About 50 million people subscribe to an identity theft protection service in the United States each year. These services, which may cost $500 or more per year, depending upon the service tier selected, work to protect your identity by monitoring your credit reports, watching the dark web for personal information, and removing your name from marketing lists.
Some companies will help you file fraud alerts on your credit accounts. You may even have access to a $1 million insurance plan if your identity is stolen during your subscription.
Two top choices for identity theft protection are InfoArmor and LifeLock. This is a comparison review of their services and the type of experience you can expect if you choose to subscribe.
Comparing Features and Services of InfoArmor vs LifeLock
InfoArmor offers multiple tiers of identity theft protection. You can subscribe to their individual plan for $14.95 per month or opt for the family plan at $24.95 per month. If you pay for an annual subscription, the pricing structure essentially gives you two months for free. There is no age cap on the family plan.
LifeLock also offers multiple tiers of protection. You also have the option of subscribing with Norton included with your cost. The standard plan is $9.99 per month and only includes Social Security number and credit alerts. At $19.99 per month, you receive alerts for bank and credit card activities, as well as crimes in your name. At $29.99, you unlock the $1 million insurance policy, get investment and 401(k) activity alerts, and receive your 3 credit reports and scores from the major credit bureaus.
2. Insurance Coverage.
InfoArmor provides a $1 million identity theft insurance policy which applies to every service tier. The insurance policy does include the standard limitations and exclusions that you’ll find with most providers. It is a secondary coverage that kicks in after your homeowners or renter’s policy. It usually covers your low-cost incidentals, some lost wages, or retroactively if you must defend yourself against a crime and are found innocent of the charges.
LifeLock provides the same type of insurance coverage, but in varying amounts. With the standard plan, you’re only given $250,000 reimbursement, but up to $1 million for coverage for lawyers or identity theft experts – if needed. The advantage plan offers $100,000 in reimbursement, while the ultimate plus plan offers $1 million in reimbursement.
3. Recovery Assistance.
InfoArmor provides members with help that covers pre-existing conditions which may be affecting their identity. This service includes medical identity recovery and criminal identity recovery. Lost wallet services are also included, which allows consumers to recover faster should a data breach affect their personal information. If you’ve already been a victim of identity theft, this service provides you with access to the aid you may need.
LifeLock offers you access to an Identity Restoration Specialist, who will take charge of your account if your identity is compromised. They do not cover pre-existing conditions, though there is advice available from the company to help you take care of certain tasks on your own. If you are covered and your identity is compromised while a subscriber, the $1 million policy is capped. Should it cost more to restore your identity, LifeLock isn’t going to pay the extra legal expenses.
4. Monitoring Services.
InfoArmor provides you with numerous monitoring services that are designed to help you proactively maintain the integrity of your identity. This includes credit monitoring, financial account monitoring, and Social Security number monitoring. You’re also given access to an in-house advocate who specializes in fraud remediation should something happen as a subscriber. Your account is protected with two-factor authentication to ensure high levels of protection for your online experience.
LifeLock provides a tiered level of service, based on the plan that you decide is best for you. At the basic level, you will only receive credit alerts and Social Security number alerts. Lost wallet protection and dark web monitoring is included on the basic plan as well. To match the alert levels that are offered by InfoArmor, you must pay the $19.99 per month individual plan. At the $29.99 monthly level, you do receive retirement account activity alerts, which is not something promoted by InfoArmor.
LifeLock also provides you with access to Norton Antivirus software for an extra $3-$5 per month, depending on your plan. This will give you security protection for up to 5 devices at home.
5. Overall Security.
Both InfoArmor and LifeLock both have the problem of offering you a false sense of security when dealing with your identity theft concerns. Monitoring services alert you when your personal information is exposed online. Once that information has been exposed, you’re not going to be able to get it back.
These companies are only able to provide you with alerts. Someone already has the information and can do something with it. You’re now armed with that knowledge, so you can do something about it. You cannot just fill out a form or make a request to have your information taken off the dark web.
If you read the fine print for both companies, there are also no guarantees that you will be alerted to every instance of your personal information, including your Social Security number, being compromised.
The reality of credit monitoring services and similar offerings from InfoArmor and LifeLock is that it is up to you to put a security freeze on your credit reports. With a freeze in place, new creditors cannot access your file if an account is attempted to be opened in your name. You must give authorization for that account, which alerts you to the fact that someone is trying to hijack your identity.
Without credit information, it is almost impossible to get financing for a big-ticket item or be approved for a new credit card.
Should I Pay for InfoArmor or LifeLock Services?
InfoArmor and LifeLock both present an offer for comprehensive identity theft protection services. These services include the monitoring of your personal information which could be exposed online.
For the most part, you can perform the same tasks on your own that you’re paying InfoArmor or LifeLock to do with their subscription tiers. There are also loss-liability limits and national-level protections for consumers in the United States should an identity theft incident occur. According to Consumer Reports, although the average fraud cost for ID theft is over $4,600, the total out-of-pocket costs to consumers was $631.
When identity theft monitoring services were used to guard against this type of fraud, the average loss for consumers was lower, just under $3,400. Their out-of-pocket costs, however, were very similar, at $587.
InfoArmor does provide that one advantage which you won’t receive with LifeLock. If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft, their specialists can help you find remedies that will help you to restore your identity as part of the service. Although the insurance policies covering loss won’t apply, you will be able to work one-on-one with a specialist who can help you get through the administrative paperwork necessary to begin restoring your identity.
What to Do If You Believe You Are the Victim of Identity Theft
If you believe that you have become the victim of identity theft, then the first step you should take is to notify all your affected creditors. You should also notify your bank or credit union, even if you have not found any suspicious activities on your account. Change your passwords for each financial account and do not duplicate your new passwords.
If you make a report within 48 hours of an unauthorized charge or transfer, your liability limit is just $50. If you make the report within 60 days, then your liability limit is $500. Make sure that you proactively monitor your accounts to ensure no unauthorized charges occur.
Then follow these additional steps to protect your identity.
1. Place a fraud alert on your credit report.
You only need to place a fraud alert with Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. Once you place a fraud alert on one credit report, it will cycle over to the other two credit files. This alert will last for 90 days. If you file a police report regarding the incident, then it can be extended for up to 7 years.
2. Consider a credit freeze.
If you are the victim of identity theft, a credit freeze prevents your information from being reported to new creditors. The cost can be as high as $30 for a freeze on all major bureaus, but if you have filed a police report, it may be free.
3. Contact the FTC.
Although individual cases of identity theft are not usually investigated by the government, obtaining a case number creates an affidavit report and complaint that is dated, allowing you to remove unwanted information.
InfoArmor and LifeLock are tools that some may find to be useful in their battle against identity theft. It may not be the right choice for everyone. Evaluate all your options, think about what you can do at home, then decide on the plan that will work best for you.