LifeLock is the company that has a picture of their CEO, Todd Davis, telling you his social security number is 457-55-5462 as a testament to the power of LifeLock’s services. It’s a marketing gimmick, no doubt, but it’s a pretty clever one, you have to admit.
However, the bottom line identity theft services like LifeLock is that you’re buying piece of mind and a maintenance service. You can do a majority of the services they provide, I outline them in Do-It-Yourself Identity Theft Protection , and they even freely admit this. With the exception of a $1 million service guarantee, everything else is free to the public.
You May Not Need It
If you are diligent, keep good records, and remember to do everything, I think you should do it yourself and not buy a service like LifeLock. If you aren’t and if you think you might be at risk for identity theft, it might be better to pay the $9 a month just so they do everything on-time and without lapses. They will remember to put fraud alerts on your credit history at the three bureaus every 90 days, they will remember to periodically refresh your data on OptOutPrescreen.com so you stop getting junk mail, and they will request your credit history every 12 months from the three bureaus. It’s not a lot of work, but if you’re prone to lapses and forgetting to do things, $9 may be a fair amount to pay for someone to look over your shoulder. That’s why I think it’s more like a service contract (like when the heating company sends a technician out to check your HVAC every six months).
Since launching they’ve added several additional services including WalletLock (explained below), scanning black market forums for the sale of your identity, and other identity theft related activity.
Is Your Data Safe with LifeLock?
The first thing you have to consider is whether the company itself is safe, which is not an unreasonable reaction because of some of the negative stories out there about former founders  and such. Here’s what they say : “LifeLock is ISO 27001 certified  for data and operational security and follows industry best practices to secure and protect personal information. We conduct background checks on all of our employees, including regular random drug testing. All of our facilities are built with the latest biometric security access as well as state-of-the-art surveillance and alarm systems. No data is stored onsite. No computers anywhere outside of secure data centers have our member’s critical information on them.”
About The One Million Dollar Service Guarantee
One million dollars sounds like a lot but the figure is really just to put your mind at ease. The guarantee is that if your identity is stolen while you are a customer, Lifelock will pay for people to recover it, restore your losses, and recover any expenses. This is the insurance part of the Lifelock deal, it’s really piece of mind against the threat of identity theft. Is it worth it? It’s for you to decide how much you think the service of protecting you is worth and how much the insurance is worth, then work from there. Here is a link directly explaining their one million dollar service guarantee .
WalletLock  is a service offered by LifeLock, included in the standard service package, that lets you call an 800-number if you ever find your wallet missing or stolen. LifeLock will then work with you to cancel credit cards, report stolen drivers’ licenses and social security cards, replace passports, visas, immigration documents, checkbooks, insurance cards, etc (you’ll have to identify them all via a form beforehand). The way to do this yourself is to photocopy all your credit cards, front and back, as well as all your other important documents so you have a copy if you lose the original. It also makes sense to indicate on your photocopies the cards you have in your purse and wallet so you know which ones to cancel. You could do this all yourself, or you could have it done for you included in the price.
American Express offers a similar service called the Credit Card Registry for $29/year. “American Express Credit Card Registry ensures a Cardmember’s cards will be protected. The service will cancel and request replacements of any lost or stolen cards (including ATM cards) – all with a single call. It also provides fraud liability coverage, passport replacement, and driver’s license replacement in several states… For more information, Cardmembers can call 1-800-227-2639.”
The bottom line is that if you want identity theft protection, a service like LifeLock will give you that and more. Credit bureaus, and other companies, offer credit monitoring services that just look for abnormal activity. I think those services are a complete waste of money because they won’t protect you if something bad happens (and they often more expensive).
If you are diligent, do it yourself because you don’t need to pay someone $9 for something you’re able to stay on top of. If you aren’t diligent, these services aren’t a bad idea, just know that you’re essentially buying a service contract with someone keeping tabs on your identity and nothing something super special and fancy you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. If you do sign up, be sure to get the 10% coupon floating around and you won’t pay full price (or click on the banner below).
I have not personally used LifeLock but they’re the company I always see in the news. Have you used them, or TrustedID or IdentityTruth, and want to share your experience; or do you see it as a waste of money?
(Photo: thetruthabout )