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|Price||LifeLock Junior: $5.99/month|
LifeLock Standard: $8.99/month
LifeLock Advantage: $17.99/month
LifeLock Ultimate Plus: $26.99/month
|Types of Plans||Individual|
|Best For||Individuals interested in a comprehensive identity monitoring and restoration service|
|Standout Features||3-Bureau Credit Monitoring|
Public Record Monitoring
$1 Million Service Guarantee
Reduce Pre-Approved Credit Offers
LifeLock boldly claims it is the best identity theft protection service. It promises to proactively monitor your personal and financial information and alert you of any suspicious activity. If your identity is stolen, LifeLock will work with you to see that it is restored.
Is it True?
Sort of. LifeLock does monitor your personal information and financial accounts to ensure no one else is running up charges in your name, but its only truly comprehensive option is the Ultimate Plus plan, which costs $26.99 per month. Customers that go with LifeLock’s cheaper plans leave much of their financial data unprotected, and those that choose the Standard plan won’t receive credit monitoring at all.
LifeLock also misses a few key features, casting its superiority into doubt. Credit reports are only updated annually, as opposed to quarterly or monthly. It would be nice to see LifeLock match its competitor, Identity Guard, and allow its customers to get more regular updates on their credit reports. LifeLock also lacks a family plan, so you have to pay full price for every member of your household you want to add.
The Federal Trade Commission might also have something to say about LifeLock’s supremacy claim. LifeLock was first cited in March of 2010 for deceptive advertising practices and failing to properly secure customers’ personal information. The company was fined $12 million and ordered to develop more stringent security measures. LifeLock failed to do so, and the FTC again took action in July 2015. This resulted in a $100 million fine.
But all that aside, LifeLock does well when it really counts — after you’ve become a victim of identity theft. You grant the company limited power of attorney, and it will do a lot of the work for you, including setting fraud alerts, contacting banks and financial institutions, settling insurance claims, and obtaining legal representation. The company also offers a $1 million service guarantee, which covers the cost of restoring your identity and reimburses you for stolen funds.
Our Deep Dive
- Not suited to those on a budget: LifeLock’s more affordable plans don’t offer the level of protection most people expect when signing up for an identity protection service. The lack of any kind of financial monitoring on the Standard plan significantly limits its usefulness because consumers won’t know about any unauthorized financial transactions taking place in their name unless they check for themselves.
- Straightforward user interface: You can view your credit scores and recent alerts right from your account dashboard. The tabs at the top of the page give you access to more detailed information about your reports and enable you to add or edit your personal information.
- Mobile access: LifeLock has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. It gives you access to all the same resources as your online account. You can view your alerts and credit score, approve or reject financial transactions and message LifeLock customer service.
- Prompt notifications: If any unusual activity is detected on your accounts, LifeLock will notify you via email, phone, or text, depending on which you choose. If it’s a financial transaction in question, you can approve or reject it right away.
- Infrequent credit report updates: LifeLock only gives you access to one set of credit reports per year. Some of its competitors give their customers updated reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, enabling them to spot inaccuracies more quickly than they could with yearly reports. Of course, every citizen is entitled by law to one free credit report from each bureau per year, so LifeLock customers could use these to keep a closer eye on their creditworthiness.
- Reduce exposure of your information: LifeLock’s Privacy Monitor tool helps limit the exposure of your personal information, making it harder for identity thieves to get hold of it.
- Stop pre-approved credit offers: LifeLock will remove your name from pre-approved credit card mailing lists. These credit card offers are targets for identity thieves, who fill out your discarded application and open the card in your name.
- Lost wallet protection: If your wallet is lost or stolen, LifeLock will assist you in canceling and replacing credit cards and driver’s licenses before they can be used by a thief.
- $1 million service guarantee: If your identity is stolen, LifeLock will cover the costs associated with restoring your identity up to $1 million. This includes loss of income, travel costs, replacing documents, child care, and more. LifeLock also reimburses you for stolen funds up to your policy’s limit.
LifeLock’s plans range from $98.90 to $296.90 per individual, per year. You receive an 8% discount if you agree to pay annually. Most people’s costs are going to lean toward the high end of that spectrum because the Standard and Advantage plans have sizeable gaps in their protection. LifeLock also offers child identity theft protection for $5.99 per month. Children are often targets for identity theft because they don’t have a credit history and the fraud can go undetected for years.
LifeLock isn’t recommended for families, though, because the costs add up quickly. Complete identity protection for a family of four will cost you $725.78 per year. Compare that to Identity Guard’s Family plan, which costs just $359.88 per year. That’s a savings of $365.90. Though LifeLock’s identity restoration services are superior to Identity Guard’s, few will be able to justify spending an extra $365 per year for this.
Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives
There’s no real need to purchase identity theft protection. Most of the services LifeLock offers — credit reports, bank account monitoring, fraud alerts, etc. — you can do on your own. The usefulness of an identity theft protection service depends on how highly you value convenience. What LifeLock saves, even more than your identity, is time. You don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on your bank accounts or contacting your credit card company to dispute a fraudulent charge because LifeLock will do that for you.
But as I mentioned above, that convenience carries a high price tag. If you’d rather save your money and monitor your identity yourself, give these things a shot:
- Monitor your credit cards and bank accounts. Regularly check your balance and account history to make sure there aren’t any fraudulent charges. If any appear, contact the company immediately.
- Check your credit reports. Every U.S. citizen is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can view them all at once, or space them out throughout the year if you’d like to keep a closer eye on them.
- Opt out of credit offers. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com to remove your name from the list of pre-approved credit offer recipients for five years.
- Shred junk mail. This is often a target for identity thieves because it contains your personal information.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Don’t click links in an email claiming to be from your bank. It could be a phisher, trying to direct you to a false website to steal your personal information. Always type in the web address so you know you’re going to the correct site.
- Add a fraud alert. If your identity is stolen, contact the credit bureaus and add a fraud alert. This will notify lenders of the issue and they will take additional steps to ensure they’re dealing with the right person before approving any transactions or opening a new account.
- Place a security freeze on your account. A security freeze prevents lenders from being able to view your credit reports at all, which should prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. To add a security freeze, you must write to each of the three credit bureaus and you may also have to pay a small fee.
- IdentityForce: IdentityForce offers the UltraSecure+Credit comprehensive identity monitoring package for $19.99 per month or $199.90 annually. Those who prefer to monitor their own credit can choose the cheaper UltraSecure plan for $9.99 per month or $99.90 annually. If you sign up for the annual plan you get two months for free. IdentityForce gives no discounts to couples or families, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking to protect multiple people in your household.
- Identity Guard: Identity Guard’s service is less comprehensive than LifeLock’s or IdentityForce’s. You can’t monitor your driver’s license number, and it won’t do any of the restoration work for you after your identity has been stolen. However, it offers monthly credit report updates and great deals for couples and families.
- Trusted ID: TrustedID offers individual and family plans for $16.99 and $29.99 per month, respectively. These prices are pretty affordable compared to the other companies on this list, but its personal information monitoring is not as strong. It doesn’t monitor for changes of address or scan court records, so some types of identity theft may be missed.
What Others Are Saying
- PCMag praised LifeLock for its comprehensive monitoring, but expressed disappointment with its lackluster website and high cost for families. Its overall verdict was positive: “The service watches over just about every aspect of your digital life, and makes itself available for questions and emergencies at all hours of the day. When your identity is on the line, that’s the kind of assurance that counts.”
- Consumer Reports investigated LifeLock’s usefulness and highlighted its limitations in actually protecting your identity: “You might conclude that LifeLock somehow intervenes to shut down sites that sell identities. In fact, when LifeLock discovers its members’ data for sale, the only thing it says it will do is ‘notify you,’ according to the 5,808 words in its terms and conditions of service.”
- Wired summarized LifeLock’s legal troubles over the past few years, explaining how it failed to protect its customers’ data: “The company failed to apply critical security patches and updates to its network and ‘failed to employ sufficient measures’ to detect and prevent unauthorized access to its network, ‘such as by installing antivirus or antispyware programs on computers used by employees to remotely access the network or regularly recording and reviewing activity on the network,’ the FTC found.”
- USA Today picked up an interesting story about a woman whose activities were being tracked by her ex-husband through a fraudulent LifeLock account. When the woman contacted LifeLock, she had difficulty getting their assistance to remedy the problem: “They didn’t listen to me. It’s almost like they didn’t believe me…They did not want to admit what they’d done. Since they are an identity-protection company, it was not in their best interest to admit my identity wasn’t protected. They tried to shift the blame to me.”