LifeLock is the most recognizable identity theft protection company. But does it work, and is it worth the cost? Our LifeLock review has the answers.
LifeLock, a Tempe, Arizona-based identity theft protection service, began in 2005. LifeLock keeps tabs on whether anyone is pretending to be you or spending your money without consent. Identity thieves target just about anybody, and the stories are ugly.
I speak from experience. A thief stole my credit card number in 1990 and charged $500 worth of stereo equipment. Fortunately, my credit card company notified me, deactivated the card, and assumed full responsibility for the purchases.
In this complete LifeLock review, we’ll cover the services and cost of identity theft protection. First, however, let’s look at identity theft and why a company like LifeLock is so successful.
Facts About Identity Theft
- According to a Javelin Strategy and Research study, the 2016 victim population was at 15.4 million victims. That means every minute about 28 people become a new victim of this crime, or a new victim in just over 2 seconds.
- The incidence of victimization increased from 13.1 million people the year before. In totality, 1 in 16 people were victims of identity theft in the US last year.
- This, even though 2016 was the first full year that brick and mortar retailers were forced to to accept credit cards with secure EMV chips.
Identity theft has been around a lot longer than you might think. Well before the invention of the Internet, identity theft was committed by assuming the identity of the deceased. These days, identity theft has become a lot less morbid, but with hundreds of new cases reported every day, the problem is getting worse. The Federal Trade Commission’s website covers identity theft. It uses words like “victim” and “criminal” to describe every case filed.
The Identity Theft Act
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) states that ID theft has occurred when one knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law. The act further states, “violations of the Act are investigated by federal investigative agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
Consumer Sentinel Network
To help in the aid of catching those who commit identity theft, the US government created something called the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN). The CSN is a massive secure online database of consumer complaints that is available only to law enforcement. Since CSN’s inception in 1997, consumers have filed over 18 million complaints. In 2016 alone, consumers lodged over 1.8 million complaints. Of these, 52% were fraud complaints, 26% were identity theft complaints, and 22% were tagged as other.
So now that you have a little bit of background under your belt, let’s return to LifeLock.
LifeLock’s Identity Theft Protection
No matter which monthly service you choose, LifeLock provides you a few basic protections. If you lose your wallet, LifeLock provides you lost wallet protection. Call them, report your wallet lost, and LifeLock covers any fraud from that point on. LifeLock will also reduce your SPAM mail and reduce the exposure of your personal info online. They provide 24/7 customer support and through their Identity Alert System, can alert you instantly of any hanky panky.
LifeLock Low-Cost Monthly Plans
LifeLock also has evolved from a one trick pony a few years ago into a company that provides different solutions for people with different problems. They currently have three membership plans with different protections. The more expensive the plan, the more LifeLock keeps track of in terms of your identity.
LifeLock Standard membership features include alerts for the following:
- Stolen funds reimbursement up to $25,000
- Personal expense compensation up to $25,000
- Personal info on the dark web
- Any request to change your address
- Personal info on service and credit applications
- Fake personal information connected to your identity
For the additional $10 per month, you can upgrade to the LifeLock Advantage membership, which includes all the above benefits, plus:
- Stolen funds reimbursement up to $100,000
- Personal expense compensation up to $100,000
- Personal info on arrest and court booking records
- Large scale breaches
- Cash withdrawals, transfers and large purchases from your credit, checking and savings accounts
Lifelock’s best service is their Ultimate Plus plan. Everything you see above is included, as well as alerts if any of the following happen:
- Stolen funds reimbursement up to $1 million
- Personal expense compensation up to $1 million
- New bank account applications with your information
- Takeover of bank accounts with your name on them
- Investment or 401k activity
- Personal info on file sharing networks
- Your name on a sex offender registry
Is LifeLock worth it?
Here is what LifeLock says they will do should you be the victim of identity theft:
If your Identity is stolen while you are a member of LifeLock, we’re going to do whatever it takes to recover your good name. When 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.
We don’t think you will see a guarantee like this anywhere else from any other company. If you do, let us know because we’d like to do business with them. There isn’t much fine print in our Guarantee.
If you believe you are at significant risk of identity theft, then the LifeLock service will probably be of more value to you. The low monthly fee helps. And while the LifeLock $1,000,000 guarantee is a benefit, it is of limited value. Some mistakenly believe that it covers you if your identity is stolen while you are a member of LifeLock, but that’s not the case.
Rather, it covers you if you become a victim of identity theft while you are a LifeLock member because of some failure or defect in LifeLock’s service. If LifeLock does its job and you become an ID theft victim anyway, the guarantee doesn’t cover you.
If you have used LifeLock, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment letting us know what you thought of the service.