There are a ton of identity theft protection services out there, and each one is as unique as the customers using them. When you’re looking for protection, we think it’s really important to compare and contrast services. And good news for you — we’re here to do exactly that.
We’re going to look at two top-shelf services in this review: NortonLifeLock and Complete ID. While there are some pretty extreme differences between the two, we think you’ll find they both have something to offer if you’re looking to safeguard your identity from bad actors.
When we recently reviewed NortonLifeLock, we were immediately impressed by the depth of their services. Not only did they protect us on a myriad of fronts, but it also came with a suite of unique cybersecurity offerings as well. Complete ID, on the other hand, is offered by Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus. That pedigree, we found in our Complete ID review, brings some real benefit, too.
So let’s unpack both services so you can see if either is the right one for you.
Right off the bat, we have to talk about the elephant in the room. The biggest difference between NortonLifeLock and Complete ID is that the latter is only available to Costco Members. Yes. That Costo.
While that might seem strange, it’s actually quite common. As identity theft becomes a growing concern, there are a number of clubs and businesses that are starting to partner with identity theft solution providers as an added perk for their membership. As we pointed out when we tested ProtectMyID, that service is only available to AAA members. And as we saw when we did our hands-on review of AllClear ID, that service is usually only available as an employee benefit for post-data-breach monitoring.
Did You Know: Identity theft is quickly becoming one of the most common types of fraud in the U.S. It’s estimated 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced some form of it.
So if you’re already a Costco member or considering becoming one, Complete ID might be for you. But, you might be wondering if it’s worth the extra cost when compared to other services like NortonLifeLock.
We’ve got to say, the competition is stiff. NortonLifeLock is widely regarded as one of the premier identity theft protection products on the market; we even recognized it as our ‘Best Brand’ on our top 10 list of Best Identity Theft Protection Services. It offers a robust suite of services both on the identity theft protection and financial monitoring side of things, along with unique bonus features to boot. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, though. It’s a little pricey, and its premium package of services can be a lot to set up and interact with on a day-to-day basis.
But we’ll get into all that. Without further ado, let’s see how the two stack up against each other.
Financial Monitoring — Complete Protection and Then Some
Financial monitoring is one of the most important aspects of identity protection. You want to select a plan that covers you completely, and that means triple-bureau credit monitoring. Many services only focus on one bureau — particularly lower-tier products or product packages. The good news is both Complete ID and Norton LifeLock offer triple-bureau protections, but it’s worth noting the latter only offers them in their Ultimate Plus tier of coverage. That’s the one we recommend, and the one we’ll be referring to throughout this LifeLock vs Complete ID comparison guide.
But why is triple-bureau monitoring so important, you ask? Good question. Each of the three major credit monitoring bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian — reports credit-worthiness using different metrics. While each generally looks at the same data points, what shows up on one might not show up on another — at least for a period of time. You really want to be watching all three to make sure you have the greatest likelihood of catching suspicious activity before it becomes major financial damage.
Did You Know: It’s not uncommon for scores to vary slightly from bureau to bureau. What you need to be on the lookout for is sudden, unexpected drops from any of them. Rapid, inexplicable declines in scores are a good indication of identity theft.
So that’s good news. Both services offer triple-bureau monitoring and annual reports from each bureau that you can go through with a fine-tooth comb. Keep in mind that NortonLifeLock and Complete ID both display the reports differently, but each report is complete in its own way.
Both brands also offer monthly score tracking tools, which are very handy for anyone looking to recover from financial hardship or improve their credit. That said, we found that Complete ID and LifeLock are each missing credit score simulators, which is a neat feature we saw when we reviewed IdentityForce and a couple other services. These simulators add a helpful (read: necessary!) component to credit score planning, in our opinion.
So on the monitoring side of things, the two services are pretty comparable. One point where NortonLifeLock has Complete ID beat, though, is with its ability to lock your TransUnion credit report. This is important because it prevents fraudsters from opening up new lines of credit or taking out loans in your name.
We liked the convenience of being able to lock our credit report with the click of a button in NortonLifeLock’s dashboard, a feature we didn’t get from Complete ID. But keep in mind that you can also do this by contacting each of the three credit bureaus.
Pro Tip: If you want to really dial-in your credit monitoring protections, we recommend taking a look at our roundup of the best credit monitoring services in the industry.
So that’s about it as far as financial and credit monitoring go, but there’s still a lot more to unpack. So now let’s have a look at Complete ID and NortonLifeLock’s identity protection elements.
Identity Monitoring and Protection — One Monitors, The Other Prevents
First, let’s start with the similarities. Both services offer standard dark web monitoring for pieces of key information like social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, and driver’s license numbers. These are the most common pieces of information identity thieves purchase on shadowy marketplaces to begin to unlock your identity and start doing serious financial harm. Note that NortonLifeLock edges out Complete ID in the number of categories they monitor, but in our opinion, nothing is glaringly missing from either.
NortonLifeLock and Complete ID also offer actionable alerts when pieces of sensitive information are discovered. In our experience, NortonLifeLock categorized them a little better than Complete ID, but it’s not as if the latter felt disorganized. It’s always helpful when these services provide you with the who, what, where, and why of each alert, and additionally, what you should do about it. We’re happy to report both NortonLifeLock and Complete ID do a great job here.
Now, that’s just monitoring, but what about prevention? We have to say this is where NortonLifeLock really shines. It’s not surprising that an identity theft protection service owned by a cybersecurity firm would prioritize preventative measures including access to a virtual private network (VPN), a password manager, and virus protection software… but we’re glad they do!
Did You Know: Virtual Private Networks work by spoofing your location by routing your internet traffic through non-local servers. It’s one of the best ways to prevent hackers from getting into your network.
Not only does NortonLifeLock help you sniff out your personal information on the dark web, they help you prevent it from ending up there in the first place. In our eyes, this is a major boon for the service, and one of the reasons it comes so highly recommended.
So as you can see, both companies offer a suite of core features, but NortonLifeLock takes it to the next level in a few categories. Now let’s say the worst happens, something slips through the cracks, and your identity is stolen anyway. Who has your back better?
Restoration Assistance — Both Help in a Time of Crisis
The good news is unless you’re a multimillionaire, you’re likely going to be fully covered by both services. As far as identity theft insurance goes, both NortonLifeLock and Complete ID have you covered for up to $1 million, and both give you around-the-clock access to restoration specialists who will assist you in resolving your case. This is pretty much industry standard. We saw this type of identity restoration when we did our deep-dive ID Watchdog review and when we tested out Privacy Guard, and numerous other times.
However, NortonLifeLock edges out Complete ID (and the others) here as well. They offer an additional $1 million to cover lawyer fees and an additional $1 million in stolen funds reimbursements compared to the single million of ID theft insurance offered by CompleteID. You’ve definitely got a bigger pool of money to pull from if you go with NortonLifeLock.
Did You Know: The estimated global cost of identity theft for 2020 is $25.6 billion.
That said, Complete ID does bring something unique to the table in this regard. They promise to assign you a dedicated recovery specialist in the event your identity is stolen. Anyone who has ever tried to deal with a complicated problem with a large organization surely understands the frustration of being bounced around from one department to another and being put on hold dozens of times. This won’t happen with Complete ID, so take that for what it’s worth.
All right, at this point, you should have a complete understanding of what each service is bringing to the table. Let’s take a look at how they break down their services, and more importantly, how much this is all going to cost you.
Plans and Prices — Finding the Right Service at the Right Price
First, let’s have a look at what you’ll get with NortonLifeLock’s various tiers of service. Keep in mind, this whole time we’ve been referencing their premiere service plan, Ultimate Plus. You can definitely go for a less expensive tier, but there’s a pretty sharp drop off in the features and services the further down the ladder you go.
|LifeLock Services||Standard||Select||Advantage||Ultimate Plus|
|Credit Monitoring||Single Bureau||Single Bureau||Triple Bureau||Triple Bureau|
|Annual Credit Report and Scores||Not Provided||Not Provided||Single Bureau||Triple Bureau|
|Credit Lock||Not Provided||Not Provided||Provided||Provided|
|Sex Offender Registry Reports||Not Provided||Not Provided||Not Provided||Provided|
|Stolen Funds Reimbursement||Up to $25,000||Up to $25,000||Up to $100,000||Up to $1 Million|
|Personal Expense Compensation||Up to $25,000||Up to $25,000||Up to $100,000||Up to $1 Million|
|VPN||Not Provided||Up to 5 Devices||Up to 10 Devices||Unlimited Devices|
Note this isn’t a complete list — it’s just our highlights. For a more complete understanding of what’s offered, check out our in-depth Norton LifeLock pricing and plans guide.
Like we said, we recommend selecting Ultimate Plus if you’re going to use NortonLifeLock. But — phew — 30 bucks a month might be a stretch for some budgets. We understand that there are a ton of services offered, but if you aren’t going to be utilizing all of them, you’re going to be wasting money at the end of the day.
Now let’s look at Complete ID. There are no different tiers here; the only difference is how much it will cost and that depends on what type of Costco membership you have. For Costco Executive Members, it’s $8.99 per month, and for Gold Star or Business Plus members, it’s $13.99. Again, this is not a complete list of services, it’s only our punch list. For a comprehensive look, visit our Complete ID pricing, packages, and plans page.
Complete ID Plans
|Identity Protection||Credit Monitoring||Restoration Services|
|Dark Web Surveillance||Three-Bureau Credit Monitoring||Round-the-Clock Access to U.S.-Based Support Team|
|Financial Account Takeover||Monthly VantageScore Update||Designated Restoration Specialist|
|Non-Credit ID Monitoring||Annual Three-Bureau Vantage Scores||Up to $1M in ID Theft Insurance|
|SSN Monitoring||Annual Three-Bureau Credit Report||Lost Wallet Replacement Assistance|
|Payday Loan Monitoring||Financial Dashboard|
|Criminal Record Monitoring||Credit Alerts|
Let’s circle back to that elephant in the room — that you can only access Complete ID if you’re a Costco member. A standard Costco membership costs about $60 per year, so using our trusty abacus we found that the total cost of a Complete ID subscription is right at $18.99 per month. This is still considerably lower than the price of a NortonLifeLock Ultimate Plus subscription, and you’ll have access to Costo stores nationwide. Just food for thought!
NortonLifeLock vs Complete ID: The Takeaway
Both Complete ID and NortonLifeLock are great services, but they are both only right for certain types of people. The tech-wonk that wants only the best of the best will love NortonLifeLock. Complete ID, on the other hand, would be perfect for the average Joe who wants to protect his identity and also buy an industrial-sized bucket of macaroni and cheese from the bulk-buying superstore.
Personally, we’re more of the former, but at the end of the day it’s all about finding the service that’s right for your lifestyle. If you want to widen your search a little more, a great place to start is our identity theft protection services buyers guide.
NortonLifeLock and Complete ID FAQs
It depends on what you’re looking for. NortonLifeLock offers more features, but Complete ID is more user-friendly.
Yes, both services monitor all three credit bureaus, but only if you select one of the higher tiers of service from NortonLifeLock. Complete ID monitors all three by default.
We’d say NortonLifeLock is better. Not only do they provide core monitoring services, they also offer a suite of cybersecurity protections.
Costco Gold Star and Business+ members can access Complete ID service for $13.99 per month, while Costco Executive members will pay $8.99 per month.
Basic plans go for $9.99 per month, and premiere plans cost $29.99 per month.