LifeLock to pay $100 million to settle FTC contempt charges

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a settlement with LifeLock.

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a settlement with LifeLock.

LifeLock will pay $100 million to settle Federal Trade Commission contempt charges that it violated the terms of a 2010 federal court order that requires the company to secure consumers’ personal information and prohibits the company from deceptive advertising, the FTC said Thursday.

It’s the  largest monetary award ever obtained by the Commission in an order enforcement action.

“This settlement demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to enforcing the orders it has in place against companies, including orders requiring reasonable security for consumer data,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The fact that consumers paid Lifelock for help in protecting their sensitive personal information makes the charges in this case particularly troubling.”

The FTC’s filing in the case alleged that LifeLock violated four components of the 2010 order. First, the FTC alleged that from at least October 2012 through March 2014, LifeLock failed to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program to protect users’ sensitive personal information including their social security, credit card and bank account numbers.

Second, the filing alleged that during this period LifeLock falsely advertised that it protected consumers’ sensitive data with the same high-level safeguards used by financial institutions. Third, the FTC alleged that, from January 2012 through December 2014, LifeLock falsely advertised  that it would send alerts “as soon as” it received any indication that a consumer may be a victim of identity theft. Finally, the FTC alleged that the company failed to abide by the order’s recordkeeping requirements.

Under the terms of the settlement, LifeLock must deposit $100 million into the registry of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Of that $100 million, $68 million may be used to redress fees paid to LifeLock by class action consumers who were allegedly injured by the same behavior alleged by the FTC. These funds, however, must be paid directly to and received by consumers, and may not be used for any administrative or legal costs associated with the class action.

Any money not received by consumers in the class action settlement or through settlements between LifeLock and state attorneys general will be provided to the FTC for use in further consumer redress.

In addition to the settlement’s monetary provisions, recordkeeping provisions similar to those in the 2010 order have been extended to 13 years from the date of the original order.

The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 3-1, with Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen voting no. The Commission issued a statement. Commissioner Ohlhausen issued a dissenting statement. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Once approved by the courts, the settlement will help bring to a close outstanding litigation with both the FTC and representatives of a national class of consumers relating to past marketing representations and information security programs.

As a part of the settlement, LifeLock neither confirms nor denies the allegations of the parties.

The company made the following statement Thursday:

“The FTC’s approval is a key component of a comprehensive settlement designed to enable LifeLock to move forward with a singular focus on protecting our members from threats to their identity. Our members are our highest priority and we are gratified by their confidence in us, reflected in the performance and continued growth of our business.

“The allegations raised by the FTC are related to advertisements that we no longer run and policies that are no longer in place. The settlement does not require us to change any of our current products or practices. Furthermore, there is no evidence that LifeLock has ever had any of its customers’ data stolen, and the FTC did not allege otherwise.

 “As part of our commitment to continual improvement, in recent years we have made significant investments in our people, process and systems throughout the company to address ever more complex and pervasive identity threats. We are pleased to put this matter behind us and look forward to continuing to provide industry-leading identity protection services to our members.”

 

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