Mostly not recommended
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LifeLock is a leading provider of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. It's probably the largest and best known identity theft protection company, thanks in part to an aggressive marketing campaign. The business is based in Temp, Arizona, and was started in 2005. LifeLock has around 3 million members and reported a total revenue of $130 million in 2014. It is a BBB-accredited business with an A+ rating.
What Services Does LifeLock Offer?
LifeLock offers a wide selection of identity theft and credit reporting services. These include removal from pre-approved credit card mailing lists, credit card and bank account monitoring, lost wallet protection, black market website surveillance for misuse of personal information, monthly credit score tracking, credit inquiry alerts, $1 million identity theft insurance*, annual credit reports from the three credit bureaus and credit inquiry alerts.
However, LifeLock does not provide users with their FICO scores and only offers updates to credit reports once a year. Clients who want to know their FICO scores must purchase them elsewhere. FICO scores are the credit scores most lenders use when assessing the creditworthiness of clients. The proprietary credit scores offered by LifeLock are only useful for educational purposes, they do not provide the score lenders look at.
How Does LifeLock Work?
LifeLock is a subscription-based service that detects and alerts cases of identity theft and helps users recover from the damage inflicted when ID theft does occur.
LifeLock divides its services into three tiers of protection. LifeLock Standard includes credit alerts, black market surveillance, Lost Wallet protection, address change verification, $1 million insurance and resolution support. LifeLock Advantage also includes fictitious identity monitoring, court records scanning, credit card activity alerts and an annual look at your credit score and credit report from TransUnion. LifeLock Ultimate Plus also adds bank account takeover alerts, credit inquiry alerts, annual credit reports and scores from all three credit bureaus, sex offender registry reports and monthly tracking of TransUnion's credit score.
As with all identity theft and credit monitoring services, users must first open an account and confirm their identity by providing their full name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number.
How Much Does It Cost?
LifeLock has different prices for each level of protection. The LifeLock Standard costs $9.99, the LifeLock Advantage is $19.99 and the LifeLock Ultimate Plus is $29.99.
How is LifeLock Better/Worse Than Other Credit Reporting Companies?
LifeLock includes a comprehensive identity theft protection program that claims to monitor over a trillion data points to help detect fraudulent behavior before it occurs. The company has over 10 years' experience and A+ rating with the BBB. In the last three years, it has only had 74 complaints with the BBB, all of which were closed. Quite the achievement for a company this size.
As comprehensive as LifeLock's identity theft protection services claim to be, it doesn't include ongoing credit monitoring or scores. Credit reports and scores are only provided once a year, and unless you pay for the $30 a month plan, you only get access to TransUnion's credit data. The credit scores it does provide annually are not FICO scores and are therefore only useful for educational purposes; not to check the score lenders use to assess your creditworthiness.
Another concern is LifeLock's history of questionable marketing techniques. In 2010, LifeLock paid $11 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $1 million to a group of 35 state attorney generals to settle charges of false advertising. Perhaps the most worrying false claim was that they encrypted all personal data. The FTC claims personal data was stored without encryption and vulnerable to identity thieves. However, there has been no further government involvement since 2010 and the low number of complaints in the last three years is reassuring.
* Service Guarantee benefits for State of New York members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy issued by State National Insurance Company. Benefits for all other members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by United Specialty Insurance Company. Under the Service Guarantee LifeLock will spend up to $1 million to hire experts to help your recovery. Please see the policy for terms, conditions and exclusions at LifeLock.com/legal (here).