far as I know, LegalZoom is a legal service which offers help with document preparation, reviews, and general advice. Here’s a cut from their web site…

That’s why we created LegalZoom — to help you quickly and affordably create estate planning documents, start a business, register a trademark and more — from the convenience of your home or office.
To make LegalZoom the best legal document service on the web, we assembled a team of legal experts, including retired judges and law school professors. All of our forms were developed by experienced attorneys, so you can be sure that our documents are dependable.
Most importantly, we are always thinking about you, our customer. Our satisfaction guarantee is second to none, and our helpful customer service representatives are available by phone.

Now I don’t know much about their service, so I’m not endorsing or denouncing it. However, they wrote an article called Protect yourself from Identity Theft Around the Holidays and the “expert” advice, is all good general life tips, which is good. However, as for its relevance to Identity Theft, it contains basically the same information everyone always has about how to “prevent” Identity Theft (when shopping around holidays or whenever else).
Safeguard your belongings
– Women should not leave their purses open or unattended.
– Carry handbags with short straps and hold them securely.
– Men should not carry their wallets in their back pants pocket
– Be alert. Don’t let yourself be too easily distracted by the festive decorations.
Going to the ATM
– Use your body to shield your ATM transactions.
– Try going to a bank ATM in bright light, preferably one with a security guard.
– If you see an odd-looking gadget attached to your ATM, try another machine.
Use the Internet Wisely
– Install reliable virus protection and anti-spyware software on your PC.
– Never open suspicious-looking emails. Delete them immediately.
– Always use secure web servers for online shopping. Look for URLs that display “https” instead of “http”
– Throwing away an old computer? Erase the hard drive first.
Giving to Charity
– Never give out your personal or financial information over the phone.
– Contact a charity directly to make a donation.
The article concludes by saying “Following these simple tips can help you avoid being a victim of ID theft this holiday season.
Oh really?
As we know, there’s nothing at all that has been proven to be an effective method for individuals to protect themselves from Identity Theft. It doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t shred, or be aware of who they’re giving their information to, or be cautious regarding how they carry their wallet. However, doesn’t it give people a false sense of security to think that if they shred, or burn, or don’t shop online, or don’t carry their wallet in their back pocket, etc., that this will somehow prevent Identity Theft?
It’s more than misleading… it’s just not true.
So LegalZoom, thank-you for the article. It contains some really good life tips! But I would like to ask you something.
Have you seen this?
Over 100 million pieces of information have been stolen in the last two years.
In your next article, could you please address the following?
How do we, as individual consumers, prevent the world from hacking into insurance companies, mortgage companies, and schools that hold our information?
How do we, as individual consumers, stop laptops that hold our information from walking out of companies through theft or through negligence?
How do we, as individual consumers, prevent banks from losing backup tapes that contain our sensitive data?
How do we, as individual consumers, prevent disgruntled ex-employees from selling our information (which they saved a database of onto their home computers before being fired) to the highest bidder on the Internet?
How do we prevent our credit card companies, mortgage companies, real estate companies, insurance companies, and other entities, from creating weak privacy policies which actually allow them to share, or sell, at their discretion, our personally identifiable information?
I would be interested to know how LegalZoom proposes we tackle these more difficult questions.
The even bigger and better question I would like to see answered is: how do we get our social security numbers to stop being such a valuable point of reference for identification?
Any answers welcome and appreciated!


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One Response to “LegalZoom’s Less than Adequate Identity Theft Advice”

  1. boomersrec Says:

    I heard recently that the DMV will soon have a national database file for all drivers, and their pictures. I don’t know if it will help with the social security number issue, but it may help some problems that currently happen because DMV’s commonly issue incorrect drivers license information.
    This was a great article about how unsafe we really are as far as protecting our identity. It’s too bad that more great information is out there to educate people as to what the real dangers are. You don’t steal someone’s identity by standing outside of the ATM, you do it by gaining access to their personal info. Whether it is by using one of the “people searching” websites, or though public records, nearly everyone’s identity is as risk with the system currently the way it is.