Frequency of credit reports: Equifax daily, other two monthly
Frequency of credit scores: Equifax daily, other two monthly
Credit-improvement simulator: No
Address-change monitoring: Yes
Data breach alerts: Yes
Investment account monitoring: Yes
Medical records monitoring: Yes
Payday loan monitoring: Yes
Sex offender alert: Yes
Security software: Norton 360 Deluxe antivirus suite for all devices
Title-change alerts: Yes
Two-factor authentication: No
The name "Norton 360 with LifeLock" might be a mouthful, but the service comprehensively protects your computers, your mobile device and your identity. Until recently, it lagged a bit in credit monitoring, but has caught up with its rivals, and LifeLock's top-end plan watches your files with all three major credit agencies.
That plan, Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus, also keeps an eye on your bank, investment and credit-card accounts, as well as your home title, while letting you quickly lock your TransUnion credit file with a few mouse clicks. It even lets you know if someone is trying to steal your phone number.
If your identity is stolen while you're protected by LifeLock, the company's insurance plan will reimburse you for up to $3 million in lost funds, lost wages and the expenses of setting your identity straight.
On the other hand, the Ultimate Plus program is rather expensive and doesn't quite measure up on service and support, even though it ranks highly in our list of the best identity theft protection services. It recently switched from providing credit reports only once a year (which the credit agencies already did for free) to providing them daily for Equifax and monthly for Experian and TransUnion.
Our Editors' Choice, IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit, provides quarterly credit reports from all three bureaus and offers most of the identity protections LifeLock Ultimate Plus has, but for a lot less than what LifeLock charges.
Read on for the rest of our LifeLock review.
LifeLock: Costs and what's covered
LifeLock has dozens of plans available, but many are legacy products you can no longer sign up for.
The company's four main plans start with LifeLock Standard, a standalone identity-theft-protection service that includes basics such as dark-web monitoring, Norton's Privacy Monitor and monitoring of your Equifax credit file. It provides up to $1 million for identity-restoration help, $25,000 for lost funds and $25,000 for expenses.
Using LifeLock Standard costs $12 a month or $125 annually, with discounts for the first year. That's reasonable, but you can get similar protection from IdentityIQ's Secure plan for $7 per month.
LifeLock's Select, Advantage and Ultimate Plus plans all include the Norton 360 Deluxe security suite to provide as close to full digital protection as exists.
If you don't already have antivirus software, getting it as part of a LifeLock package is not a bad deal. (You can get Advantage and Ultimate Plus without Norton 360, but you'll save only $10 a year at most.)
Norton 360 Deluxe normally costs about $100 a year on its own and includes unlimited virtual private network (VPN) access, a password manager, online backup space and excellent malware protection for PCs, Macs and iOS and Android devices.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select sells for $15 a month, or $150 a year, with discounts for the first year. Its identity protections and insurance covers are the same as the Standard plan, but it comes with Norton 360 Deluxe for five systems and 100GB of online storage space.
The Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage plan bumps up the lost-funds and expenses insurance coverage to $100,000 each. Advantage covers up to 10 systems with Norton 360 Deluxe, monitors your bank and credit-card accounts and provides 250GB of cloud storage.
It also adds LifeLock's new Phone Takeover Monitoring, which lets you know if someone is trying to steal your phone number by switching your number to a new carrier or a new SIM card. Because phone numbers are (unfortunately) tied to identity, a stolen number can often lead to fraudulent purchases, hijacked online accounts or even cryptocurrency theft.
LifeLock Advantage dips its toe further into credit monitoring with one Equifax credit report and one VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on that report every month. It costs $25 a month or $250 a year, with first-year discounts.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus is one of the most complete identity-theft-protection packages you can get. It adds a sex-offender alert and home-title monitoring, checks on your investment accounts and covers you up to $1 million for identity help, $1 million for lost funds and $1 million for expenses — each. It includes an unlimited number of licenses for Norton 360 as well as 500GB of online storage space.
It fully embraces credit monitoring, keeping an eye on your files at all three credit bureaus and providing daily Equifax credit reports and VantageScore 3.0 credit scores. Experian and TransUnion credit reports and credit scores are available monthly. But at $35 a month or $350 a year, LifeLock Ultimate Plus is among the most expensive identity-theft-protection plans around.
The most recent additions are the Norton 360 with LifeLock for Family plans, which cover two adults and, optionally, as many as five children up to age 17. But be ready to pay a lot.
The Select Family plan costs $275 a year or $27 a month without kids, and $390 a year or $39 a month with kids. The Advantage Family plan sells for $490 a year or $48 a month for a couple, and $600 a year or $60 a month with kids. Finally, the top-of-the-line Ultimate Plus Family plan goes for $690 a year or $70 a month without kids, and $820 a year or $82 a month with kids.
By comparison, IdentityForce's family plans, the pricier of which is similar to LifeLock Ultimate Plus, cost $25 and $36 per month, albeit with no yearly discounts. IdentityIQ Secure Max has fewer identity-protection features but more credit monitoring and covers up to three kids for $30 per month.
LifeLock also has a Junior plan to cover individual children up to 18 years old, which costs $6 per month or $65 annually per child. It mirrors the Advantage plan with up to $100,000 for the restitution of stolen funds but lacks any kind of credit monitoring or antivirus software.
Founded in 2005, LifeLock had a checkered first decade, with one co-founder resigning for telling questionable tales about his past and the other having his identity stolen numerous times after he put his Social Security number on billboards to demonstrate his faith in LifeLock's powers.
In 2008, Experian sued LifeLock for allegedly abusing the credit bureau's fraud-alert system; the case was later settled out of court. The Federal Trade Commission fined LifeLock twice, first in 2010 for deceptive advertising and not properly securing customer data, and then again in 2015 for not adhering to the terms of the settlement reached after the first fine.
Symantec, former parent company of Norton, bought LifeLock in 2017, and the negative headlines dried up. But the firm still scores a 2.5 out of a possible 5 on the Consumer Affairs website. It recently garnered an F from the Better Business Bureau, although it now has an A+ rating. The BBB site still displays many recent negative customer reviews and complaints about continued billing after service cancellations.
Norton LifeLock said that the recent F grade was the result of not receiving BBB notifications during its transition from the enterprise-oriented Symantec (sold to Broadcom in 2019) to the current consumer-focused NortonLifeLock corporate structure. Either way, the company has a lot of work to do in the customer support and service department.
|LifeLock Standard||Norton 360 with LifeLock Select||Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage||Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus|
|Family plan||n/a||$39, 2 adults and up to 5 kids||$60, 2 adults and up to 5 kids||$82, 2 adults and up to 5 kids|
|Credit reports provided||None||None||Equifax||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Credit bureaus monitored||Equifax||Equifax||Equifax||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Frequency of credit reports & scores||None||None||Monthly||Daily for Equifax, monthly for other two|
|Type of credit score||None||None||VantageScore 3.0||VantageScore 3.0|
|Bank, card accounts monitored||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sex offender alert||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Security software||None||Norton 360 Deluxe antivirus suite for five devices||Norton 360 Deluxe antivirus suite for 10 devices||Norton 360 Deluxe antivirus suite for all devices|
|Investment account monitoring||No||No||No||Yes|
|Court record monitoring||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Max. ID-theft coverage||$1 million||$1 million||$1 million||$1 million|
|Max. expenses coverage||$25,000||$25,000||$100,000||$1 million|
|Max. monetary loss payout||$25,000||$25,000||$100,000||$1 million|
LifeLock: How we tested
In the late summer of 2020, I signed up with five of the biggest identity-theft-protection services, including the Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus plan. All the subscriptions were paid for by me and later reimbursed by Tom's Guide.
After I installed the LifeLock mobile app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 20, I logged in most days using the app or my Lenovo ThinkPad T470 computer over the course of three months. In addition to checking on LifeLock's alerts, notifications and changes to my credit and identity status, I checked my credit scores.
I used the utilities and antivirus software. However, LifeLock doesn't provide any credit simulators to try out what-if scenarios, so I couldn't test those. Finally, I checked in with the LifeLock support staff and recorded how long it took them to respond. At the end, I cancelled the service and took note of how easy that process was.
LifeLock: Credit scores and identity monitoring
LifeLock's strengths lie more in identity-theft-protection than in credit monitoring. Until the summer of 2021, after we initially posted this review, getting a credit report from any of the Big Three credit bureaus with LifeLock's top Ultimate Plus plan happened only once a year — no better than what you can get for free from annualcreditreport.com.
LifeLock must have realized that its rivals were outdistancing it with more frequent credit reports and scores, so in June 2021 it boosted the frequency of Equifax credit reports and scores to monthly for LifeLock Advantage subscribers, and daily for LifeLock Ultimate Plus subscribers. Ultimate Plus also now gets Experian and TransUnion credit reports and scores monthly.
Those credit scores use the VantageScore 3.0 model, which is not quite the same as the FICO credit-score models that most lenders still use. But they roughly parallel the FICO scores.
In terms of identity protection, LifeLock scans the open and "dark" portions of the web for more than 100 different types of personal data, such as your name, Social Security number, street addresses, email addresses and even, as of recently, gamer tags.
There's also Home Title Monitoring, which looks for signs that someone is trying to remove or add your name on a property deed or home title or attempting to refinance your mortgage. This service comes included with LifeLock Ultimate Plus; otherwise, you can subscribe to Home Title Monitoring as a stand-alone service for $100 per year.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus also monitors your bank, investment and credit-card accounts, watches for U.S. Postal Service address changes, checks with payday-loan companies and peer-to-peer lending operations online.
It can alert you of unusual activity on financial accounts and of changes in recurring charges. It also keeps an eye on people-search sites like Spokeo and Intellius for indications that your name or other data might pop up too frequently.
LifeLock: Insurance and services
While its competitors limit their identity-theft insurance payouts to $1 million for lost funds, lost wages and expenses together, LifeLock Ultimate Plus triples the potential amount of coverage to restore your identity and credit.
It has three separate buckets of money that include up to $1 million for the costs of identity restoration (including fees for lawyers, experts and accountants), up to $1 million for expenses (like travel, court fees, lost work and the costs new documents) and $1 million for money lost directly to identity thieves.
LifeLock: Notifications and alerts
LifeLock's alerts can reach you via email, text message or phone call, or may be displayed in the web interface or the mobile app. Alert thresholds can be adjusted so that they don't overwhelm you or cause you to miss important notices.
LifeLock can inform you of account takeovers, improper loans and known sex offenders living nearby, as well as of problems with investments, bank accounts and credit cards.
LifeLock will even notify you about recent data breaches at your bank or credit-card issuer, whether your password has appeared on lists of stolen credentials sold online, and, as detailed already, whether someone is trying to steal your mobile phone number.
Over my three-month test period, I received nine alerts from LifeLock, including a phone notification for a new mortgage I was applying for. That alert sounded like a warning about my credit, but when I checked with the app, it had all the data I needed to see that it was legit.
Although the LifeLock installation process can feel disjointed because it has separate installation procedures for LifeLock and the Norton 360 security software, it is quick. It took me a little over 16 minutes to have everything set up.
I first went to the LifeLock site and chose the Ultimate Plus plan, paying monthly. Then I entered my email address and was given the option to add a spouse and children.
I paid for my subscription with a credit card, although I could have used PayPal. The site then wanted my password, home address and phone number, followed by my Social Security number and date of birth.
After I agreed to the terms and conditions for the LifeLock subscription and then for the Norton 360 software, it took the site about 30 seconds to process the order and congratulate me on my success.
I wasn't done yet, because I needed to load Norton 360 onto my computer. This involved downloading, installing and activating the software. A more integrated installation would have helped.
At this point, I was able to decline to participate in Norton's Community Watch service. This way the company won't copy items from my system to be used in warning of dangerous code.
LifeLock includes 24/7 support for its products and the Ultimate Plus plan adds priority care. While there's a toll-free number and chat window, you can forget about emailing a question or problem to them.
My experience with LifeLock customer support was mixed. I signed onto a chat window to correct a log-in problem. After 20 confusing minutes during which the technician tried to get me to install the software that I already had installed, I was told to call the support line. After going through the automated attendant and waiting 6 minutes, the people on the phone cleared it up in an additional 10 minutes.
If you'd rather try to fix things on your own, the Norton site has lots of DIY items such as videos and troubleshooting help.
LifeLock: Interface and utilities
Regardless of whether you use LifeLock's browser-based online interface or its mobile apps, you'll need use the my.norton.com entry portal. The online interface tries to squeeze too much information into too small a space. Be ready to zoom out to take it all in or to scroll up and down a lot. You get to choose between the traditional horizontal Norton layout or a vertical approach.
The LifeLock web portal dashboard shows Alerts & Notifications, Credit Score, Monitor Financial Transactions and the Privacy Monitor service. The Credit Score & Report section shows your most recent Equifax VantageScore 3.0 credit rating, as well as any recent inquiries made for your credit files with all three bureaus.
My favorite feature is the Privacy Monitor, which ekes out data from 25 data brokers to see if any of your personal data shows up. It showed several instances of my data in the wrong places.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus and LifeLock Advantage include the ability to initiate a TransUnion credit lock straight from the web interface. Although it's not as comprehensive as a credit freeze, a credit lock puts your credit file off-limits to all comers, and TransUnion's lock is free.
To start a more encompassing freeze, which is also free and offers more legal protections than a credit lock, LifeLock has links to the three credit bureaus.
LifeLock's mobile apps have improved tremendously. They now fill the screen at full resolution and run horizontally for more flexibility. Rather than putting current credit scores in your face, the mobile dashboard in the LifeLock Identity app is a portal to all LifeLock offers, with links to everything from Device Security to ID Theft Protection to Credit Score & Report.
That LifeLock Identity app takes a step towards consolidating the features of other Norton apps, like the VPN and online backup. There still are separate LifeLock and Norton 360 apps available in both the Apple and Google Play app stores, should you prefer to use those instead. The LifeLock stand-alone app doesn't seem to be as updated as frequently as the other two.
LifeLock still does not offer two-factor authentication (2FA) as an optional security protection for the online account. This is a feature that IdentityForce has had for years.
Finally, as thorough and deep as the Norton 360 with LifeLock packages are, none has a credit simulator or loan calculator to map out different future financial scenarios.
These simple tools, common in other identity-theft-protection and credit-monitoring services, can go a long way to answering practical day-to-day financial and credit questions.
I was able to cancel my LifeLock subscription by going to the My Subscriptions page and clicking Cancel Membership Renewal. Alternatively, I could have called LifeLock's tech support line.
After providing a reason for ending the subscription, I twice had to confirm my intention to end the service. I received an email confirming my cancellation, which took effect at the end of the next billing cycle.
LifeLock review: Bottom line
LifeLock's identity-theft-protection service has been thoroughly overhauled, and we're glad to see that the pricier plans now deliver full credit reports more than once a year.
The inclusion of Norton 360 antivirus software adds a lot of value to LifeLock's rather expensive plans, and the combination of the two offers some of the most complete security and identity defenses you can get today.
If you're looking for actual FICO scores and credit simulators to tell you which bills should be paid first and how likely you are to get a big loan, MyFICO may better fit the bill. If you crave frequent credit reports at a lower price, yet with robust identity-theft protections and with the peace of mind that two-factor authentication brings to your account, then IdentityForce does the trick.
Otherwise, the Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus plan is the most comprehensive way to protect your identity and your devices as well.
Updated to add greater frequency of credit reports and scores and Phone Takeover Monitoring. This review was originally posted in April 2021.