LifeLock sucks. When I first heard about LifeLock a few years ago, I was very intrigued by its service. I was especially interested in how it advertised the services: With the company’s CEO telling everyone his social security number.
The company “guarantees” that your identity will never be stolen, and it offers a “$1,000,000 Service Guarantee.”
Initially, LifeLock was set up as a glorified credit monitoring service. Company representatives also made the phone calls that would have your name removed from pre-approved credit card offers and junk mail lists, and had the credit bureaus each send you a credit report once a year. Since then, LifeLock has added more services, but these don’t appear to be very valuable:
- WalletLock – Stolen or lost wallet remediation services that will help cancel accounts and replace your cards.Telling you how high your exposure to identity theft is
- Monitoring public records and court records
- Showing you your monthly credit score from TransUnion
- TrueAddress – Looking for changes to your address in databases
- Tracking alternate names
- eRecon – Searching “known criminal websites” for the selling of your name and personal information
- Monitoring for payday loans
- Surveillance of unregulated global networks and file sharing sites
But the big selling point for Lifelock is the service the company says they provide if your identity is ever stolen while you’re using LifeLock. The company says it will hire lawyers and investigators to help recover your good name.
Sounds good, right?
Here’s the main problem with this service: Most of what it offers can be accomplished on your own for free. All it takes is a few phone calls to credit agencies, and you’re done. Why would you pay a monthly fee of $10 for these things which you can do for free on your own?
LifeLock suggests that customers like the convenience of having someone else do the work for them, and I don’t dispute that $10 to $15 per month is a small price to pay for the convenience. However, do you really want another company digging into your personal information? Doesn’t the handling of your personal information by LifeLock add another risk?
But there’s a bigger issue, and the plaintiff’s lawyers have gotten a hold of this one. The $1,000,000 guarantee isn’t exactly what it sounds like. The company says it will pay to repair your credit if your identity is stolen, yet the class action suit says that the actual service guarantee says LifeLock will only pay for expenses resulting from a defect in its service.
This is true, as the company’s website states:
LifeLock works to help protect you from identity theft before it happens by taking proactive steps to reduce your risk. If you become a victim of identity theft while you are a LifeLock member because of a failure in our service, contact us and we will act on your behalf to repair any damage. We will spend up to $1 million on lawyers, investigators, consultants and whatever else it takes to restore your good name and recover the direct losses of the identity theft.
No money will pass directly to our LifeLock members. For full details, please read the Terms & Conditions section of our website. (Restrictions apply. See LifeLock.com for details. Due to state law restrictions, the service guarantee is not offered, applicable, or available to residents of the State of New York.)
The class action lawsuit also said that the LifeLock CEO’s identity was being used by about 20 identity thieves. If this is true, I can only suspect that it’s more lucrative to advertise his social security number than protect his identity. It’s apparently made him a lot of money.
In 2010, LifeLock settled a lawsuit with 35 state attorneys general for $12 million. The company was accused of misleading consumers with its claims. Pursuant to this settlement, LifeLock allegedly made its claims regarding the $1 million guarantee more clear (see above), but it’s doubtful that the additional language in that statement did much to better educate consumers.
The bottom line? The attorneys say that the company is basically offering a worthless service with a worthless guarantee. And in large part, I agree.