Here’s a sobering thought. You’re out to eat with three of your friends. At least one person seated at the table with you has been the victim of identity theft — and they might not even know it yet. What’s worse, it could be you.
Scary, right? Thankfully, there are plenty of services available to help you protect yourself. However, with so many products on the market, it can be difficult to pick the right protections.
This in-depth comparison guide will help shed some light on two of the industry’s leading services — NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID. We’ll take a look at their similarities, their differences, their pricing, and services to help you determine which might be the right product to protect you from a variety of fraudsters and bad actors.
A History of Protection
LifeLock was founded in 2005. Since that time, the company was bought out by Symantec — the people behind Norton Antivirus. Now known as NortonLifeLock, this identity theft protection service is one of the best on the market today (trust us, we’ve tried them all). NortonLifeLock offers a complete range of financial and identity protection as well as a full suite of preventative cybersecurity measures.
While ProtectMyID doesn’t boast the bells and whistles of NortonLifeLock, the service is powered by Experian — one of the three major credit monitoring bureaus whose roots can be traced back to the early 1800s. That name certainly brings with it confidence and peace of mind that your protections are as close to the source as they can be. You will, however, need certain credentials to access ProtectMyID, but more on that later.
So now that we’ve been introduced, let’s take a look at some of the ways these two services are similar.
NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID: The Core Functions
The good news is that both services offer all of the key functionality we look for when ranking the best identity theft protection services. A quick note, though: both services have multiple tiers of protection. For the purposes of this comparison, we’re going to be looking at both NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyId’s premier service packages. And honestly, these premium tiers are the ones we’d recommend for more robust coverage.
FYI: We’ve found that most identity theft protection services on the market offer multiple tiers of service at differing price points. While you may have to do some leg work, it’s not hard to find the protections you want for a price that fits your budget.
The best place to start comparing similarities is by looking at their credit monitoring capabilities. Both services offer triple-bureau credit monitoring, which means they will be keeping an eye on your credit scores from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. We always recommend selecting a service that offers triple bureau credit monitoring.
The truth is, one of the best indicators that you’ve become the victim of identity theft is a dramatic, unexplained decline in your credit score. Each credit monitoring bureau calculates this score using slightly different data points and algorithms. This means that unauthorized activity that might be picked up immediately by one agency might not show up with another until it’s too late. Monitoring all three is the best way to ensure you can react quickly if something suspicious is going on.
NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID also offer access to each bureaus’ credit report — the information used to calculate your score. Again, it’s worth repeating that we recommended going with a service that will let you monitor all three bureaus. This is a great way to ensure unauthorized activity hasn’t gone unnoticed, or that there aren’t mistakes in your file that are negatively impacting your score. It happens more often than you think.
Did You Know: According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people has an error on at least one of their credit reports. It’s certainly worth looking into!
Worth pointing out here, though, ProtectMyID only offers your Experian credit report for free; you’ll have to pay a fee to access the other two. NortonLifeLock, on the other hand, provides all three with the cost of admission.
That said, both services also offer a unique feature that we haven’t seen in a lot of identity theft protection products — the ability to lock your credit file. At the touch of a button, NortonLifeLock will place a lock on your TransUnion credit report, and ProtectMyID will lock your Experian file. This is great functionality to have, and we recommend using it whenever it’s available.
Credit locks prevent bad actors from accessing your file unless the lock is first lifted. This means no one can access your file without your knowledge. It's one of the single most effective measures for preventing identity theft, and few people are aware it’s even an option. Even if you don’t select an identity theft protection service with this functionality, you can still set up locks or freezes by contacting the credit bureaus directly.
Did You Know: A credit lock can be toggled on and off in real-time, but a freeze takes longer to set up and undo. Deciding between the two depends on your ultimate goal, so talk with the credit monitoring bureau to decide which is right for you.
So that’s the credit side of things. How about the similarities between NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID’s identity protections?
Both offer dark web monitoring for personally identifying data like social security numbers, credit and debit card information, phone numbers, medical IDs, and driver’s license numbers. Both service’s software crawls the dark web’s black markets for instances of your information showing up and alerting you to it. Note that this is a pretty common functionality, but it’s important to have and trust.
Another element both services offer is comprehensive, actionable alerts when this personal information shows up where it shouldn’t be. The level of detail provided goes a long way in determining if an alert can be disregarded or if further action should be taken.
For example, in the ProtectMyID alert below, we were told our email address was compromised and it had shown up on the dark web with an associated password. That might cause you to panic, but in the “here’s what to do” section, we were informed of the right steps to take to mitigate our risk. Since we’d already changed our email password since the date it was posted, we knew we didn’t have to worry about it. If it was more recent, though, the steps given would help protect us.
Both also offer the ability to extend their protections to children. While it might not seem important to protect your kids from financial crimes, it’s something you should seriously consider. Identity thieves love to prey on children, because they are essentially “blank slates,” with no established hurdles to clear.
Additionally, if fraud is committed in a child’s name, it’s unlikely to be detected for years — essentially crippling them as they come of age. If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your family safe, read our guide on the best identity theft protection services for children.
It’s important to note here, though, that ProtectMyID will cover up to 10 children at no additional cost, while NortonLifeLock’s children’s plan costs an additional $5.99 per month per child.
ProtectMyID and NortonLifeLock also offer similar, industry-standard restorative services should your identity become compromised resulting in material damages. Their platinum protections offer up to $1 million in insurance, but it's worth pointing out that NortonLifeLock offers an additional $1 million to help their top-tier customers pay for lawyers and other experts.
So that about does it on the similarities between NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID. Now let’s delve into how the two services are different. We think you’ll be interested in what we found.
ProtectMyID and NortonLifeLock: Two Different Approaches, Similar End Results
First, we have to get the biggest difference out of the way. While NortonLifeLock is available to the general public, ProtectMyID is only available as a bonus feature for AAA members.
So that’s good news if you are already a member of the auto club, but bad news if you’re interested in the service and you’re not a member. Swinging back to good news, though, Experian offers a similar service that’s accessible for everyone. You can read our review of IDnotify to get a feel for its features, and you can learn about its various protective tiers in our IDnotify services and pricing guide.
So with that said, let’s unpack the different ways NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID safeguard their customers.
The first difference you’ll likely notice is the differing priorities. It’s not surprising that NortonLifeLock focuses more on the technical, cybersecurity aspects of identity theft protection, and, as we noted in our hands-on ProtectMyID review (which, as a reminder, is brought to you by Experian) they focus more on the financial, credit-monitoring side of things.
To this point, making a decision on which service is right for you comes down to what you value. If you’re more privacy-minded and want to fiddle with the technical aspects of things, NortonLifeLock is the better choice. If you’re more of a financial planner who wants to closely monitor your credit, we think ProtectMyID would be more your speed.
That said, you’re also going to want to consider the features each service provides. While ProtectMyID’s suite of services is certainly complete for the average consumer, NortonLifeLock brings a whole slew of functionality to the table that ProtectMyID simply can’t keep up with.
Most of these features, like we said, have more to do with preventative cybersecurity measures than core functionality. NortonLifeLock provides its users with access to:
- A virtual private network (VPN)
- A password vault
- Antivirus protection
- Ad-tracker blocking
- Cloud backup
- Anonymous browsing
- Webcam protections
All of these services are great and will help protect your identity in preventative ways, but some consumers might find them unnecessary. When making your decision, it’s worth considering if you’ll get use out of these offerings. If not, you’re going to be overpaying.
And that’s not to say ProtectMyID doesn’t have some unique offerings of its own. True to their focus on finances, they offer a robust credit score tracking and monitoring tool that will alert you if your score fluctuates by thresholds you can set, if you reach a certain goal, or if your category changes from, say, “fair” to “good.” We’ve found this to be a really helpful function for anyone looking to improve their credit or rebuild it after financial hardship.
ProtectMyID’s social security number monitoring is also far more robust than NortonLifeLock’s. With the former, you’ll be provided a map showing exactly where your social security number has been used, the name it was associated with, and what it was used for. Extremely helpful if you fear your social security number might have become compromised in some way.
It’s also worth pointing out that NortonLifeLock pushes everything just a little further than ProtectMyID. They don’t just offer financial account monitoring, they’ll keep an eye on your retirement account as well. They don’t just monitor the dark web for your personal information, they’ll watch for it on file-sharing networks, too.
We recommend taking a look at our in-depth review of NortonLifeLock to get a more complete understanding of all the services offered, but suffice to say, while they offer total coverage, it might be overkill for the average Joe. Then again, it’s sometimes better to have features you don’t need, then it is to need features you don’t have!
Now let’s take a look at how NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID compare in terms of services offered and monthly pricing.
NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID Pricing: You Get What You Pay For
Like we’ve been hinting at through the entirety of this comparison guide, you’re going to get a lot of services with NortonLifeLock; however, you’re going to pay for it. NortonLifeLock is one of the most expensive services on the market today, but at $29.99 per month it probably won’t break the bank.
Check out our latest guide on NortonLifeLock plans and monthly subscription fees. And for a quick overview, we created this handy chart:
NortonLifeLock Services and Prices
|LifeLock Services||Standard||Select||Advantage||Ultimate Plus|
|Credit Monitoring||Single- Bureau||Single- Bureau||Triple- Bureau||Triple- Bureau|
|Annual Credit Report and Scores||No||No||Single- Bureau||Triple- Bureau|
|Sex Offender Registry Reports||No||No||No||Yes|
|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|
|Cloud Backup||No||Up to 100GB||Up to 250GB||Up to 500GB|
|VPN||No||Up to 5 Devices||Up to 10 Devices||Unlimited Devices|
While the lower tiers of service are more affordable, you can see there’s a pretty sharp drop off in functionality. If you’re going with NortonLifeLock, we have to recommend at least the “Advantage” plan, which is more affordable at $20 per month. Also worth noting, these are the prices for the first year of service. After 12 months, the costs for each plan increase slightly.
Compare this to ProtectMyID’s plans at our ProtectMyID service plans and monthly pricing guide, or reading over another handy chart below.
ProtectMyID Services and Pricing
|Credit Report||Single-Bureau||Triple-Bureau (with payment)||Triple-Bureau (with payment)|
|Identity Theft Insurance||Up to $10,000||Up to $1,000,000||Up to $1,000,000|
|Fraud Resolution Support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social Security Number Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Dark Web Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Experian Credit Lock||No||No||Yes|
|Social Media Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Sex Offender Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Monthly Price||Free for AAA Members||$10.95||$15.95|
So, let’s do some quick math here. An average AAA membership costs about $60 per year, depending on where you live. That’s 5 bucks per month. That means you could buy a AAA membership with the Platinum ProtectMyID service package, and it would still be less expensive than NortonLifeLock’s premier plan. Now, it’s beyond the scope of this comparison to recommend something like that, but it’s certainly food for thought.
NortonLifeLock Vs. ProtectMyID: The Takeaway
So here’s the long and short of it — the decision comes down to cost and priority. If you want top-of-the-line protection, NortonLifeLock offers it, but at a premium. If you’re comfortable with more basic — but still complete — protection with the added bonus of AAA membership, ProtectMyID would be the smarter choice. All things considered, we really enjoyed our time trying out NortonLifeLock, and we do think their Ultimate Plus plan is worth every penny. So LifeLock gets our vote.
FAQs about both NortonLifeLock and ProtectMyID
ProtectMyID is only available to AAA members while NortonLifeLock is available to the general public.
If we’re talking about premiere service tiers, ProtectMyID is more affordable even when a AAA membership is factored into the equation.
NortonLifeLock offers far more services than ProtectMyID, but some features might not be necessary for the average consumer.
Yes, both offer similar restorative services and similar reimbursements for material losses.
Yes, both services offer triple-bureau credit monitoring and access to all three bureaus’ credit reports — although you’ll have to pay an additional fee for TransUnion and Equifax reports with ProtectMyID.