Our series on identity theft protection apps will evaluate the features, pricing options, competition, and also the overall value of using each app. However, these are not full hands-on reviews since evaluating identity theft protection apps is almost impossible. It would require several months of testing, purposefully hacking accounts to see if the protection app works, handing over personally identifiable information, performing multiple credit checks, and risking exposure of the reviewer’s personally identifiable information.
It would not be a stretch to say that Norton and Symantec are the most trusted names in consumer safety and security. Symantec (which is now called Norton LifeLock as of last year) started way back in 1982 and the name Norton is easily recognizable. While that all might seem like a marketing and branding comment, it does provide some assurances with the Norton LifeLock identity theft protection app. It’s a trusted brand, and that is helpful when it comes to trusting that the software will protect your personal information.
- Want to try Norton LifeLock? Check out the website here
Plans and pricing
One issue you might discover right away with Norton LifeLock is that there are too many paid plans available. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the quality of the product, but it does mean you have to decide what level of protection you really need. Also confusing is the fact that LifeLock is available if you purchase the Norton 360 virus protection app (which includes LifeLock Select, the second-tier version of the product) and the VPN client.
The LifeLock Standard plan includes up to $25,000 of theft protection insurance, covers one device, and includes credit check monitoring and protection against social security number theft. LifeLock Select mirrors the pricing per month but adds a VPN client and protection for up to five devices. (The price for the first year between Standard and Select is the same, but goes up after that to $12 per month for Standard and $15 per month for Select.)
If you are not already confused, the paid plans then ratchet up even further. The Advantage plan costs $20 per month and adds $100,000 of protection, a 10-device limit for connections, and alerts for bank fraud and when someone commits a crime in your name. The $30 Ultimate Plus plan (we’re still waiting for the Ultimate Super Deluxe plan), you gain access to credit bureau monitoring for up to three services, $1 million in protection, 401K protection, and unlimited connections from all of the devices you own for LifeLock and the VPN.
Norton has been at this for a long time. The familiar yellow interface, which I’m sure they have copyrighted somehow, forms the initial impression – it’s a color that denotes warning and caution, as though you are in a construction zone. The LifeLock dashboard presents all of the features and options in a clear and appealing way, but that ubiquitous yellow color is always there reminding you that this is a serious topic. In the privacy section, for example, you can quickly scan through the options and enable features for protecting credit cards and your phone. You can drill down to another area to see your personally identifiable information.
One major irony with all of this is that you really should use a VPN when you are using any identity theft protection app. By including Norton Secure VPN at the Select plan level, you can be more confident about typing in all of your credit cards and bank info. Not many identity theft protection apps include a free VPN; some offer it as an add-on with a monthly fee.
Many of the features available in LifeLock match up with the standard offerings of apps like IdentityForce and IDShield, but they are presented in a familiar interface and with a professional gloss that is hard to ignore. Care and attention went into the interface, which makes you trust that there is a well-established company protecting your personal information.
That said, many of the features match up with IDShield and IdentityForce, to name just two options. LifeLock includes the credit bureau monitoring of those apps, features related to crimes reported in your name, and (at the highest LifeLock plan) 401K protection.
However, IDShield goes a few steps further. That app also offers consultations with crime prevention experts and social media monitoring that some of the identity theft protection apps don’t offer. And, many of the monitoring and tracking features of other apps are available in the more basic paid plans but are only offered with the LifeLock upper tier plans.
Like Facebook and Google, it is hard to name a security company – at least for consumer protection – that has the instant name recognition of Norton and LifeLock. Part of the reason is because there are commercials on network television for this app. Part of the reason is that the company formerly known as Symantec has been around for decades. Anyone who used computers in the formative years of Windows and the Mac remembers the Norton brand.
That means any other identity theft protection app has to compete with one of the most trusted names in consumer security. The most well-known brand is Intuit with the identity theft protection offered through TurboTax. Other apps like IdentityForce and IDShield don’t have the household name recognition but do offer very similar features. ADT is a well-known brand for physical home security but they also offer an identity theft protection app.
And, the interface in LifeLock is arguably easier to use, more professional, and cleaner, which means you will likely find more of the options available in fewer clicks.
The summary here is that every other identity theft protection app has to compete with Norton LifeLock on features (which are remarkably similar between the apps) but mostly on brand name recognition, which is much higher with Norton LifeLock. The paid plans can be confusing – you are forced to pick the one you want at the price you can afford, even though you might not even know which plan meets your needs for personal security. In the end, it’s the clearly designed interface that won us over – every feature is easy to find and use.
- Also check out our complete list of the best identity theft protection services