LifeLock’s identity theft monitoring, alert and recovery services aim to detect problems and help you bounce back, but it — and other similar services — cannot prevent identity theft.
LifeLock now offers more than credit and identity theft monitoring because of its association with Norton, which has long been in the business of antivirus software for computers.
It's important to understand that identity theft services most often tell you when your identity has already been compromised. The Norton LifeLock website acknowledges that and adds that LifeLock doesn't monitor all transactions at all businesses. No service can completely take the place of practicing good cyber hygiene and checking over statements.
Freezing and unfreezing your credit at each bureau is free, and NerdWallet recommends it for consumers who aren't actively applying for credit.
What LifeLock does and what it costs
It makes sense to first determine exactly what you want from an identity theft monitoring service. Your "must-have" services may already be available to you as an employee benefit or because you were affected by a data breach.
Like other services, LifeLock offers tiers of protection. Here are highlights, but each level offers many elements. You can compare the plans in detail on the Norton LifeLock website.
LifeLock Standard: Protection starts at an introductory rate of $9.99 per month. After a year, it auto-renews at $11.99 per month. It includes monitoring the use of your Social Security number, name, birth date or address in applications. It also offers credit monitoring at Equifax, one of the three credit bureaus. It patrols the dark web for your data, verifies any change of address and includes up to $25,000 in stolen funds reimbursement.
Norton 360 With LifeLock Select: This level adds Norton 360 cybersecurity features to the standard package. It also starts at an introductory $9.99 per month, then auto-renews at $14.99. It adds Norton features such as a password manager, cloud backup and VPN for up to five devices.
Norton 360 With LifeLock Advantage: This level increases the reimbursement maximum to $100,000, and adds bank account and credit card activity alerts and alerts about criminal activity associated with your name. The security and VPN expand to 10 devices. The price moves up to $19.99 a month for the first year and $24.99 after that.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus: This bumps up potential reimbursement to $1 million, adds credit monitoring at all three major credit bureaus and monitors investment activity. The beginning price is $29.99 per month and it auto-renews at $34.99 per month.
You can add minor children to any plan for $5.99 per month. However, there's no discount to add a spouse; the spouse pays the same monthly price as the original member. You may be able to cut costs by finding discount codes or paying for a year at a time instead of monthly.
Is LifeLock worth the price?
You might find a Norton LifeLock product worth the cost if:
You are unwilling to freeze your credit.
You want help resolving an instance of identity theft or have other security worries.
You are also looking for privacy protections such as VPN, a password manager, etc.
You have more money than time to monitor for potential signs of identity theft.
Also, weigh the pros and cons:
LifeLock provides wide-ranging monitoring and alerts, making it useful if you don’t have the time or desire to monitor your own credit and other accounts for suspicious activity. It also searches the dark web for your data. While that data cannot be removed, you can take proactive steps — such as changing passwords or notifying the agency that issued identification, such as your driver’s license — to make it less useful.
It’s especially helpful if you know you are at heightened risk because you have already been a victim of identity theft or you want a type of monitoring you cannot or won't do yourself, such as dark web monitoring or checks for criminal activity.
It can also be a good choice if you are looking to bundle virus protection with identity theft monitoring, and can get the features you want by doing so. It may cost less and be easier to use than having two separate services to do those tasks, since the systems are designed to work together.
Cost is a concern. If you're on a tight budget, consider using free methods to make yourself less of a target.
You can perform many of LifeLock’s identity theft protection services on your own, for free:
Frequently checking your credit accounts online, reading statements and setting activity alerts on financial accounts will help you quickly spot suspicious activity.
You can update to secure passwords and use two-factor authentication.
You can track changes to your credit score and monitor your credit report for free online on sites like NerdWallet.
If you’re a victim of identity theft, you can get a free, customized path to recovery at IdentityTheft.gov.
LifeLock is more expensive than some other identity-protection services. Costs can add up quickly if you want to add other household members. The service also auto-renews, which can be a convenience — or a nuisance.
Finally, there are risks of LifeLock or any other identity theft monitoring service:
You may start to ignore alerts if you become accustomed to receiving many of them.
You may become lax about your own cyber hygiene because you believe it’s been taken care of for you.