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Identity theft is on the rise. Last year the Federal Trade Commission saw a 47% increase in complaints of identity theft since 2014. Sure, you might think that you don’t have much to steal since you’re just starting to build your credit, but your credit history is what criminals are looking for. Some of the biggest targets for identity theft are people between the ages of 18 to 24 and those that make over $75,000. Young twentysomethings make up 29% of victims in 2006 and with the rate rising, you may an see an even larger increase of identity theft.
A huge contributor to identity theft is social media. Updating your friends on the places you love to go may seem harmless, but sites like Facebook and Twitter are where identity thieves get your personal info such as your name, location, and even passwords. A study found that 86% of all identity fraud cases are classified as “Internet-enabled,” because criminals use your information to file false credit card applications, insurance claims, and more.
LifeLock Standard™ is $9.99 per month (or $109.99 annually before taxes) and helps prevent thieves from stealing your identity and damaging your finances and credit. For the price of a new outfit per year, LifeLock offers a wide array of services that help keep you secure both IRL and online.
First of all, LifeLock helps protect your social security number, credit cards, driver’s license, public records, and anything else criminals may use to steal your identity. One way your information can be stolen is by criminals accessing your device when you’re using public Wi-Fi at your campus or a local coffee shop. LifeLock also includes web surveillance, which scans known black market databases and malicious websites for your info, whether it’s just your name or your full credit card number. If anything is suspected, you’ll get an immediate fraud alert as a text, phone call, or email.‡‡
LifeLock also has stolen wallet assistance just in case you leave your purse in a dressing room or a restaurant. A criminal can quickly max out your credit cards, so you need to cancel your cards before they have the chance. LifeLock has victim assistance specialist to help walk you through the process 24/7 over the phone. In the unfortunate event that a thief uses your accounts, you can get reimbursements up to $25,000 with an additional $1,000,000 guarantee to support any legal costs to get your identity back.††
Signing up for LifeLock Standard also automatically reduces the amount of pre-approved credit card offers you receive in the mail, leaving room for all those awesome subscription boxes. This is a double win because credit card offers are a huge temptation for twentysomethings, and this is a common way criminals steal your identity.
The Cons of LifeLock
All of this protection for $9.99 seems too good to be true, but there are a couple downfalls. First of all, you don’t get any PC protection through LifeLock, which is a service that competitors offer. You can get services for free through other companies, but it’s nice to have everything bundled into one neat, little package.
Additionally, there are no credit monitoring or score reports, but LifeLock offers credit history reports and other benefits through their LifeLock Advantage plan for $19.99 monthly (although, notably, not credit monitoring).
†† Stolen Funds Reimbursement benefits for State of New York members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by State National Insurance Company. Benefits for all other members are provided under a Master Insurance Policy underwritten by United Specialty Insurance Company. Under the Stolen Funds Reimbursement, LifeLock will reimburse stolen funds up to $25,000 for Standard membership, up to $100,000 for Advantage membership and up to $1 Million for Ultimate Plus membership. Please see the policy for terms, conditions and exclusions at LifeLock.com/legal.
‡‡ Phone alerts made during normal local business hours.
Identity Guard® Essentials costs $8.99 a month. Like LifeLock, Identity Guard monitors your social security number, driver’s license, and registered credit cards. Identity Guard also monitors automobile loan applications in your name before a thief can drive away in a vehicle in your name.
Identity Guard also includes bank account application and cellphone alerts that notify you promptly if someone is applying for an account in your name. You’ll also receive password change notifications for your credit cards and bank account if someone other than you tries to make alterations.
Essentials comes equipped with ID Vault, which is designed to store all of your passwords from prying eyes. No more writing passwords down in your planners or notebooks, especially since your university and email make you change it so often. With a single click, ID Vault remembers every username and password you choose and stores it safely in one place. No more scrambling for a forgotten password!
Stolen wallet assistance is another essential benefit offered by IdentityGuard Essentials, perfect when you go out on the weekend and drink a little too much. Not only will you get help to cancel all of your credit cards, but you’ll also have the ability to get up to $2,000 in cash from your own accounts to help cover any purchases until you get new cards. If anything is stolen, you can receive reimbursements and assistance up to $1,000,000** to re-obtain your identity through a specialist.
Remember when I said that PC protection was important? Well, Identity Guard offers keyboard encryption and PC protection while you’re surfing the web using public Wi-Fi and buying stuff online. You want to get a new Athleisure outfit, not spread your information to any sneaky criminal online. It also comes with an antivirus that helps protect you from keylogging software and malicious applications from stealing your card numbers and social security number.
The Cons of Identity Guard
Identity Guard Essentials has a complete identity theft package, but it does have its shortcomings. First of all, it doesn’t offer 24/7 support. No one wants to wait until the business opens to request assistance, especially if you lost your purse at a party. Plus, there’s no credit protection with this package either. Credit protection and history reports come with the next tier, Identity Guard Total Protection.
**Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.
IdentityForce is a bit pricier than the others, with UltraSecure at $14.95 per month. Since it’s a little more expensive, I get it if you’re worried, but this plan is really comprehensive. It has everything you’d expect for the price and from an identity protection service — UltraSecure helps protects your social security number, credit cards, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and public records similar to the other services.
One of the biggest benefits that IdentityForce offers twentysomethings is payday loan monitoring. Sometimes we need a little help making it from paycheck to paycheck, but no one else should be using your name to get a quick cash loan. (Editors Note: Please avoid payday loans at all cost.)
On top of that, it also provides extra security for your bank accounts to avoid criminals from siphoning out your bill or weekend funds If anything happens to your accounts, IdentityForce sends you an alert — whether it’s a suspected fraud alert or if there is a credit card, bank account, or cell phone application using your info.
One of the best notifications that IdentityForce offers is if someone inquires about your credit. Whenever you apply for a utility service, loan, credit card, apartment, cell phone, anything, the company submits a credit inquiry. If you’re out and about getting things done like a boss and receive a call, text, or email saying that there’s been a credit inquiry, you can a stop a thief before they manage to get a line of credit, loan, or utility in your name.
IdentityForce UltraSecure also has stolen wallet assistance where a professional, who is available 24/7, supports you while you cancel each of your credit cards to avoid theft. You’ll receive $1,000,000 in assistance to minimize the damage should you need legal aid. What makes IdentityForce stand out is the fact that you can also receive lost wages if you need to take off work due to the problem. You can receive up to $1,000 per week in funds to cover any time off work.
Remember when I said credit card offers can be one of the number one ways twentysomethings can have their information stolen? IdentityForce has junk mail opt-out to keep thieves from snatching things out of your mailbox. Plus, you can also use the anti-key-logging and anti-phishing software to stop malware and fake sites that claim you can get free stuff—who doesn’t need free stuff?
Finally, you can get a little more knowledge on how to build your credit, protect your finances, and make responsible financial decisions using their online financial tools. It’s hard being responsible and everyone under the age of 30 knows that, but you can learn quickly and easily using this feature.
Another drawback is that IdentityForce doesn’t have a password vault feature, so you’ll have to rely on your temporal lobe or a piece of paper to keep your passwords in one place.
Like the other basic plans, there are no credit monitoring or score reports, but Identity Force offers credit history reports, monitoring, and other benefits through their top-tier plan, UltraSecure+Credit, for $19.95 monthly.
Which Identity Theft Protection Service is Better?
Overall, it’s impossible to say which is better for you because everyone is different. You may not have $14.95 to spend on identity protection, which makes the cheaper options a much better choice. In the end, it depends on what you need. The online financial tools offered by IdentityForce could help you make good financial decisions and protect your online shopping, even when using public Wi-Fi.
LifeLock and Identity Guard have comparable services for just $9.99 per month. If you’re the type to start something and leave it be, LifeLock may be the option for you since the alerts send you a message when the company suspects fraud. Set it and forget it. However, if you live your entire life online (shopping, subscription boxes, Amazon), the PC protection and keyboard encryption that Identity Guard and Identity Force provide may be invaluable.
Consider what each service offers for the price and determine if you’re willing to spend that much per month or annually. Your lifestyle should also play a huge role in determining which service is right. Doing a lot of online shopping puts you at risk, so you’ll want alerts that let you know if something has occurred with your bank or credit accounts. Protecting your identity is essential and shouldn’t be put on the back burner. Since you’re just starting out your credit age and history, you want to make sure thieves don’t have a chance to do damage.