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Lifelock Sucks

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 (No comments yet)
His name is Todd Davis.<br/> His SSN is 457-55-5467.<br/> And he's making <i>millions</i>!
His name is Todd Davis.
His SSN is 457-55-5467.
And he's making millions!

Lifelock is that company where the CEO posted his Social Security Number with a challenge to take his identity (which someone promptly did). If you've been considering getting the service, wait. First realize what you're paying for.

If you were to go to their site and read through what they actually do, you'll find that you're not getting much for your money.

NOTE! This is for the original version of Lifelock. Due to legal settlements, they've changed their service somewhat and details are below.

  1. They place fraud alerts. The problem is, fraud alerts are practically worthlesss as far as protecting you from ID theft.

  2. They renew the fraud alerts every 90 days. Note that this isn't actually a separate benefit, but they sure seemed to want to have six benefits to their service instead of just five.

  3. They remove your name from pre-screened credit card offers. You can do it yourself, freely, and quickly at optoutprescreen.com. Also note that this is a one-time benefit and not something that you should be paying monthly for.

  4. They order your credit reports once per year which is easy for them because they can use the free annual credit report you are due by law. The bad part here is that if you wanted to use the very clever advice of getting your report from one of the companies every four months so you can keep a semi-constant tab on your credit, you can't. Lifelock blew your free coupons all at once.

  5. They'll keep a list of the companies you have credit cards and such with so you can quickly call them if your wallet is stolen. The FDIC has a great guide about how to do this yourself including the advice to carry a bare-minimum of cards and information and to make your own call-down list.

  6. Lastly, insurance (which some people claim you can't collect on).

The BEST way to actually prevent ID theft is with a Credit Freeze

Worst of all, the "fraud alert" features (1 and 2) that they provide have been blocked as a result of a recent lawsuit by Experian who claimed that Lifelock was abusing the fraud alert system by placing them for EVERYONE instead of just people who feel in imminent danger of ID theft.

Lawsuit Changes

Because of the lawsuit, they had to pull the fraud alert "feature" from their list of services. Along with some other recent changes I didn't update on, here is the complete list of Lifelock "features" as of Sept '09:

  1. LifeLock Identity Alert™ - In theory they somehow monitor whenever a credit application is entered and alert you. Isn't this what Credit Monitoring services do?

  2. eRecon™ - They claim to monitor known criminal websites for your personal information. If they find it, they alert you and help you remove it.

    My BS-meter is blinking for two reasons. First, what known criminal websites are out there that Lifelock can get to more than anyone else? If they're public websites, a google-alert would work just as well (and it's free). If they're NOT public websites, how did Lifelock get access to them? Do they have criminal connections?

    Second, if they're known criminal websites, why haven't they been taken down? What's lifelock going to do to "resolve the problem" that the police couldn't do?

  3. TrueAddress™ - Monitors change of address databases and alerts you if someone tries to change yours. I don't know how well this works or even if it works as described, but if it does, this might be the first real service that Lifelock provides that isn't easy and free to do yourself.

  4. WalletLock™ - Already described this

  5. Credit card offer opt-out - Already described this

  6. Request your annual free credit reports - Already described this

  7. 24 Hour Phone Number - As it should be.

  8. $1 Million Guarantee - Sort of. Read on...

In a different class action lawsuit, the lawyers argue that despite the "1 million dollar guarantee", it's actually almost impossible to collect. The guarantee only comes into action if you can show a "defect in their service", but...

the only way fraudulent activity could result from a defect on LifeLock's behalf was if the company failed to sign its customer up for a fraud alert or add its name to an opt-list. Even if that happened, Carey said, it would be difficult for a customer to prove it was LifeLock's fault.

When all is said and done, Lifelock is nothing more than credit theft insurance with little more benefit. And rather than pay a monthly fee for insurance, you are far better off getting a Credit Freeze which actually does protect against ID theft rather than just try to clean it up after the fact. Factor in that a freeze is a fraction of the cost of insurance (and free in some cases), Lifelock just doesn't have a leg to stand on.

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Fraud Alert

A fraud alert is a request that you have to make to the credit reporting companies (Equifax for example) to put a special flag on your report that warns retailers and credit-grantors to be more cautious when granting credit in your name.

In theory, you're only supposed to set these when you have reason to believe you're in imminent danger of id-theft and they expire in only 90 days. Also, because retailers can easily ignore or miss the flag, they have very poor effectiveness in combating id-theft.

Credit Monitoring

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