Steve Jackson Disses Lameo Free Credit Report Monitoring Service

Steve Jackson, a well-known game designer, got an offer for free credit report monitoring from his bank. When he called up the monitoring company, Intersections Inc, the customer service rep rattled off a boilerplate agreement and asked for his assent. When he asked if they would send him a copy, she said they don’t send out copies. When he asked then how he would have a record of what they agreed to, she got huffy and said, “This is free. You don’t need to worry about it.”

Preferring not to have his credit report read without a written agreement, Steve said no. A week later, a card arrived in the mailing congratulating him on signing up with free credit report monitoring services from Intersections Inc! It even included the Terms of Service that the rep said they were supposedly unable to send out.

A conference call later between his bank and Intersections his problem is on the way to resolution, but of the experience Steve writes, “Identity theft is a real problem. It happened to one of our staffers recently. But after this experience, I think “services” like this are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Identity Protection . . . Not?! [Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator] (Thanks to John!)

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  1. SuffolkHouse says:

    Thank god the Bush administration will offer no oversight over these kinds of practices.

    Let the free market run free! That’s what solves problems.

    It’s like when my parents let me dress myself and run free through the neighborhood with no oversight. They knew that if I ever got his by a car or acted a fool I’d learn from experience. It’s better to be free – no matter who gets fucked in the process, or how badly.

    • mike says:

      @SuffolkHouse: Your sarcasm aside, your comment actually illustrates that the free market DOES work.

      When people find out about scumbags like this, people won’t sign up for them.

      Regulating may have prevented this company from entering the market but it encourages others to be more crafty.

      Regardless of regulation, free market will ultimately determine profits.

      • SuffolkHouse says:

        @linus:

        Profits? Fuck these profits. These people are producing NO wealth. They are just shifting money around.

        And because of the fear of the unregulated marketplace, people are giving money away to scam-artists like these.

        Go be a sycophant elsewhere.

  2. BeeBoo says:

    The banks are to blame for this as much as everyone else. Banks used to be respectable organizations in classical stone buildings. Now the envelopes they send me have “free gifts” for which I only have to pay “shipping and handling”. These days banks will do anything and sell any service and partner with any shady company in order to make a little money. They don’t care about their reputations.

  3. dougkern says:

    Don’t even get me started on those “Bank of America Privacy Assist” scum bags.

  4. MonkeyMonk says:

    This article makes me want to dig out my old game disc of Autoduel. I used to love that game back in the day. :)

    I think a good rule of thumb is to never accept *anything* on the phone. I always ask for information to be mailed. If they don’t already know my mailing address, well, then that’s too bad. And never utter the word “yes” to even the most innocuous question when on the line with a telemarketer.

  5. lannister80 says:

    Your sarcasm aside, your comment actually illustrates that the free market DOES work.

    Yeah, in the most painful and drawn-out way possible. I guess that’s one definition of “work”…

    • @lannister80:

      What do you think is going on here? We, the participants in the free market, are using a resource, consumerist.com, to spread the word about this egregious behavior. Now, are you likely to call up Intersections Inc. and ask them to sign you up for their “service?” I think not. You have read about their bad practices and can make an informed decision.

      If you involve the government who the hell knows what would happen?

      • mike says:

        @James Sumners: Like I said earlier: It just makes scumbags more creative. ;-)

      • @James Sumners: I think the point was that the credit monitoring services as a whole are completely and utterly useless.

        There are a number of problems with them starting with the fact that there really shouldn’t be a need for it in the first place. Financial institutions have really done almost next to nothing to curtail identity theft and fraud. Credit card companies are the worst. Their “business model” to account for that is to increase fees and interest rates to cover the losses from crime rather than spend adequate amounts of money and effort into developing processes that would prevent the crime from happening in the first place.

        That said, even if I accepted that credit monitoring services could be a valid way of handling identity theft, there still are many problems with them.

        The services are inconvenient to set up and even when they’re offered for “free” it’s usually a 3-month trial that automatically switches to a paid service afterwards unless you call to cancel. The banks are using these services as a revenue generating activity even when their lack of attention to data security has led to harm being caused to their customers.

        • misslisa says:

          @Pixelantes Anonymous: “Financial institutions have really done almost next to nothing to curtail identity theft and fraud.”
          That’s incorrect. Banks are actually spending, well, “bank” to implement systems to prevent this. Financial institutions take ID theft and fraud exteremely seriously because, guess what, they don’t want to lose money either.

          I work in the industry, so I’m a little sensitive about this. I know y’all like to rag on the big “evil” banks, but they’re the ones paying for R&D and implementation of these theft prevention systems that community banks & CUs will eventually benefit from.

          BTW, want to know how to prevent over 75% of all identity theft? Never ever leave your wallet or any financial papers (checks, bank statements, etc.) unattended. That includes friends, relatives, repairmen, your maid, babysitter, etc. The majority of ID theft is committed by family, friends and acquaintances of the victim. Don’t trust a “credit monitoring” company to take care of you – take care of yourself.

          • JusticeDemon says:

            @misslisa:

            Though I’m sure banks and other financial institutions are indeed taking this “very seriously” as you stated, I think we know what that really means.

            Until someone steps up and takes charge of this whole situation we’re out of luck and the free market ‘wins.’

          • Tedicles says:

            @misslisa:

            Well, if they’re paying for all of the supposed R&D I think both they and us are getting REALLY ripped off. My banks have instituted new changes on the online banking services, when I complained they told me it was manditory by law, and nothing they could do.

            I pointed out that I did not feel very secure since they were storing all my passwords (as they now need to be changed everytime almost). “We do not store or keep your passwords” was the exact quote. When I pointed out this was completely false, since if they did not store them, how could they compare and make sure I did not re-use an old password?? “Well…maybe somewhere in the system…” was the awkward response.

            Hmmm….doesn’t take a genius (only a half assed DBA) to figure out that they are storing all kinds of information about you, and they supposedly cannot even choose or control the methods for security!

          • cubsd says:

            @misslisa: If big banks are trying to combat fraud and identity theft, why do they send me unsolicited credit card offers through the mail?

    • Nofsdad says:

      @lannister80: Oh yeah… just look how well it worked for the people caught up in the massive mortgage scams that are, as we speak, either bringing down some of the oldest and biggest financial institutions (Lehman is claimed to be the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the US) in the world or creating a massive public debt that as the government mortgages the future of generations of our descendants to bail out as we bail out the ones that are enjoy the greatest favor drom the FED. And that’s only if we can stop bailing out bank after bank.

      And that’s only one way the financial sector has become a larger “industry” in this country than manufacturing and why it has taken over 21% of our GDP. Every damned busted “bubble” for the past twenty years, beginning with the savings and loan debacle of 1987 can be laid right at the door of the banks and financial institutions who have gone flipping nuts since they were deregulated and whome we’re now having to bail out at the tune of billions of bucks.

      Uh huh, deregulation has sure worked wonderfully for us working class drones. We’ll see what the verdict when the effects that many of us are already living with is when it catch up with you. It is gnawing its way upward into the middle class, you know.

      • mike says:

        @Nofsdad: Free market is a double-edged sword. We shouldn’t have bailed out Freddie/Fanny. Tax-payers shouldn’t bail out anyone.

        I understand why the government stepped in; but at a certian point, companies will continue to expand without checks and balances because they know that daddy government will bail them out.

        Yes, the economy would have become worse. I think it needs to crash so the lesson is learned.

  6. SKURRY says:

    He probably said “I won’t sign up without a copy of the agreement.” The smart-assed csr figured that was an ok to go as long as a copy was sent out. Tricky tricky lawyer perspectives.

  7. kc2idf says:

    Please fix the link at the bottom. It currently links back to this page.

  8. jswilson64 says:

    Sure, they offered a “free” credit report. But did they have a catchy jingle?

  9. ThinkerTDM says:

    By limiting (or even eliminating) government controls on anything, you basically tell businesses to do whatever they want, and they do. They apparently have no concept of self regulation, and it takes government control to slap them when they don’t.

    Also, a “free” market only works when all the parts are equal. When one party in a “free” market has more power than the others (business) it can (and will) manipulate control for its own needs. For example, it doesn’t matter that you are free to buy whatever kind of gas at any price, if they all are the same price, consumers have no control.

  10. rtwigg says:

    Mistake number one: He called up the monitoring company, Intersections Inc.

  11. HFC says:

    Steve Jackson has just announced a new game called Generic Universal Credit Report Monitor. GUCRM is an exciting game system in which you strive to rip off the most “customers” while, at the same time, offer the worst possible customer support.

  12. SpdRacer says:

    I got free monitoring when Old Navy lost a laptop a little over a year ago. I haven’t seen anything in my reports over the last year or so to ever make me want to pay for the service.

  13. ViperBorg says:

    The link comes back to this page.

  14. P_Smith says:

    How interesting that it happened to Steve Jackson.

    He has more experience with data theft than most. Go look up the term “Operation Sundevil” where the US government stole years of work from Jackson’s company under false pretenses (or through just plain incompetence) and cost Jackson millions of dollars.

  15. Ben Popken says:

    link fixed

  16. Fivetop says:

    It’s all a plot that originates with the trilateral commission, carried out by agents of the fiendish fluoridaters with the money being washed through the Boy Sprouts. Next: mind control lasers and the loch ness monster.

  17. jjeefff says:

    I don’t understand – How did they sign him up if he didn’t give his social security number?

    • emjay says:

      @jjeefff:

      The “Free monitoring” offer came in a mailing from his bank and you would presume it would be legit – or as legit as “free gift – just pay shipping”

      Banks in general are making money in so many ways, they figure making some off advertising and what I call “dollars and cents shaving” a la the Wachovia and BoA savings plans that snag your spare change or deposit a dollar into savings are worth a little extra costs in stamps. Banks don’t just do bank stuff anymore – just like insurance companies like AIG are into so many things, the Feds needed to prop them up with all that cash to keep them afloat lest 100k people lose jobs or worldwide industries fail or get hurt without AIG’s backing.