Is Lifelock or Experian identity theft protection services worth it

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Is identity theft protection worth it? I used to be of the opinion that identity theft protection services were unnecessary. But not anymore. Getting a free credit report once a year is not enough. In 2017, we saw an all-time high in identity theft and it involved much more than credit card identity theft.

I’m currently of the belief that an identity theft protection service is worth every penny.

Identity theft, fraud is a multi-billion dollar industry that cost consumers more than $16 billion in 2017, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research.

How common is identity theft?

Nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by some type of identity theft, according to a 2018 online survey by The Harris Poll. Unfortunately, identity theft crime is fairly common. It’s a reasonable assumption that it can happen to anyone. And, identity theft includes several different types of fraud:

Most Common Types of Identity Theft

Credit Card Fraud

133,015 reports. The thief uses someone else’s credit card or credit card number to make fraudulent purchases.

Employment or tax-related fraud

82,051 reports. A criminal uses someone else’s Social Security number and other personal information to gain employment or to file an income tax return.

Phone or utilities fraud

55,045 reports. The criminal uses another person’s personal information to open a wireless phone or utility account.

Bank Fraud

50,517 reports. The fraudster uses someone else’s personal information to take over an existing financial account or to open a new account in someone else’s name.

Loan or lease fraud

30,034 reports. A borrower or a lessee uses someone else’s information to obtain the loan or lease.

Government documents or benefits fraud

25,849 reports. The criminal uses stolen personal information to obtain government benefits.

Source: The Federal Trade Commission’s 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Report

Can you protect your own identity?

There are several websites that allow you to review your credit reports and track credit scores. But is this enough? If you discover fraudulent activity you can start the process of reporting the fraud, filling-out police reports and identity theft reports with the FTC, freezing credit reports and disputing credit errors.

But, often the damage has already been done. And, the financial and emotional impacts of identity theft is long-lasting.

It can take a lot of time and money to resolve the impact of identity theft which can cause emotional distress. The consequences of identity that go beyond the loss of data and personal information.

A study by the Identity Theft Resource Center found victims of identity theft suffer in ways unimaginable, for instance:

  • 26% of respondents had to borrow money from family or friends.
  • 22% took time off work.
  • 15.3% of respondents sold possessions to pay for expenses caused by their identity theft.
  • 6.7% obtained a payday loan.
  • 26% of survey respondents borrowed money from family or friends to deal with identity theft and 7% obtained a payday loan.
  • 66% of respondents experienced fear regarding their personal financial security.
  • 53% felt a sense of powerlessness or helplessness.
  • 7% reported feeling suicidal. (If you’re feeling suicidal for this or any other reason, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

It’s not surprising that many identity theft victims are annoyed and frustrated by the fact that they have to spend so many hours dealing with a financial problem not caused by them.

Is identity theft protection service worth it?

I say yes. But choosing one depends on what types of financial information you want to protect. Many credit card companies offer cardholders some form of identity theft protection but I would not recommend their services. Typically, the monitoring services offered by credit card companies are inadequate and bare bones.

Review a comparison of our partners (LifeLock and Experian IdentityWorks) that offer identity theft protection services. LifeLock has been in business since 2005 with over 4 million members and offers 3 types of identity theft protection ranging from $9.99 to $29.99 monthly.

LifeLock Ultimate Plus is used in the comparison because this plan is the most comprehensive, offering protection at all three major credit bureaus.

The other is Experian IdentityWorks Premium which costs $19.99 per month for one adult or $29.99 per month for two adults and the most comprehensive.


Credit Monitoring

Experian, Transunion and Equifax credit monitoring. Annual credit report and score from all three bureaus. Monthly credit score tracking from one bureau.

Stolen Funds Replacement

Up to $1 Million.

Dark Web Surveillance

Over 10,000 criminal websitesLifeLock claims to monitor over 10,000 criminal websites.

Social Security Number Monitoring

Social Security Number Trace provides users with a report of all names and aliases associated with their SSN, and notifies them if a new one is added

Bank Account & Credit Card Alerts

New bank account applications. Alerts members if suspicious changes are made to their credit card and bank accounts.

Payday & Loan Monitoring

Alerts customers if a Payday loan has been opened using an element of their identity.

Sex Offender Monitoring

Informs members of all registered Sex Offenders living within their area, and notifies them when a new sex offender is added.

Court Records & Bookings

Tracks municipal court systems and alerts customers if a criminal act is committed under their names in real time.

3-Bureau Credit Scores

Members get annual access to Vantage Credit Scores.

Credit Monitoring

Lock your Experian credit file to help stop unauthorized credit activity and get alerts if anyone tries to apply for credit in your name.

Stolen Funds Replacement

Up to $1 Million

Dark Web Surveillance

Experian uses proprietary technology to detect stolen personal data on over 600,000 Dark Web pages, file-sharing sources, black market forums and more.

Social Security Number Monitoring

Social Security Number Trace provides users with a report of all names and aliases associated with their SSN, and notifies them if a new one is added

Bank Account & Credit Card Alerts

New bank account applications. Alerts members if suspicious changes are made to their credit card and bank accounts.

Payday & Loan Monitoring

Alerts customers if a Payday loan has been opened using an element of their identity.

Sex Offender Monitoring

Informs members of all registered Sex Offenders living within their area, and notifies them when a new sex offender is added.

Court Records & Bookings

Tracks municipal court systems and alerts customers if a criminal act is committed under their names in real time.

3-Bureau Credit Scores

Members can get FICO® Scores every 90 days. Experian sends you customized alerts for when your score changes. FICO® Scores are used in 90% of credit decisions.

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