LifeLock: Will it Save Your Digital Bacon?

Category: Finance

If you're concerned about identity theft these days, you're not necessarily paranoid. Frequent and massive data breaches provide scammers with the personal information they need to pull it off. If someone assumes your identity they can open new credit cards, raid your bank accounts, ruin your employment prospects, or even commit crimes for which you are blamed. With so much at stake, many people are paying $20 or more a month for identity theft protection services. But are they wasting their money? Here's the scoop...

Is Identity Theft Protection Effective?

Todd Davis, founder of identity theft protection service LifeLock, became famous for billboards that bore his Social Security Number and a dare to ID thieves: "Steal my identity" which was protected by LifeLock, of course. Well, it turns out they did, at least thirteen times! In 2010, LifeLock was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to pay more than $12 million in fines for false and misleading adverting.

Although LifeLock has since changed their advertising and the means they use to spot identity fraud, no identity theft protection service can absolutely ensure that your identity will not be stolen! In fact, LifeLock's own advertising carries the disclaimer that "no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses." (LifeLock was acquired in 2017 by Symantec, makers of Norton computer security products, and is now called NortonLifeLock.)

The problem is that your identity can be vulnerable to theft from sources far outside of your control, or even sources that you don't know about. Most data breaches occur at merchants, service providers, government agencies, and other institutions to which you have given your personal information, and at still others to whom those entities have given your information without your knowledge.

Lifelock Identify Theft

Most people's identities are exposed to theft in so many different places that it is impossible to protect them all. You can do your best to secure your computer with antivirus software, use strong passwords, and avoid clicking suspicious links, but you also have to rely upon the security measures taken by those entities that are supposed to protect you. Until recently, many business, government offices, and even one credit bureau were lax about protecting personal information from theft. (See Equifax Takes The Data Breach Cake.)

According to researchers, about 10% of Americans fall victim to identity theft each year. The Identity Theft Research Center reports that there were 1,774 data breaches involving the theft over 400 hundred million sensitive records in 2022. Major retailers, banks, government agencies, utility companies, schools, and other institutions left the doors open in often stupendously stupid ways. There is nothing that LifeLock or any other identity theft protection service can do to force third parties to protect your data. So what do you get for your subscription fee (or "insurance policy")?

See my related article Do You Know the Signs of Identity Theft? to learn the signs of possible ID theft, steps you can take to prevent it, and how to respond if it happens to you or someone you know.

What Protection is Actually Offered from Identity Theft?

LifeLock and its competitors monitor the activity of your identity online and in the economy. They monitor applications for credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial instruments made in your name. Lifelock's Dark Web Monitoring searches the dark web where information gleaned from data breaches is commonly sold. If your information or "unusual activity" is found, Lifelock will alert you to it; effectively asking, "Hey, did you really do this?" If you didn't, then some thief may have, and it's time to hit the panic button. Data points most commonly exposed are names, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and driver license numbers. Data breaches can also contain medical history, bank account numbers, and insurance details.

If it appears that your identity has been stolen and is being misused, LifeLock can take care of alerting credit card companies and other institutions for you. Accounts can be locked or closed; new credit cards issued; and other measures taken to thwart thieves' use of your identity. You may be prompted to change a password if it appears that an account in your name was compromised.

Repairing the damage done by identity theft is a years-long, painful, and expensive process. Some things that you never did may remain on your record forever. In one case, a sex offender used another man's identity, and the innocent man was told by authorities that his name can never be removed from databases of sex offenders.

LifeLock and others in the fraud protection business promise to help you repair the damage if you are a victim of identity theft.
The Lifelock Standard plan costs $10/month and says it covers "up to $1 million for lawyers and experts" and will reimburse for up to $50,000 in stolen funds and personal expenses related to an ifentity theft incident. The Advantage and Ultimate plans have higher reimbursement levels.

But how far they'll actually go depends on where you live, and the plan you've selected. The NortonLifelock Licensing and Service Agreement is 11,377 words of legalese, and the document entitled Evidence of Coverage: All Members Except NY and WA State Residents spells out how much they will pay out to help you, based on your membership in one of the 24 plans listed. (See the Legal Information and Resources page if you live in New York or Washington State.)

Interestingly, in the Exclusions section, you'll find that the policy does not cover losses arising from nuclear radiation, radioactive contamination, terrorism or "loss or damage resulting from or arising out of a Cyber Attack." Hmmm, identity theft perpetrated via the Internet sounds like a cyber attack.

I don't personally know anyone who has suffered from identity theft while a LifeLock subscriber, and then tried to submit a claim for help. I've been a customer for several years, but there have never been any significant alerts. I do know one person who suspected that her mother (a LifeLock subscriber) had become an ID theft victim. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. But she says that LifeLock certainly did everything she would have wanted, when it came to investigating the situation, and that gave her confidence that LifeLock would have honored their guarantee if there had been a real problem.

Here's the bottom line... Identity theft protection services such as Lifelock, Aura, and ID Shield can provide you with some protection from identity theft, but they cannot guarantee that it will never happen. And if it does, they will provide some assistance in cleaning up the mess, but don't expect them to make it like it never happened. You'll have to decide if that's worth the $10 to $49 a month that may cost.

Do you have something to say about identity theft? Have you had an incident that was successfully resolved by an identity theft protection provider? Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "LifeLock: Will it Save Your Digital Bacon?"

Posted by:

18 Apr 2023

Check with your bank and / or credit card issuers. We receive free alerts about checks to our credit history and whether the SS number has been found on the dark web. It is only for the card holder, so each person would need their own account.

Also, Bob has mentioned in other articles, but not here, that a FREEZE on the Big Five(?) credit bureaux stops any new accounts being opened. It is fairly simple to temporarily over ride the freeze for your own use .. ask the entity which bureau they will check and just over ride that one, for a limited time.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2023

I still use Norton for my antivirus and security software. I find it to be on of the best (in my opinion). As you have noted in other articles, there are others that are just as good.

But I don't subscribe to Lifelock. I have many free services that monitor the dark web and alert me to potential breaches. And I get my credit reports at least 4 times a year.

And I use different strong passwords on each of the 200+ sites that I have logins on.

I may start considering using different emails on each of those sites. That way when I see a warning that my email has been compromised, for example from, I can tell which site it was.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2023

I've been a member of "IDShield" for almost 20 yrs. and liked it so well I became an associate to market the plan, along with our Legal plan. The chances if you have IDT problem you may need an access to an attorney also.
What separates IDShield from other IDT plans is our family plan covers member and spouse plus up to 10 dependent children up to 18 yoa. Children get issued a SS# when they are born and chances are the SS# will be stolen before they turn 18. Protect your family for one affordable price.
Signup today at

Posted by:

18 Apr 2023

@ Charley,
With regards to different emails, I have my own domain and everybody (including Bob) gets their own email address. GoDaddy used to host it til 2021, but then they switched to O365 and the catch-all function doesn't work, so I had to find another email hosting company and did at Network Solutions. So, if I should check the haveibeenpwned site and see, for example, the email I assigned to this site, then I'll let Bob know and changed things around. Only my friends and family have my real-world email address (and my domain emails get forwarded to it, so I have it in two locations).
I hope this helps.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2023

> If your information or "unusual activity"
> and alert you to it; effectively asking,
> "Hey, did you really do this?"

Um. looks like some identity, I mean, content theft has occurred on your own page, Bob :)

Also, look for a typo in "custmer" that I've spotted.

Otherwise, thanks for the informative article!

Posted by:

19 Apr 2023

@ Marek

I wanted to be the first to tell Bob about 'custmer'
because (quite rightly) he warns us to use correct grammar when writing to him hahaha

EDITOR'S NOTE: Come on, guys. It's just a regional dialect. :-)

Posted by:

19 Apr 2023

My wife and I had been subscribers to LifeLock for several years. When we applied for a loan to purchase a vehicle. Our free service, CreditKarma, alerted us to the credit check in just a couple of days. We heard crickets from LifeLock. We called and wrote to LifeLock asking for someone to explain why they did not report the credit check. No one could or would explain. We cancelled Lifelock. We continue to use CreditKarma.

We have our home and cars insured by State Farm. We recently signed up for their ID protection program.

We had put freezes on our credit files with the big 3 agencies several years ago, and are working on freezes for the next tranche of 4-6 credit reporting firms.

A couple of months ago, we became aware of someone(s) actually applying for several credit lines in my wife's name at IKEA, and for various bank credit cards. Because of our having our credit files frozen, the credit issuers sent us letters asking us to unfreeze her accounts so they could check her credit. Of course, we did not since she did not make those applications for credit. Consequently, we have elevated her freezes to EXTENDED FRAUD ALERT, which is a notification that appears on her credit reports for seven years asking lenders to verify her identity before processing credit or loan applications in her name. This is also known as a fraud-victim statement and is specifically designed for victims of credit fraud or ID theft. To add an extended alert, one needs to submit a copy of a police report or ID theft report along with the request.

Posted by:

Ken D
20 Apr 2023

Of course for Lifelock to do anything, you have give them your SSN, Bank numbers, phone numbers, email, driver License and so forth. How secure is Lifelock?

Posted by:

21 Apr 2023

... and I lost track of how many times LifeLock's CEO has his social security number hacked.

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