Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today. In 2017, about 1 in 15 people experienced some form of identity theft at least once during the year. That means almost 17 million victims, including 1 million children, were forced to cope with the after-effects of having their identity stolen.
With data breaches occurring more often, it is more important than ever to be proactive about protecting your identity. Over 30% of data breach victims have experienced identity theft in some way.
Two organizations promise to help you monitor your identity and work toward identity recovery if it is stolen: IDShield and LifeLock.
Both companies offer a wide range of services for consumers to consider. Deciding which one is best for you must be based on the specific protection needs you may have.
Here is a comparison of the two services.
What Do You Receive with IDShield?
IDShield offers consumers two different packages when an identity theft solution is necessary. The individual plan begins at $9.95 per month, while the family plan starts at $24.95 per month. You can also select a commercial driver plan in some states for $32.95 per month, while small business protection plans begin at $39 per month.
You will be asked to select your region as part of the plan selection process. In the United States, that means you must choose the state where you live.
You can choose multiple plans as part of the checkout process, such as a small business plan and an individual plan.
When you subscribe to the identity theft protect plans, you will receive lost or stolen wallet assistance. You’ll be given support for data exposure from a breach. The IDShield team can also help to put the 90-day fraud security alerts onto your credit reports from each reporting agency.
You are given monthly identity theft updates and data breach notifications are delivered when they are discovered.
IDShield also uses a skip tracing technique to investigate your name and Social Security number to see if fraudulent activity is occurring with your identity. Consultations on medical identity theft are included, as is minor and deceased identity theft.
IDShield will also monitor black-market websites, internet relay chat channels, chat rooms, P2P networks, and social feeds for personal information that makes you readily identifiable.
This information monitoring includes your name, birthday, emails, driver’s license number, passport number, and medical identification numbers.
If an incident does occur, your subscription to IDShield is backed by a $5 million service guarantee to help have your identity restored and the incident resolved.
What Do You Receive with LifeLock?
LifeLock provides identity theft protection services with three different tiers. The standard tier is priced at $9.99 per month, while the advantage plan is $19.99 monthly and the ultimate plus plan is $29.99 per month.
With the standard tier, you receive $25,000 reimbursement for stolen funds. That increases to $100,000 with the advantage plan or $1 million with the ultimate plus plan. All 3 tiers are supported by a $1 million service guarantee to help restore your identity should something occur.
Each tier matches the available stolen funds reimbursement with personal expense compensation. You’ll receive Social Security number alerts, credit alerts, and lost wallet protection with your plan.
LifeLock will also monitor any address changes that may occur with your name through the U.S. Postal Service. Dark web monitoring is included, as is the company’s Privacy Monitor, and one credit bureau is monitored for activities or changes.
If you want bank and credit card activity alerts, you must upgrade to the advantage plan with LifeLock. This middle-tier plan will also provide you with data brach notifications, alerts on crimes that are committed in your name, and provide monitoring of fictitious identities. You’ll also receive an annual credit report and score from one credit bureau, based on the VantageScore 3.0.
To receive credit monitoring on all 3 major credit bureaus, you must subscribe to the ultimate plus plan. This plan also provides you with monthly score tracking from one bureau, annual credit reports and scores from all 3 bureaus, and investment activity alerts.
The advantage plus plan also includes file-sharing network searches, bank account takeover protection, new account alerts, and priority live support.
For an extra $5 per month, you can also receive Norton antivirus software for up to 5 devices with the tier you choose.
Which Option Is Better for Identity Theft?
It is important to remember that most identity theft services provide monitoring and reactive services should something occur with your identity. What you are guarding against is the worst-case scenario.
In the United States, almost 70% of the identity theft incidents which are reported involve stolen credit cards – not the actual theft of an identity. In those circumstances, regulations in the U.S. limit a consumer’s liability when fraudulent charges occur to $50 per account. Most card issuers will even waive this fee.
When you add in stolen debit cards, fake checks, and forged signatures, you have more than 80% of the identity theft incidents which occur each year.
U.S. regulations for fraudulent charges with a bank account are a little different. You have 2 business days to notify your bank after you realize that your debit card is missing. If you report the loss or theft of the card immediately, and the card has not been used, then you have $0 liability.
Your liability is $50 if it is used and your report occurs within 2 business days. If you miss that window, you have up to 60 days after you receive your bank statement to notify the bank that there is an unauthorized withdrawal or transfer on your account. Your liability in that situation is capped at $500.
Outside of the 60-day window, you have unlimited liability for an unauthorized withdrawal.
Depending on where you live, there may be $50 caps on liability for debit cards and unauthorized ATM withdrawals. Some institutions even waive these fees.
If you are not in the habit of checking your bank account and credit card statements often, then identity monitoring is a service to consider. With IDShield, you receive a similar service with LifeLock for the entire family at a lower cost than the advantage plus tier for individuals. That makes it a good value option to consider.
Even with monitoring services in place, it is important to remember that monitoring doesn’t prevent identity theft. It will help you respond to it.
For the less than 1% of households that deal with new account fraud each year in the United States, services from IDShield or LifeLock may provide invaluable protections. When someone has your name, birthdate, and Social Security number, then they might be able to open new credit accounts. They could receive medical care in your name. They can even file tax returns in your name to steal refunds.
If you’re concerned about this type of circumstance, then IDShield and LifeLock provide effective services that can put your mind at ease. For the average identity theft incident, however, many households may find these services cost more than what they provide over the long-term.
The One True Advantage of IDShield
For the most part, the services offered by LifeLock and IDShield are very similar. You receive complete monitoring, unlimited consultation, and comprehensive restoration services if your identity is compromised in some way.
IDShield offers a $5 million service guarantee, which is much more than LifeLock offers, even on their highest tier.
The one true advantage that IDShield offers, outside of helping you save a few bucks per month on similar services, comes with their family plan. For $24.95 per month, you can cover yourself, your partner, and up to 8 children you can claim as a dependent with complete monitoring services.
With LifeLock, you would be forced to cover each person on their own individual plan.
For a large family, that means you could be paying LifeLock $100 per month. With IDShield, you’d still be paying $24.95 per month.
That means for individual coverage, IDShield and LifeLock provide similar services at costs which are somewhat comparable. If you have 2+ children in your household, however, IDShield is clearly the better deal.
Do I Need to Have Identity Theft Coverage?
Not everyone needs identity theft monitoring services. Many of the services that these subscriptions provide can be completed on your own. By monitoring your bank accounts and credit cards for unusual purchases, you can stop most incidents of identity theft before they become problematic.
There are some families who would benefit from this service, especially in high-wealth situations. In that situation, it is important to review what features you’ll receive in the plan you choose. Only you can decide which features will meet your needs.
Identity theft monitoring can provide another layer of defense for your financial wellbeing. It may also cost more than it is worth in some situations. That is why an IDShield vs LifeLock comparison is a good first step to take.