LifeLock™ Identity Theft Protection Services

Based In:   Tempe, Arizona
Review Updated:   September, 2016
Contact:   (877) 543-3562
Website:    LifeLock.com
Price:   $10/month or $110/year (Lifelock Basic)
$15/month or $165/year (Lifelock Command Center™

#1 Identity Theft Protection

LifeLock, we're told, isn't a credit monitoring service. Rather, they're a credit lockdown service.

Credit-monitoring services like TrueCredit (review) and Equifax Debt Wise are fantastic for folks who want to periodically check their credit scores and reports and keep tabs on them. But what if you don't want to "monitor" anything? What if you just want to be sure that your identity is as safe from intruders as it can be?

Well, you take a look at LifeLock.

Like a lot of folks, I first discovered LifeLock from a TV commercial (yeah, go figure). There was their CEO, Todd Davis, publishing his Social Security number on the screen for all the world to see.

"Yes, that really is my Social Security number," he was saying. "But I'm not worried. I'm a LifeLock user, and I know our system works."

I figured the guy was either really confident ... or a liar ... or an idiot.

But, in the end, he had me intrigued. (Which I'm sure was the goal all along.)

 

LifeLock Features: The Good

Here's a quick run-down of what LifeLock does for you:

  • LifeLock Identity Alert™ system monitors credit and service accounts for misuse of your information. If LifeLock's analytics system finds individual pieces of your identity in credit or loan applications, they'll notify you by email, postal mail, or phone. If the the action is determined to be the result of fraud, LifeLock begins remediation action.

    LifeLock asserts that this protection is broader than that previously provided by them; i.e., previously they would place 90-day fraud alerts on all three of your credit-bureau reports. With Identity Alert, LifeLock's system provides protection even against fraud cases where a credit check might not be required.
  • They request that your name be removed from junk-mail and preapproved-card lists. They renew these requests as they expire.
  • Each year, they order your free credit reports from the major credit bureaus; these reports will be sent directly to you.
  • The $1 Million Guarantee. I'll just quote from their site:

    If your identity is stolen while you are our client, we're going to do whatever it takes to recover your good name. If you need lawyers, we're going to hire the best we can find. If you need investigators, accountants, case managers, whatever, they're yours. If you lose money as a result of the theft, we're going to give it back to you. We will do whatever it takes to help you recover your good name and we will spend up to $1,000,000 to do it.
  • WalletLock™ Service: With WalletLock™ you have instant access — anytime, anywhere — to an identity-theft recovery specialist who will assist you if ever your wallet is misplaced or stolen. A WalletLock™ specialist will contact each credit card, bank, or document-issuing company, cancel your affected accounts and complete the paperwork and steps necessary to replace your lost documents, including your credit/debit cards, driver’s license, Social Security card, insurance cards, checkbook — even traveler's checks. (Note, though, that if your wallet carried cash, WalletLock™ can't recover that.)
 

LifeLock Features: The Bad

Now that LifeLock no longer automatically initiates fraud alerts with all three credit bureaus on your behalf (what a pain that was), I have to work pretty hard to come up with possible LifeLock detractors.

Still, there are a few things that occur to me:

  • Removal from credit-offer mailing lists means you MIGHT miss something useful. Yeah, I'm probably reaching here. But it occurs to me that one could conceivably miss a useful offer once his/her name has been removed from the "preapproved offer" mailing lists.

    (Though I understand precisely why LifeLock does this. The words "snail mail" and "secure" don't exactly go together!)
  • What am I paying for? You'll pay for the service each month (or year), and get ... nothing much that's tangible. Very rare emails; no phone calls; few or no snail-mailed letters. LifeLock does their thing, keeping your identity protected in various ways, but they do it very quietly. Some folks may wonder what the heck they're paying for.
 

So Why Bother?

LifeLock's website is very upfront about this: Everything they do, you could do for yourself for free.

But we have to qualify the term "free" as used here. It would, for instance, take a fair chunk of time for you to try to do all the LifeLock-related checks yourself.

So unless your time is truly "free," then the $10 (or $15, if you select the higher-level protection) per month that LifeLock charges doesn't really seem so out-of-whack.

Heck — as you'll read below, I took them up on it for my daughter. LifeLock seemed far more appropriate for her (she won't be needing credit anytime soon) than for my wife and I, who do use credit and who open accounts as the need arises (see also Credit Card Arbitrage) and who already have TrueCredit monitoring.

 

Credit Monitoring vs. LifeLock:
What's the Difference?

If you're someone who regularly opens new bank accounts (perhaps ING's Electric Orange checking suddenly appeals to you) or lines of credit (again, think credit-card arbitrage and other Fatwallet-type schemes), then LifeLock might be less useful to you than a credit-monitoring service would be. Why? Because your credit score would be more important to you than it might be to people who aren't necessarily engaged in those sorts of things.

In that case, what you want is a credit-monitoring service. Something like TrueCredit (review) would be more to your advantage. Those services allow you to monitor your credit scores on an ongoing basis. LifeLock, while it does make sure you receive your free credit reports each year, does not report credit scores.

LifeLock's Selling Point for Me:
Protecting Our Daughter

The biggest reason we decided to use Lifelock (in addition to our TrueCredit monitoring)?

We wanted to protect the identity and credit of our young daughter. From the Lifelock site:

LifeLock can help guard your child's future credit worthiness, while saving you time, effort and worry. It's easy to enroll and inexpensive to add a child membership to your account.

...Our LifeLock Identity Alert™ system provides you with early notification by phone, email, and/or postal mail whenever we detect your child's personal information being used to apply for credit or services in our database. This is a service that credit bureaus cannot provide.

Here's a PDF of the section of Lifelock's Terms & Conditions which pertains to identity protection of children via Lifelock:

Lifelock Terms & Conditions: Minors' Services

LifeLock Signup is Stupid-Easy

There isn't much I can say about LifeLock's signup process. And that's good.

Two short screens. Less than four minutes.

Everything financial should be this painless.

Screenshots & Aesthetics

Typically, when I do a product or service review like this, I like to provide a lot of screenshots. With LifeLock, however, there really isn't much need. Heck — there simply isn't anything to show!

Why? Because once you've started it, LifeLock is very much a behind-the-scenes, set-it-and-forget-it service.

Pricing & Value

You'll pay roughly $10 per month for Lifelock's basic service, or slightly less if you pay a year at a time. Lifelock's newer, more-extensive Command Center™ service runs $15 per month, or $165 if paid annually. Both versions are, in my opinion, fairly priced.

I will say this, though: Once you sign up, you'll get a few "Welcome!" emails immediately ... and that's about it. After that, LifeLock just its thing, monitoring various data systems and such on an ongoing basis. You won't hear from them much, if at all.

All you'll know is that your identity — or your child's — is about as well-watched as it can be.

Summary

One thing that makes it tough to review a service like LifeLock is this: If LifeLock does its job as advertised, it's likely that I'll never know about it. Or, more appropriately, I'll never have to think about it.

That's good for them, I guess. But it's good for my wife and I, too.

As mentioned above, our daughter's identity is now protected by LifeLock. If someone were to attempt to use her information to, say, open a credit card, I'd prefer that the transaction simply be stopped dead in its tracks. Failing that, if the credit-card company were to call me to verify the account (or, rather, to verify that I or my daughter didn't initiate it), well, that'd be fine, too. LifeLock would then be "on the case," as they say.

Either way, I'd feel that my dollars were well-spent.

I'm very much a guy who wants to see services like LifeLock stay behind the scenes. My time's valuable; I don't really want to be bothered with "Straight to the Recycle Bin" emails anyway. I'd much rather be doing other things. Like writing. Or reading to my daughter —

— my daughter whose identity won't end up buying someone else a bunch of stereo equipment.

Or a truck.

Michael • September, 2016


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