Identity Guard vs. Life Lock
Monitoring your credit is the best way to make sure that you have not become the victim of identity theft. By keeping an eye on your credit score, you can ensure that there are no fraudulent charges and that your score is accurate.
Although it’s possible to check your credit for free once a year, many people prefer the peace of mind of having a real-time credit monitoring program. A program like this monitors your credit and sends you an alert any time it changes. This allows you to act quickly any time your credit is affected so that you can counteract the effects of fraud.
Although there are numerous credit monitoring programs available, two of the most popular are Identity Guard and Life Lock. Although similar in many ways, there are a few distinct differences between these programs. By understanding these differences, you can decide which is best to suit your needs.
The newer of the two programs, Lifelock is also less expensive. A subscription to the service costs $15 a month. Under that subscription, Lifelock will monitor and protect your personal information such as your address, SSN, bank account information and public records. Because the company knows that preventing identity theft is impossible, it focuses instead on monitoring your information and alerting you whenever suspicious activity occurs.
It’s important to note that Lifelock actually doesn’t monitor or report on your credit score. Instead, it sets up fraud alerts with all three credit bureaus. These fraud alerts mean that creditors must individually contact the credit-holder to confirm a request for credit. While this service is helpful, it does have some limitations.
First, the fraud alert only works for opening new lines of credit; not using an existing line such as a stolen credit card. Second, the alert does not freeze the account, and not all credit providers are diligent about calling the credit holder. This makes fraud alerts only about 75% effective.
One of the oldest credit monitoring programs, Identity Guard doesn’t have the same aggressive marketing strategy as Lifelock, so it may not be as well-known. It is the older service, however, and many people regard it as better. A monthly subscription costs $17.99 and provides all of the same services as Lifelock; it also provides unlimited access to your credit report.
This unlimited access is worthwhile. Normally, a person is only able to check his credit once a year. Through Identity Guard, a person can monitor his credit constantly. On the other hand, Identity Guard does not offer fraud alerts. It relies instead on empowering the consumer with information about his credit and allowing that individual to make the necessary steps to handle any fraudulent activity.
Ultimately, each company has its own benefits and drawbacks. For people who are primarily interested in monitoring their credit, Identity Guard is much more effective. On the other hand, the fraud guard provided by Lifelock provides a person with more security against new accounts being opened by identity thieves.
These are not the only two credit monitoring and identity protection services available. Although these are the best known, many other companies provide service as well. The best way to decide on the right credit monitoring service is to read the fine print and determine exactly what is covered by an individual provider. That way you can be assured that the program is really worth the cost.