In 2015 alone, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 3 million complaints, and 16% of claims were related to identity theft. That same year, Consumer Sentinel Network reported that Americans lost more than $765.3 million to identity theft, with the average cost of a successful scam being $1,154.
If you don't want to be involved in these scary statistics, one of the best ways to help protect your identity is to subscribe to an identity theft protection service. Founded in 2005, LifeLock dedicates its service to helping to protect people from identity theft. For over 10 years, the company has provided protection for their customers, which led to an International Stevie Award in 2010 for its work with the FBI. There are many packages available with this company, but today we’ll be looking at the LifeLock Advantage to decide if it’s worth the money.
- 24/7 Customer Service: No one wants to wait until 8 AM to contact their identity theft company to report their wallet stolen. Unlike some competitors, LifeLock has 24/7 phone and email support so you can contact them on your own time.
- Stolen Funds Replacement: Many companies have an insurance guarantee to help pay to recover your identity, but LifeLock offers you dollar for dollar reimbursement for lost funds. LifeLock customers also have a $1 Million Service Guarantee. Advantage members also have a $100,000 reimbursement feature for any funds that you lost due to identity theft.
- Pre-Approved Offer Reduction: Pre-approved credit card offers are annoying, but they’re also potentially troubling if they get in the wrong hands. Thieves can steal these offers from your trash or recycling and apply for a card in your name. LifeLock Advantage reduces the amount of offers you get through the mail.
- Black Market Monitoring: When your identity is stolen, it may be sold on an online black market. LifeLock monitors these malicious sites and remains updated when new ones are created to make sure your identity doesn’t appear in these dangerous places.
- Online Annual Credit Score: You know that you can get your annual credit report, but did you know that you cannot get a score through the major credit bureaus? If you subscribe to LifeLock, you can get an annual credit score to monitor your identity and finances.
The 24/7 live customer support is easily one of the best features for LifeLock. Nothing is better than being able to call for help if you lost your wallet at 2 AM. Additionally, no matter what plan you purchase through LifeLock, your social security number, credit cards, driver's license, and all public records are monitored at all times. If someone does steal your identity, LifeLock Advantage comes with a $1 Million Service Guarantee in addition to the $100,000 reimbursement for lost funds. Couple this with the annual credit score, black market monitoring, and credit card offer reduction, you may think that this package can be pretty expensive. LifeLock Advantage is only $19.99 per month, but what is bad about it?
- Lack of Credit Inquiry Alerts: When you get a credit card or apply for a utility, the company inquires about your credit. Unfortunately, you won’t know about these credit inquiries until you see your credit report with LifeLock Advantage.
- One Credit Report: There are three major credit reporting bureaus, but LifeLock Advantage only gives your credit score for one. Since credit companies report to different bureaus, you cannot use LifeLock to monitor your credit report history.
- No Antivirus Protection: Protecting your computer is important, especially since identity theft can occur through personal computers. Having a good keyboard encryption software or anti-virus is essential to protecting your identity.
- Lawsuit in 2015 (Resolved): In 2015, LifeLock was involved in a lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission involving false advertisement. The company settled in December 2015 for $100 million.
Looking at LifeLock from a consumer point of view, it’s disappointing that Advantage doesn’t offer more than one credit bureau report per year, but glaring issues are the lack of credit inquiry alerts, missing medical protection, and no anti-virus protection. All of these can be pretty essential to protecting your identity. The lawsuit could be a potential negative, but it seems LifeLock learned from its mistakes. Maybe in the future, LifeLock may consider providing credit inquiry alerts for its Advantage plan. If this is essential to you, LifeLock Ultimate Plus offers credit inquiry alerts and reports from all three credit reporting bureaus.
The lawsuit may sway any potential customer, but thankfully LifeLock took the lawsuit as an incentive to improve the quality of their product. Fortunately, most of the bad aspects of LifeLock can be solved without much effort on the part of the consumer. AnnualCreditReport allows everyone to get one free credit reports at each of the three bureaus at no cost. Additionally, there are several free anti-virus programs available for every computer. However, it can be important for a customer to have medical ID protection and credit inquiry alerts. Knowing about credit inquiries can stop a criminal before they have a chance to spend money.
At $19.99, LifeLock does provide quite a bit of service. In addition to protecting all public record information and providing every customer with a $1 Million Service Guarantee, LifeLock also monitors known black market and malicious websites for your info, reduces the amount of credit card offers you receive in the mail, and replaces any stolen funds up to $100,000. If anything ever does happen, LifeLock provides 24/7 support with near five-star customer service. Overall $19.99 for LifeLock Advantage doesn’t seem like a bad deal if protecting your identity is crucial to you.
Disclaimer: No one can prevent all identity theft.