Should you Pay for LifeLock when you can Prevent & Monitor Identity Theft for Free? A Lifelock Review
A Lifelock Review:
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 August, 2016.
Before signing up for LifeLock (that link offers 10% off and 30 days risk-free), 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: LifeLock Identity Alert System
“It’s the foundation for all LifeLock services. We send alerts through the patented LifeLock Identity Alert system by text, phone, or email* and our Identity Restoration Specialists are there to help.”
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
“Pre-approved credit card offers can provide important information to identity thieves. LifeLock will request your name be removed from many pre-approved credit card mailing lists.”
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:
“Secure online access to your annual credit report from a major credit bureau so you can see details of your credit history.
Online access to your annual credit score from a major credit bureau. Includes top factors used to determine your score so you’ll better understand how lenders evaluate 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 sell personal information on black market websites around the world. LifeLock patrols over 10,000 criminal websites and notifies you if we ﬁnd your data.”
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.
Benefit Claim: Lost Wallet Protection
“A lost wallet can mean a lost identity. Call us if your wallet is lost or stolen and we’ll help cancel or replace credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards and more.”
Free DIY Alternative? Yes and no. 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: Address Change Verification
“Identity thieves try to divert mail to get important financial information. LifeLock lets you know of changes in address requests linked to your identity.”
Free DIY Alternative? Yes. Address changes should show in your credit reports, and if you have credit monitoring, you should be alerted. Credit Karma is a good one for this.
Benefit Claim: The famous “$1 Million Total Service Guarantee”
“If you become a victim of identity theft while a LifeLock member, we’ll spend up to $1 million to hire the necessary lawyers, accountants and investigators to help your recovery. Under the Service Guarantee LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery. Under the Stolen Funds Replacement, LifeLock will reimburse stolen funds up to $25,000 for Standard membership, up to $100,000 for advantage membership and up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus membership. Please see the policy for terms, conditions and exclusions at LifeLock.com/legal“
LifeLock also claims, that as part of their coverage, you will be reimbursed for certain out-of-pocket costs and expenses in the following categories:
- Cost of Replacing Documents.
- Traveling Expenses.
- Loss of Income.
- Stolen Handbag, Purse, or Wallet.
- Childcare and Elderly Care.
- Travel Assistance.
- Fraudulent Withdrawals.
- Legal Costs.
- Remediation Services Costs.
- Case Management Services Costs.
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.
Benefit Claim: Stolen Funds Replacement
“If you’re ever a victim of identity theft, LifeLock protects your hard earned money with dollar for dollar reimbursement for lost funds up to $25,000. This includes everything from fraudulent bank and investment account withdrawals to tax returns filed in your name. “
DIY Alternative: Not that I am aware of.
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). There are some benefits that come in handy that you cannot get otherwise. And 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 risk-free and 10% off membership here (discount shows up when you go to cart).