Many years ago, I gave my first LifeLock review. The LifeLock service has changed quite a bit since then, with multiple offering expansions, and then getting purchased by identity and computer security giant Norton Symantec. I have updated this LifeLock review periodically and as recently as 2023 in order to keep up with the changes.
Before signing up for LifeLock (fyi for those interested, this partner link offers the best price I’ve ever seen with up to 25% off for the first year), it’s important to understand what you’re paying for and my goal with this review is to present a full picture of all LifeLock features so that you can make a fully informed decision on if LifeLock is worth it for you. There are many ways to protect yourself from identity theft that are free, but they do take some effort. In some ways these free identity protection measures can go above and beyond the paid services that are available. In other ways, they fall short, and in order to keep up with paid services, it can take a lot of manual work on your part.
In this LifeLock review, let’s take a look at what LifeLock has to offer for $8.99 per month for its discounted “Standard” plan in addition to the pricier higher service “Advantage” and “Ultimate Plus” plans as noted below, and whether you can achieve the same results for free on your own. I’ll go through each LifeLock feature benefit claim and let you know if there are free alternatives.
Feature Benefit: LifeLock Identity Alert System, One-Bureau Credit Monitoring, & Identity Restoration Support
LifeLock Identity Alert System: “It’s the foundation for all LifeLock services. We monitor for fraudulent use of your Social Security number, name, address, or date of birth in applications for credit and services. The patented system sends alerts by text, phone‡‡, email, or mobile app.”
One-Bureau Credit Monitoring: “We monitor key changes to your credit file at a leading credit bureau and alert you to help detect fraud.”
U.S. Based Restoration Support: “If your identity is compromised, an Identity Restoration Specialist will personally handle your case and help restore your identity.
Free Alternative? Partially. You can go to any of the 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request fraud alerts of varying lengths. You only have to do this with one bureau and they will notify the others. Here’s the link to Experian’s fraud alert. Also, Credit Karma offers free credit monitoring alerts. The value-add here is the “U.S. Based Restoration Specialists” that can help if a problem is detected. Having someone to guide you through an issue, once detected, could be valuable.
Feature Benefit: Dark Web Monitoring
“Identity thieves can sell your personal information on hard-to-find dark websites and forums. LifeLock patrols the dark web and notifies you if we find your information.”
Free Alternative? No. I am not aware of 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 on the “dark web”.
Feature Benefit: LifeLock Privacy Monitor™
“Privacy Monitor helps reduce public exposure of your personal information. We scan common public people-search websites for your personal information and help you opt-out, giving you peace of mind and greater control over your online privacy.”
Free Alternative? Partially. You can opt out of pre-approved credit card offers at optoutprescreen.com. Beyond that, it’s difficult to determine how far and to what extent the privacy monitoring benefit goes, given that it appears to be a proprietary technology.
Feature Benefit: Credit Reports and Scores
The “Standard” plan does not offer credit reports and scores.
The “Advantage” plan offers:
Monthly One-Bureau Credit Report & Scores
The credit score provided is a VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on Equifax data. Third parties use many different types of credit scores and are likely to use a different type of credit score to assess your creditworthiness.
The “Ultimate Plan offers:
Credit Reports and Scores, Daily: One-Bureau, Annual: Three-Bureaus
The credit scores provided are VantageScore 3.0 credit scores based on data from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion respectively. Third parties use many different types of credit scores and are likely to use a different type of credit score to assess your creditworthiness.
Free Alternative? Yes. You can do this on your own for free at annualcreditreport.com (scores) and Credit Karma (scores and reports). See my articles “Smart Planning will get you 3 Free Credit Reports Per Year” and “Credit Karma Now Offers Free Credit Report Access!” on how to take advantage of this.
Feature Benefit: Stolen Wallet Protection
“A stolen wallet could mean a stolen identity. Call us if your wallet is stolen and we’ll help cancel or replace credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance cards and more.”
Free Alternative? Partially. 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 $25,000 per Member Per Annum (Maximum of $500 for replacement of stolen cash” (Standard) in document replacement costs – which could be a nice benefit. “Advantage” is up to $100,000, and “Ultimate Plus” is up to $1,000,000.
Feature Benefit: USPS Address Change Verification
“Identity thieves try to divert mail to get important financial information. LifeLock lets you know of address change requests at the U.S. Postal Service linked to your identity.”
Free 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. Additionally, you could set up USPS Informed Delivery.
Feature Benefit: Coverage for Lawyers and Experts
“If you become a victim of identity theft while a LifeLock member, we will provide the necessary lawyers and experts if needed to help resolve your case, up to $1 million.”
This could include reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket costs and expenses in the following categories:
- Replacement of Documents
- Traveling Expenses
- Loss of Income
- Stolen Handbag, Purse, or Wallet
- Childcare and Elderly Care
- Travel Assistance
- Arrest Related Expenses
- Fraudulent Withdrawals
- Legal Costs
- Remediation Services Costs
- Case Management Services Costs
Free Alternative? No. It’s hard to determine how much this is all worth, but if this gives you some peace of mind, then it might be worth the cost.
Feature Benefit: Stolen Funds Reimbursement
“If you have money stolen due to identity theft, LifeLock will reimburse you dollar for dollar-up to $25,000, up to $100,000, or up to $1 million-based on the limits of your plan.”
Note: $25,000 is for the “Standard” plan, $100,000 is for the “Advantage” plan, and $1,000,000 is for the “Ultimate Plus” plan.
Free Alternative? Not that I am aware of.
Added LifeLock “Advantage” Plan Benefits Review:
The middle-tier “Advantage” plan ($17.99/month, after discount) adds the following benefits to the Standard plan benefits above.
- Identity Lock: TransUnion Credit File Lock and Payday Loan Lock: TransUnion typically charges $24.95/month alone for their credit “lock” service. Credit “freezes” are free (see my credit lock vs credit freeze article).
- Phone Takeover Monitoring: I’m not aware of another monitoring service here, but each phone service provider should have safeguards in place. If someone has taken over your phone number, reach out to your service provider ASAP.
- Bank Account & Credit Card Activity Alerts: banks and credit card issuers have all kinds of alerts in place. The key benefit here would be consolidating across multiple accounts.
- Court Records Scanning: if you’ve committed a crime, you’re probably keenly aware of it. I think the value here would be if someone stole your identity and was then convicted of a crime. I’m not aware of another service that does this.
- Monthly One-Bureau Credit Report & Scores: you can do this for free as highlighted above.
- Data Breach Notifications: Credit Karma does this for free.
- Up to $100,000 Stolen Funds Reimbursement and Personal Expense Compensation (vs $25,000 for Standard): increased perk not available elsewhere.
- Fictitious Identity Monitoring: credit reports should do this, to some extent, but you’ll have to actively monitor.
Added LifeLock “Ultimate Plus” Plan Benefits Review:
The top-tier “Ultimate Plus” plan ($23.99/month, after discount) adds the following benefits to the Standard plan benefits and the Advantage plan benefits above.
- Credit Reports and Scores, Daily: One-Bureau, Annual: Three-Bureaus: you can do this for free as highlighted above.
- Investment Account Activity Alerts: each broker is going to have their own alerts in place, the key here is consolidation.
- 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring: you can do this for free with TransUnion and Equifax via Credit Karma.
- Up to $1,000,000 Stolen Funds Reimbursement and Personal Expense Compensation (vs $25,000 for Standard and $100,000 for Advantage): increased perk not available elsewhere.
- Checking & Savings Account Activity & Application Alerts: the application part could be valuable.
- Sex Offender Registry Reports: if your neighborhood doesn’t alert you first.
- Priority Live Member Support: skipping to the front of the line could be helpful, if you have an issue.
Paid Alternative Competitors to LifeLock Comparison
In addition to some of the free services noted above, there are also a number of paid competitors to LifeLock that you compare features against. These include the 3 credit bureaus, which tend to be more focused on the credit related side of things (e.g. credit reports, credit scores, credit monitoring, credit lock features, credit freezes, etc.). Their monthly costs generally are:
- Equifax: “Complete” is $9.95/month for 1 credit bureau (Equifax), “Premier” is $19.95 for 1 credit bureau credit score and annual 3 bureaus. The “family plan” is $2 9.95/month.
- Experian: “IdentityWorks Premium” is $24.99/month for 1 credit bureau (Experian) with a quarterly FICO score, “IdentityWorks Family” is $34.99/month for 1 credit bureau.
- TransUnion: credit monitoring is $29.95/month for TransUnion only.
Alternatively, there are a number of identity theft related paid services out there that focus more on identity theft protection, often with the option to add more of the credit monitoring features for an added cost. 2 of the more popular ones are:
- Identity Guard: “Value” is $8.99/month – no credit monitoring, reporting, or scoring. “Total” is $19.99/month and includes a credit score and 3-bureau credit monitoring. “Ultra” is $29.99/month and adds a 3-bureau annual credit report.
- IdentityForce: “UltraSecure” is $17.95/month – no credit monitoring, reporting, or scoring. “UltraSecure+Credit” is $23.95/month and includes 3 bureau reports, scoring, and monitoring.
LifeLock Review Summary
As you can see, LifeLock offers a lot of stuff in 1 package, particularly in comparison to competitors. You can do some of what LifeLock does for free, with effort and discipline (to keep doing it periodically). However, there are a number of benefits that you cannot get otherwise, without paying. 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 organization, peace of mind, and to set it and forget it plus some other benefits you can’t get elsewhere (e.g. restoration specialists, reimbursement, dark web, etc.).
Is LifeLock a scam? No, it is not, as you can see by the full feature set that the service offers. LifeLock’s recent purchase by Norton Symantec has only further expanded its product offering and added to its legitimacy.
Note: signing up for LifeLock is a low risk proposition. If you decide to cancel, and are an annual member and request a refund within 60-days after being billed, you are entitled to a complete refund. Otherwise, you are eligible for a pro-rated refund on any unused months through the end of your term.
If you’re interested in LifeLock, you can get up to 25% off membership here.
LifeLock has done quite a bit to improve its service offering over the years, and the Norton Symantec purchase adds to that. While there are many features that LifeLock offers that can be done for free, there are now a good number of features that cannot. Additionally, there is value in peace of mind and not having to worry about keeping up with everything on your own. With plans starting at $8.99 per month (with 25% off promo discount for the first year of service), there is not much to lose if you feel like you aren’t getting enough value to justify the price. You can cancel any time and get a full refund within the first 60 days.
Thanks so much for this write up. I was recently alerted by my Discover card that some personal info was found on a dark web site. I hadn’t signed up for a service from what I recall, nonetheless, I was able to put a fraud alert on the credit agencies. Apparently it’s called Discover Social Service – but I will likely sign up for LifeLock at this point as well. Thought I’d share my experience as you mentioned no one else offered dark web monitoring.