A LifeLock Review:
Many years ago, I gave my first LifeLock review. The service has changed quite a bit since then and I have revised this LifeLock review as recently as January, 2019.
Before signing up for LifeLock (that link offers the best deal I’ve ever seen at 10% off for the first year – terms apply), it’s important to understand what you’re paying for. There are plenty of solid ways to protect yourself from identity theft that are absolutely, 100% free. In some ways these free identity protection measures go above and beyond the paid services, such as LifeLock, that are out there. In other ways, they fall short, and in order to keep up with them, it takes more manual work on your part.
Let’s take a look at what LifeLock has to offer (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 in this LifeLock review.
Benefit Claim: LifeLock Identity Alert System and One-Bureau Credit Monitoring
“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.”
“We monitor key changes to your credit file at a leading credit bureau and alert you to help detect fraud.”
Free DIY Alternative? Yes. 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 now offers free credit monitoring alerts.
Benefit Claim: 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 DIY Alternative? No. I don’t know that there is a free alternative to these benefits. 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: LifeLock Privacy Monitor™ Tool
“The LifeLock Privacy Monitor tool provides reduced public exposure of your personal information to help you keep your private information private.”
Free DIY 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 this benefit goes, given that it appears to be proprietary.
Benefit Claim: Credit Reports and Credit Score Access
The “Advantage” (1 credit bureau) and “Ultimate Plus” (3 credit bureaus) plans offer:
“The credit scores provided are VantageScore 3.0 credit scores based on data from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion respectively. Any One-Bureau VantageScore mentioned is based on Equifax data only.”
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 credit reports, at any time.
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 $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.
Benefit Claim: USPS Address Change Verification
“Identity thieves try to divert mail to get important financial information. LifeLock lets you know of changes in USPS 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 “Million Dollar Protection Package”
“We will cover you for personal expenses incurred as a result of identity theft, up to the limits of your plan. If your money is stolen due to ID theft, we will reimburse up to the amount provided by your plan. 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. Reimbursement and Expense Compensation, each with limits of up to $25,000 for Standard, up to $100,000 for Advantage and up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus. And up to $1 million for coverage for lawyers and experts if needed, for all plans. Policy terms, conditions and exclusions at: LifeLock.com/legal.”
This could include reimbursement 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.
- Arrested Related Expenses.
- 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, but if this gives you some peace of mind, then it might be worth the cost.
Benefit Claim: Stolen Funds Replacement
“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.”
DIY Alternative: Not that I am aware of.
LifeLock Review Summary:
Is LifeLock a scam? No, it is not. You can do some of what they do for free, with effort and discipline (to keep doing it periodically). And there are some benefits that you cannot get otherwise. 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, so it’s very low risk to see if the value is worth it for you.
Note: 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 10% off membership here.