Among all of the different identity monitoring products on the market, there is no brand as widely recognized as LifeLock. But brand recognition alone is not a good reason to choose LifeLock. What really matters is how LifeLock measures up against competitors like Identity Guard, IDShield, and others. So how well does LifeLock do its job? Is it among the elite identity monitoring services on the market? In this LifeLock review, I’ll try to answer those questions and more.
Let’s start with the basics. LifeLock is an identity monitoring and identity theft recovery service. Like virtually all identity monitoring services, LifeLock monitors your personal information and alerts you whenever it spots something you need to know about — like a big loan taken out in your name, for instance, or a data breach that releases your email address. Credit monitoring is a big part of this, but that’s far from being all that LifeLock monitors (for more details on monitoring, head to the Services and Features section of this LifeLock review).
Like some — but not all — other such services, LifeLock also offers identity theft recovery services. This basically means that LifeLock offers insurance**** that will pay out in the event that you are affected by an identity theft.
These three things — monitoring, notification, and recovery — are the three main prongs of LifeLock’s services.
To these three, you can add one additional defense measure: Norton 360. Norton’s antivirus software has been around for years.
Like most identity monitoring services, LifeLock’s core offerings are monitoring, alerts, and restitution for those affected by identity theft. LifeLock subscriptions also include the Norton 360 antivirus software.
But those are just general categories. Let’s take a deeper dive into what LifeLock actually does.
A typical identity theft scheme involves getting ahold of your social security number (along with some other, more basic information) and then applying for loans in your name. The thief makes off with the cash and leaves you on the hook for the loans, often with ruined credit. Naturally, this makes social security number monitoring and credit monitoring a big part of services like LifeLock. LifeLock will alert you if it spots anything unusual happening with your credit or sees your social security number anywhere that it possibly should not be.
LifeLock doesn’t monitor all business transactions all over the world, since that isn’t possible, but it does keep an eye on your credit score and claims to monitor sites on the Dark Web for evidence that your information is being bought and sold.
Norton 360 is an antivirus software program. The branding is a bit confusing here; Norton 360 was once offered alongside “Norton Internet Security,” and both were later replaced by “Norton Security” branding. But Norton 360 seems to be the brand of choice once again, and products under the Norton Security brand are at the end of their life cycle: Norton recommends that users of Norton Security switch to the newer Norton 360 equivalents. In short, Norton 360 is the regular Norton antivirus software. LifeLock and Norton products are tied together, and you pretty much have to get some form of LifeLock along with your antivirus software if you buy a Norton product (and vice versa). So you don’t have to worry that you’re getting some slimmed-down version of Norton protection with LifeLock.
Norton 360 includes most of what you’d expect from an antivirus software, plus some nice extras. Norton’s regular .exe program installs on your computer and sweeps for viruses and malware. There are also browser extensions, which range from useful password managers, Norton Password Manager, to secure browsing, Norton SafeSearch.
Norton’s program makes it easy to spread your protection across multiple devices via an email link.
Norton 360 comes with a VPN, which is a very welcome bonus. A VPN is a virtual private network, and it effectively hides your location and identity while you’re on the internet. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the things you share on the internet are still hidden. If you type your email and password into a website, you’re still relying on that website to stay secure; if it is compromised, you’re still in trouble. But hiding your location and identity can keep sites from effectively tracking you with cookies, and it makes it harder to connect what you share and do on the internet to your real location and identity. Using a VPN is a good choice if you care about privacy on the web, and it’s great to see it included here.
The VPN runs in a little window, which is a little cumbersome, but might be nice for VPN newbies.
Along with your social security number and your credit, LifeLock will keep an eye on your bank and credit card accounts. LifeLock doesn’t have access to your financial accounts from the get-go, of course, but it’s easy to add accounts within LifeLock’s web client or mobile app.
With some plans, LifeLock will also keep an eye out for your name in police reports. It’s worth noting here that police reports are not necessarily considered public records in the way that court reports are, so LifeLock’s powers here are presumably a little limited.
LifeLock monitors your credit, but it also makes scores and reports available annually (depending on the plan, you may get reports from all three major credit monitoring bureaus or just once). As a security measure, LifeLock made me call them to activate the credit features of my account.
LifeLock can monitor investment accounts as well as bank accounts. To get this set up, you just have to log into your investment accounts through LifeLock’s app. You can also tell LifeLock how much transactions need to total in order to trigger an alert.
LifeLock has a lot of support materials online, but they also have a support department that you can call for help anytime. The support section is focused on tech support, but there are also identity “restoration specialists” there to help you (and we’ll talk about them in the next section).
If you become a victim of identity fraud, LifeLock will assign a “dedicated agent” to help you get things straightened up. An active case will appear in the “ID Restoration” tab in the LifeLock app.
LifeLock covers its members for funds they lose due to identity theft, up to a certain amount. Coverage varies by plan (more on that later), and the amounts promised are earmarked for certain purposes. For instance, the baseline “Select” plan offers up to $1 million in coverage**** for “lawyers and experts,” up to $25,000**** for “personal expense compensation,” and up to $25,000**** for “stolen funds reimbursement.” There are some exceptions found in the fine print, including some interesting ones, like the fact that the policy won’t pay out if your identity theft incident is connected to terrorism in any way.
Signing up for LifeLock was pretty easy to do. LifeLock makes customers create a Norton account to handle their information and billing, so I had to do that, first. With that out of the way, I offered up my social security number and other vital information to LifeLock (it makes perfect sense that these sorts of services need your private information in order to track and protect your identity, but I do always find it amusing that the first step in securing that protection is to fork over all of the information that you should avoid sharing online). I paid for LifeLock’s fanciest membership, and I was off.
LifeLock includes a subscription to Norton’s eponymous anti-virus software, so my next step was to download that software and install it.
LifeLock has an in-browser app, but I found that I couldn’t log in on Firefox. Once I switched to Chrome, I had no issues.
Logging into LifeLock for the first time, it was immediately clear that the service’s features and protections outdo those of some competitors. LifeLock had an alert ready for me from the get-go — one that, thankfully, was a recap of old news about data breaches on sites I had accounts with. Two of the three sites that LifeLock pointed out were sites that I didn’t even remember I had accounts with (LifeLock was right, of course: it’s just that I had forgotten about the accounts in question).
Meanwhile, on the “Monitored Information” tab of LifeLock’s web client, I saw a list of personal information that LifeLock was monitoring — and it was impressively long! I had the option to add information to track, like my mother’s maiden name (a common security question, which I presume is why LifeLock considered it worth tracking), my driver’s license, and my insurance policies.
I also had the option to add my financial accounts to LifeLock and receive automatic notifications about large transactions, and I could even decide how large those transactions had to be to trigger a response. In fact, I could set the threshold amounts separately for cash withdrawals, purchases, and transfers, as explained earlier in the Services and features section of this review.
Compared to relatively bare-bones identity protection options of others, this suite of features and these options for customization are really remarkable.
When I went to download the LifeLock app, I found two options in the iOS app store. It turns out that one of them (LifeLock ID Theft Protection) is the old version; if you log into your account on that app, it prompts you to download the new one (LifeLock for Norton 360).
Once I finally got to the correct app, I found it pretty pleasant and simple. As far as I can tell, the mobile app has all of the same information and all of the same features as the in-browser app does.
LifeLock can alert you to potential identity threats via text, automated phone call, or email. You can select more than one option, if you’d like. Happily, Norton didn’t have to alert me about much.
You don’t have any long-term contracts to worry about with LifeLock and you can even sign-up for LifeLock free trials. If you decide that you no longer need the service, you can cancel without a penalty.
LifeLock’s Standard Plan offers up to a $25,000 reimbursement for stolen funds**** and a $25,000 personal expense compensation**** in the event that your identity gets stolen while being protected by LifeLock. The company will also spend up to $1 million on lawyers and experts to support your case****. This service includes social security number and credit alerts, Norton Security protection for up to five devices, protection against lost wallets, verification of any address changes through USPS, Dark web monitoring, a privacy monitor and credit monitoring of one of the three big bureaus. LifeLock Standard starts at $9.99 per month for the first year (Terms Apply).
In addition to the features in the LifeLock Standard plan, your stolen funds and personal expense compensation raise to $100,000**** respectively. This service also tracks bank and credit card activity, looks for crime that’s committed using your information, searches for fictitious identities, notifies you in the event of a data breach, and gives you an annual credit report and score from a single bureau. LifeLock Advantage is $19.99 per month for the first year (Terms Apply).
All of the features from the previous plans are included in this tier. In addition, your stolen funds and personal expense compensation go up to $1 million****, you get your credit reports and scores from all 3 bureaus annually, you get monthly updates from one bureau, 401(k) and investment alerts are available, you’re notified if someone takes over your bank account or opens new accounts in your name, file sharing networks are monitored and the sex offender registry is tracked. You also receive priority member support. LifeLock Ultimate Plus is $29.99 per month for the first year (Terms Apply).
Most identity monitoring and protection services offer more or less the same suite of services. The difference between them comes down to three major things: how comprehensive the monitoring is, how steep the price is, and how user-friendly the entire experience is.
I was impressed with the features and breadth of monitoring available with LifeLock. The price tags are a bit less wonderful, but you’re getting what you pay for.
In our opinion, you’re looking at a very solid identity monitoring and protection service at a reasonable price. It’s not a budget option, but it’s one of the better services of its type. Overall, it is a good choice for protecting yourself and your family.
*LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
**Terms apply to all LifeLock plans.
***The credit scores provided are VantageScore 3.0 credit scores based on data from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion respectively. Any one bureau VantageScore mentioned is based on Equifax data only. Third parties use many different types of credit scores and are likely to use a different type of credit score to assess your creditworthiness.
****Reimbursement and Expense Compensation, each with limits of up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus, up to $100,000 for Advantage and up to $25,000 for Select, when purchased in Norton 360 with LifeLock plans. And up to $1 million for coverage for lawyers and experts if needed, for all plans. Benefits under the Master Policy are issued and covered by United Specialty Insurance Company (State National Insurance Company, Inc. for NY State members). Policy terms, conditions and exclusions at: LifeLock.com/legal.