LifeLock offers rock-solid comprehensive monitoring of your personal information and, if you become a victim of fraud, it can assume power of attorney and mitigate the stress and pain of restoring your identity. But run-ins with the Federal Trade Commission over deceptive trade practices and failing to protect customers' data resulted in multimillion-dollar fines — which should give any consumer pause.
Against the threat of identity theft, LifeLock boldly promises to be better than anyone at prevention and recovery. It monitors all your personal and financial information, alerts you of suspicious activity, and — in the unfortunate event that your identity is stolen — LifeLock will spring into action to mitigate the damage and restore it.
Three identity protection packages monitor and protect an escalating range of your personal and financial information. But the only truly comprehensive option is the top-tier Ultimate Plus plan ($26.99 per month). Customers who opt for LifeLock’s less expensive plans leave much of their financial data unprotected; if you choose the affordable Standard plan, you’ll miss out on credit monitoring, which most experts consider essential.
LifeLock offers comprehensive credit and identity monitoring, but its legal woes and expense may drive away some consumers.
LifeLock does its best work when the worst happens. Identity restoration specialists can do most of the legwork of reclaiming your identity on your behalf. This cuts down on time and stress, but it also gets pricey if you’re planning on protecting multiple members of a family. Some companies, like Identity Guard, offer discounted family plans. LifeLock doesn’t.
But there’s a bigger buyer-beware complaint. Over the last six years, several lawsuits have been levied against LifeLock for employing deceptive advertising and, more troublingly, failing to adequately protect customers’ information. The Federal Trade Commission fined LifeLock $12 million in March of 2010 for deceptive advertising practices and failing to properly secure customers’ personal information. Even after being ordered by the FTC to develop more stringent security measures, LifeLock neglected to do so, and in July 2015 the FTC fined them again — this time for $100 million. That’s a major blow for any company claiming to be the best at identity theft protection.
LifeLock also slips by skipping a few essential features. Its credit reports get updated annually instead of quarterly or monthly; competitors like Identity Guard enable customers to get credit report updates with higher frequency.
Despite these serious concerns, LifeLock makes good on its promises to come to your aid after you’ve become a victim of identity theft. Once you grant the company limited power of attorney, LifeLock can tackle the complicated drudgery of setting fraud alerts, contacting banks and financial institutions, settling insurance claims, and obtaining legal representation. The company also provides a generous $1 million service guarantee, which both covers the cost of restoring your identity and reimburses you for any stolen funds.
A Closer Look At Features
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 who will spare no expense for the most comprehensive identity monitoring and restoration service|
|Not For||Families, couples, or people on a budget|
- $1 million service guarantee: LifeLock covers costs associated with restoring your identity up to $1 million. This benefit includes lost income, travel expenses, replacing lost documents, child care, and more. LifeLock also reimburses you for stolen funds up to your policy’s limit.
- Block pre-approved credit offers: Here’s a nice quality-of-life benefit: LifeLock can help you opt out of pre-approved credit card mailing lists, which are common targets for identity thieves who open the credit card in your name after you’ve discarded the offer.
- Easy user interface: View your credit scores and monitor alerts right from an account dashboard. Tabs give you access to more details and enable you to quickly edit personal information.
- Prompt notifications: LifeLock notifies you via email, phone, or text (your choice) the minute it detects anomalous or suspect usage. Financial transactions can be approved or rejected immediately.
- Lost wallet protection: Lose your wallet? LifeLock can cancel and replace credit cards and identification like driver’s licenses before a thief abuses them.
- Mobile: Apps for iOS and Android devices provide access to all your resources. You can view your alerts and credit score, approve or reject financial transactions, and message customer service.
- Privacy Monitor Tool: This tool helps limit the exposure of your personal information online.
- Infrequent credit report updates: LifeLock only gives one set of credit reports per year. Some competitors offer updated reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, enabling them rapidly spot inaccuracies. (You can always get one free credit report from each bureau per year yourself.)
- Not budget-friendly: LifeLock’s plans range from $98.90 to $296.90 per individual, per year — but the low-cost plans don’t cover enough of the basics. Though LifeLock’s identity restoration services are better than Identity Guard’s, Lifelock costs an extra $365 per year.
What Others Are Saying
Wired neatly summarized LifeLock’s recent legal woes, explaining how it dropped the ball on customer 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.”
PCMag praised LifeLock for its comprehensive monitoring, but dinged them for a lackluster website and its high cost for families. The end 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.”
USA Today relayed the story of a woman whose activities were being tracked by her ex-husband through a fraudulent LifeLock account. When the woman contacted LifeLock, she had a hard time getting help: “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.”
Consumer Reports investigated LifeLock and flagged its limitations: “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.”
Other Identity Theft Protection Services We Like
ID Watchdog’s interface is nothing to write home about, but customer service and price are best-in-class: The top-tier Platinum plan is more affordable than any other premium service ($18/month online or $194/year if you call). Couples pay $27/month ($291/year) for two adults, and families pay $32/month ($349/year) for two adults and up to five kids. Plus it offers one big bonus no one else does: Rehabilitation for pre-existing theft. If your identity’s been stolen before enrolling in ID Watchdog, it will still work after the fact to recover it.
IdentityForce provides comprehensive identity monitoring packages through its UltraSecure plan for $17.95 per month; add credit monitoring for $6 per month. There are no discounts for couples or families, though.
Identity Guard’s service isn’t as comprehensive as LifeLock’s or IdentityForce’s, you can’t monitor driver’s licenses, and it doesn’t offer ID restoration help. It does offer monthly credit reports and discounts for families and couples.
How To Go DIY On Identity Theft Protection
If you are diligent and organized, you can manage identity theft protection on your own. LifeLock and other identity theft protection services mostly add value with convenience: They cut the time and hassle out of monitoring or restoring a stolen identity. Keeping tabs on bank accounts, contacting credit card companies to dispute a fraudulent charges, etc. — LifeLock does it all for you.
But convenience comes at a high cost. If you plan to go the DIY route, here’s how to get started:
- Shred your junk mail. Often loaded with personal information, junk mail is an easy target for identity thieves. A simple shredder can render it useless.
- Watch out for phishing scams. If you get an email from your bank, never click through the in-email links. Phishers attempt to trick you to disguised websites in an effort to steal personal and account information. Always type your bank’s web address in the browser bar to ensure you are visiting a real site.
Watch credit cards and bank accounts closely. Follow your balance and account history looking for odd and potentially fraudulent charges.
Opt out of pre-approved credit offers. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com to get your name dropped from the list of offer recipients for five years.
Check your credit reports. All U.S. citizens are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can check them all at once or at your leisure throughout the year.
Employ a Security Freeze. 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. Adding a security freeze to any credit account requires a letter sent to all three credit bureaus; some states also require a small fee.
Add a fraud alert. If your identity is stolen, contact the credit bureaus and add a fraud alert. This will alert lenders to the problem so they can launch additional security measures before opening accounts or approving transactions in your name.
The Bottom Line
Despite troubling legal issues, LifeLock still offers one of the most comprehensive identity monitoring solutions available. Individuals might find it worth the high price of entry, but families and couples may want to look elsewhere for discounts.