How We Reviewed LifeLock
1 claim investigated
3 monitoring services compared
7 features evaluated
While no identity theft protection service can actually prevent theft, LifeLock is one of only a few companies to offer the next best thing: monitoring and restoration services. LifeLock's Ultimate Plus plan tracks your credit scores, your banking info, and whether your personal details show up online, looking for signs of fraudulent activity. If LifeLock detects a potentially suspicious use of your personal information, it alerts you via app, email, text, or phone (during regular business hours). Most importantly, if the worst happens and your identity is compromised, LifeLock takes on the heavy lifting — contacting merchants, credit bureaus, and financial institutions on your behalf so that you can get your life back on track as quickly as possible.
The LifeLock website walks you through just how the service helps to protect and restore your identity. “LifeLock looks for use of your personal information, and with proprietary technology, alerts you to a wide range of potential threats to your identity … If you become a victim of identity theft, a U.S.-based Identity Restoration Specialist will be dedicated to your case from start to finish. And from the moment you download Norton Security, a Norton expert is available to help keep your devices virus-free.”
Is it true?
LifeLock monitors your personal and financial information, alerts you to potentially suspicious activity, and — in the unfortunate event that your identity is stolen — springs into action to mitigate the damage. The company stands out for four reasons:
- LifeLock Identity Alert System: LifeLock tracks whether your personal information is being used to open payday loans, credit applications, and utility services — which otherwise may not show up on your credit report until they go to collections.
- Multiple means of communication: LifeLock makes it easy for you to stay apprised of any changes, with 24/7 email and text notifications in addition to phone availability during regular business hours.
- Takes on the brunt of restoration: If you become a victim of identity theft, a LifeLock specialist will help resolve the issue. You can also sign a Limited Power of Attorney to allow LifeLock to work with merchants, credit bureaus, and financial institutions on your behalf throughout the restoration process.
- Tri-bureau credit monitoring: LifeLock's Ultimate Plus plan monitors all three major credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to monitor your credit scores for fraudulent applications.
“Having LifeLock constantly monitor statements, credit reports, and other financial accounts is the fastest way to spot suspicious activity, which means that if the worst happens you will get the help you need to deal with it and recover as quickly and effectively as possible.”
LifeLock’s mobile app is also extremely easy to use, with an equally user-friendly website portal. In short? The company follows through on its promise to make identity theft protection as comprehensive as possible.
- In business since: 2005
- Services: Identity theft protection and restoration, credit monitoring, device security
- Price: $11.99-$34.99/mo.
- Add-on protection for kids: $5.99/mo. per child
- Reimbursement amounts: $25,000-$1,000,000
- Alerts: Text, email, mobile app
Multiple service tiers
Only LifeLock’s highest service tier – the $35 per month LifeLock Ultimate Plus ($30 per month for the first year) — met all of our requirements when we looked for the best identity theft protection service. However, LifeLock also offers a Standard Plan ($12 per month, $10 per month for the first year), a Select Plan ($15 per month, $10 per month for the first year), and an Advantage Plan ($25 per month, $20 per month for the first year), which come with less detailed monitoring and a smaller funds reimbursement package. You can also help protect your children with LifeLock’s Junior plan ($6 per month or $66 annually), an add-on service that allows you to monitor any threats to their identity.
Million Dollar Protection Package
If you become a victim of identity theft, LifeLock helps protect you with its Million Dollar Protection Package. This package provides reimbursement for stolen funds and coverage for personal expenses, each with limits of up to $25,000, $100,000, or $1 million depending on your plan. It also includes coverage for lawyers and experts, up to $1 million, to help resolve your case. For full details, see LifeLock's website.
Fewer preapproved credit offers
Preapproved credit card offers can provide important information to identity thieves, who attempt to open credit cards in your name after you've discarded the offer. LifeLock will request that your name be removed from many preapproved credit card mailing lists.
LifeLock Privacy Monitor
Privacy Monitor helps reduce public exposure of your personal information by scanning common public people-search websites to find your personal information and help you opt out.
Less robust cheaper plans
If you aren’t willing to spend $35 per month for identity protection, LifeLock’s lower-tier plans aren’t really worth it. What you save month-to-month would be lost if you were in need of identity theft protection services with tri-bureau reporting, online monitoring, alerts, and legal support.
Costs extra to resolve preexisting theft
If you have already been a victim of identity theft at the time that you sign up for a LifeLock plan, the company’s legal assistance won’t kick into action without your paying a surcharge. If you are confident that your record is presently secure, LifeLock will protect you from here on out. Not sure? LifeLock may cost you more than the ticket price before it becomes effective.
Infrequent credit report updates
While LifeLock will update you immediately about potentially suspicious changes to your credit score, the company only gives you access to one set of credit reports per year. Some competitors offer updated reports on a monthly or quarterly basis. But if you want to keep closer tabs on this info, you can always get one free annual credit report yourself from each bureau.
LifeLock vs. IdentityForce
IdentityForce offers monitoring and restoration services comparable to LifeLock, with one notable difference. Its app is not as convenient as LifeLock’s – you can see alerts through the app, but you’ll have to call customer service or switch over to a desktop to respond to them. We also don’t like how you can’t contact customer service through the app: If you see an alert, you have to hop on the phone to ask IdentityForce about it. In exchange, however, IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit plan (comparable to LifeLock’s Ultimate Plus) costs about $17 less at $17 per month.
LifeLock vs. ID Watchdog
ID Watchdog doesn’t offer much in the way of mobile support: It has an app, but you’ll have to call customer support to actually resolve issues. We also found ID Watchdog’s online portal more confusing and difficult to navigate than LifeLock’s. However, ID Watchdog has two potential advantages. For one, its Platinum plan costs less at $20 per month. It also offers rehabilitation for preexisting theft (for an additional fee). LifeLock and IdentityForce both require you to discover theft during your membership in order to take advantage of their restoration services, but ID Watchdog’s “ID Rehab for Previously-Existing Conditions” charges a lower fee for each preexisting record error that needs to be corrected. If you discover additional theft during your enrollment, your restoration will be covered under your regular subscription (no additional fees necessary). While the charges might add up, they’ll probably be less expensive (and less hassle) than fighting to change the records yourself.
What does identity theft insurance cover?
Million-dollar insurance policies like the one LifeLock offers are actually an industry standard, but the money isn’t intended to cover lost funds. Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), fraudulent debt is wiped from your record. What the coverage amount can pay for are legal fees, lost wages, and expenses associated with your identity recovery efforts, like child care and travel costs. Be aware that the timespan for charging these things to your insurance benefit depends on the expense category and that the benefit amount itself depends on the size of your chosen plan.
Do I have to get an identity theft protection service in order to guard my identity?
Identity theft protection boils down to monitoring and restitution. You can do both yourself for free, but doing it yourself also takes time. If you have the patience to hack your own identity protection, here are the steps to take.
- Visit the federal government’s restitution website, IdentityTheft.gov
- Request your free annual report from each of the three credit bureaus
- Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file. It’s free and lets lenders know to verify your identity before opening accounts in your name
“If anything ever does happen where you need help with identity theft, [LifeLock] has your back. However, you can do all of this yourself. It is amazing to outsource all of that, but if you can’t afford it, you don’t need to. All you have to do is frequently check your credit accounts and read all of your statements. Most financial institutions allow you to receive a text message any time anything is ever purchased with your account.”
If you believe that your identity has already been compromised, lock your credit reports with a credit freeze. That action will run you $5 to $10, but it effectively prevents anyone from viewing (and using) your files.
Can I just monitor my credit?
If you are more concerned with beefing up your credit history than protecting it from attack, check out our favorite credit report services or read our tips on how to DIY that financial step. Keeping a sharp eye on your score is a bit like weighing yourself every morning: perhaps not pleasant at first, but a tried and true method of making sure the digits swing in the direction you want them to.