Should you Pay for LifeLock when you can Prevent & Monitor Identity Theft for Free? A Lifelock Review
A Lifelock Review: Is Lifelock Worth the Money?
You probably have heard of LifeLock. Way back in 2008, I reviewed LifeLock for the first time. The service has changed quite a bit since then and I have revised this review as recently as January, 2015.
Before signing up for LifeLock, you must realize what you’re paying for. There are plenty of solid ways to protect yourself from identity theft that are absolutely, 100% free and legit. In many ways these free identity protection measures go above and beyond the paid services, such as Lifelock, that are out there. Let’s take a look at what Lifelock will do for you (for $9.99 per month for its “Standard” plan, with pricier higher service “Advantage” and “Ultimate Plus” plans also available), and whether you can achieve the same results for free on your own.
Benefit Claim: Identity Threat Detection and Alerts
Stolen identity information is used to apply for credit cards, wireless services, retail credit, utilities, mortgages or auto and payday loans. LifeLock actively monitors applications within an extensive network for attempts to use your personal information. Whenever suspicious activity is detected, you will receive an alert via email or phone.
Free DIY Alternative? Yes. You can go to any of the three credit bureaus and request fraud alerts of varying lengths. You only have to do this with one bureau and they will notify the rest. Here’s the link to Experian’s fraud alert. Also, Credit Karma now offers free credit monitoring.
Benefit Claim: Reduced Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
LifeLock requests that your name be removed from many pre-approved credit card mailing lists, an important information source for identity thieves.
Free DIY Alternative? Yes. In this case, you can do this for free at the official website created by the credit bureaus to opt out at optoutprescreen.com.
Benefit Claim: Credit Reports and Credit Score Access
The “Advantage” (1 credit bureau) and “Ultimate Plus” (3 credit bureaus) plans offer:
You’ll get online access to an annual credit report from a major credit bureau so you can see details of your credit history.
Receive online access to an annual credit score from a major credit bureau, including a list of top factors used to determine your score. You’ll better understand how lenders determine your credit worthiness.
Free DIY Alternative? Yes. You can do this on your own for free at annualcreditreport.com and Credit Karma. See my post on how to take advantage of this – ‘Smart Planning will get you 3 Free Credit Reports Per Year’. More recently, Credit Karma began offering free access to TransUnion credit reports, at any time.
Benefit Claim: Black Market Website Surveillance
Identity thieves illegally buy, sell and trade personal information on black market Internet sites around the world. LifeLock patrols over 10,000 criminal websites and notifies you if your private data is found.
Free DIY Alternative? No. I don’t know that there is a free alternative to this benefit. I do know that credit monitoring services will alert you if your information is improperly used (or attempted to be used) and maybe that is enough. I suppose it would also be helpful to know proactively if your information is out there. If it is out there, however, you have to think that it will be used prior to LifeLock finding out it is out there and notifying you.
Benefit Claim: Lost Wallet Protection
A lost or stolen wallet can leave you stranded. If your wallet goes missing, just call – anytime, anywhere – and LifeLock will help cancel or replace the contents, helping you stop fraudulent charges so you can get back on your way. Coverage includes: credit and debit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards, checkbooks and travelers checks (pictures, cash and cash equivalents excluded).
Free DIY Alternative? Probably. These all seem like things you can do on your own with a few phone calls (this would be a good time to recommend that you keep a list of everything in your wallet, along with service phone numbers). The benefit summary does say that LifeLock will cover “Up to $2,000 per Stolen Identity Event” in document replacement costs – which could be a nice benefit.
Benefit Claim: The famous “$1 Million Total Service Guarantee”
As a LifeLock member, if you become a victim of identity theft, LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery… We’re confident in our ability to help protect your identity, but no one can prevent all identity theft. If you become a victim of identity theft while a LifeLock member, we’ll spend up to $1 million to hire experts, lawyers, investigators, consultants and whomever else it takes to help your recovery. Benefits under the Service Guarantee are provided under a zero deductible identity theft insurance policy.
The finer print is here.
LifeLock claims, that as part of their coverage, you will receive:
- Award-winning Member Services agents available to help 24/7/365
- A dedicated Resolution Specialist to serve as your single point of contact to handle your case step by step
- Third-party recovery experts if necessary (lawyers or investigators)
- A full explanation of your rights and what to expect during the recovery process
- Follow-up after your case has been resolved to help make sure your identity has been recovered to your full satisfaction
Free DIY Alternative? No. It’s hard to determine how much this is all worth and whether you actually need it or not. If this gives you some peace of mind, then it might be worth the cost.
The bottom line is that Lifelock is not a scam, it’s just that you can do some of what they do for free, with effort and discipline (to keep doing it periodically). Lifelock seems worth it if you have the attitude “well, I could do this stuff for free, but I don’t want the hassle, and I’ll probably forget, so I’ll just let someone else handle it for a small price”. You’re basically paying for peace of mind and to set it and forget it plus some other benefits you can’t get elsewhere. If you find it’s not worth the fee, you can always cancel! If you’re interested in Lifelock you might as well get a free trial and discount on the subscription price – you can get 30 days free and 10% off membership here (discount shows up when you go to cart).
- Are you willing to pay for LifeLock?
- Have you tried LifeLock? Was it worth it?