By Keith Morris
Updated: July 13, 2021
When it comes to identity theft protection and monitoring, Identity Guard and LifeLock are two of the biggest names in the business. The question a lot of potential customers might ask themselves is obvious.
Which is better: Identity Guard or LifeLock?
On the surface, both of these services are very similar, but they have some very significant differences in philosophy and approach to exactly how they aim to protect you.
As a result, this is mostly a judgment you’ll need to make for yourself based on all the information, but based on our extensive testing:
For most people it’s going to be Identity Guard.
The quick and dirty is that Identity Guard overall provides a lot more bang for your buck across more categories, with:
- Better threat resolution
- Better and more accurate monitoring
- More thorough customer service
Here’s why that matters:
It can be difficult to detect when your identity has been compromised. There’s a lot bad actors can do without alerting you, and by the time it gets to the more obvious stuff (bank accounts being drained, strange loans showing up on your credit report, SSN theft, audits from the IRS, and so on) it’s time to take drastic measures.
Having a service with competent threat resolution experts standing behind you, and who can catch things before they become a problem in the first place is the difference between your finances being ruined for years or even decades, and a minor speed bump you can sort out with some effort.
While LifeLock is a solid service in its own right, it falls short in a couple of key areas that hold it back by comparison.
Why You Should Trust Us: How We Test Each Product
Home Security Heroes uses a simple, but effective testing process for each of these identity theft protection services using data gathered with hands on, direct experience with each product.
We strive to ensure that all information is as accurate and up to date as possible, and is formed from not just educated guesses but reflect a real user’s experience as closely as possible.
Learn more about the details of our extensive testing and research process here.
Why It’s Critical To Use Identity Theft Protection?
Identity theft is a real and insidious threat that touches on the lives of millions of people in the US, and more throughout the world. Everyone should strive to protect themselves not just on the internet, but in their day to day lives.
Here are some great resources on why it’s important to have identity theft protection:
5 Most Common Types of Identity Theft
Why Identity Theft Is The Fastest Growing Crime in America
Identity Theft Statistics
FTC Says ID Theft Doubled From 2019 to 2020 (AARP)
Consumers Lost $56 Billion To ID Theft in 2020 (CNBC)
An identity theft protection service acts as a whole network of people watching your back for threats, and provides access to skilled professionals that can help you get your life back if your identity is stolen.
Identity Guard vs LifeLock: Head to Head Comparison
With that in mind, let’s start going over these services’ respective features and compare Identity Guard and LifeLock head to head.
|Criteria||Identity Guard||Norton LifeLock|
|View Deal||Save 33% on Identity Guard||Save 25% on LifeLock|
Accessibility: Identity Guard
This is a quick measure of how easy the services are to navigate. Both are pretty good about this, but their websites are wildly different.
Of particular note, LifeLock comes with an app which can be installed on various devices, which also allows for control of some of its extra features, including the Norton 360 antivirus system it comes bundled with.
Norton LifeLock Dashboard
Keep in mind here that while this is a nice extra, that’s mostly what it is. Many of these extras come free from competitors (like AVG or Credit Karma for credit scores), so the main benefit here isn’t in added protection, but a bit of convenience.
Having everything available in one place will save you a few clicks, but in the long run isn’t something to factor in when you’re trying to judge a service on its identity protection merits.
For that reason, things like added antivirus services or multi-bureau credit reports are going to be weighted much lower than more immediately relevant features.
This app is pretty easy to navigate, and gives you quick access to some of its core features, though ultimately most of them just led to the website anyway, so there’s not much point to using it except when it comes to the specific Norton 360 services.
Norton LifeLock Alerts Page
The website dashboard is simply laid out and easy to navigate, but nothing special, and the different tabs do need to be clicked on individually, with a short loading time (under a second with fast internet) before each comes up.
If you have good internet, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you have a spotty connection it can be a pain, making its usage on the go ill advised if you have some urgent need to access multiple tabs, like if you’ve just received a major alert. In that case, it may be better to simply call customer support immediately instead of fiddling around with the website on your phone.
Identity Guard Dashboard
Identity Guard seems to have spent a bit more time on its website’s layout, giving you a very good overview of your basic information before you even start shifting tabs.
You can view all available alerts, the status of any activated options, all of your credit scores, and even social media login info before even leaving the dashboard, as seen above.
The layout of the dashboard is also significantly nicer to look at, requiring much less scrolling than LifeLock’s main page, which puts everything in-line. Overall, this results in a far better user experience.
The tabs up top all bring drop down boxes that are simple to navigate and tell you exactly what page or service you’re navigating to, so there’s no wasted motion. They do have a pretty useful app as well.
In the end, both websites and apps do their job well enough, but Identity Guard has a slight edge here I think just for giving you a bit more information from the main page.
User Experience & Accessibility Comparison
|Criteria||Identity Guard||Norton LifeLock|
|Access to Alerts|
|Layout & UX|
Winner: Identity Guard
Navigating the Identity Guard website is much easier and faster, making it easier to get things done when you need it. Since you never need to leave the dashboard to view most basic info, it’s easy just to pull up the main page on your phone and take in everything you need to know at a glance.
Monitoring and Alerts: Identity Guard
Here we get to the real meat of the services, and it’s where Identity Guard really starts to shine. In terms of the monitoring services offered, and how well it executes on them, Identity Guard blows LifeLock out of the water.
As part of the Ultimate plan, Identity Guard offers dark web monitoring, data breach alerts, bank account and high risk transaction monitoring (including credit and debit card monitoring for up to 10 cards), 401(k) and investment monitoring, criminal and sex offender registry monitoring, social media insight reports (analyzing your social media habits and keeping an eye on the accounts), USPS address change monitoring (mail fraud protection, essentially), and home title monitoring.
Identity Guard Monitoring
To its credit, Norton’s LifeLock offers most of these just with its Advantage plan, losing out on the 401(k) investment monitoring and home title monitoring, which are available with the Ultimate Plus plan (losing the pricing edge, but making up for the feature loss). None of LifeLock’s services offer the social media insights report, but it offers file sharing network monitoring (for services like Dropbox).
So, on paper, the two services are pretty equal. If you don’t need the 401(k) and Home Title Monitoring services, LifeLock even has an edge, since you can stick with the Advantage plan and save about 33%. Based on the prices using our affiliate links, the final total would be $15.99 monthly for an annual subscription to LifeLock, and $20.99 for Identity Guard, which adds up a lot over a year.
In practice, however, things are different. Take a look at the respective alert pages for these services.
That is Identity Guard on the left, and LifeLock on the right. Both of these services have access to the same information. The five alerts thrown up by Identity Guard are known issues which were not detected at all by Norton LifeLock.
This tells me that while the services are nominally the same in what they track, Identity Guard is much more thorough and accurate in its reading, keeping a much closer eye on your information and throwing up relevant alerts so you can take steps to correct the issues.
In addition, Identity Guard also gave us a clear Risk Management Score (shown below) which was very helpful.
Threat Monitoring & Alerts Comparison
|Criteria||Monitoring Test Results|
|Identity Guard|| |
5 Alerts Shown Immediately
|Norton Lifelock|| |
Winner: Identity Guard.
This is by far the most important category for an identity theft protection service. Nothing else matters if there’s a gap in the monitoring. Without knowing there’s a problem, you can take no steps to rectify any of the problems that are thrown up.
If there was a data breach that leaked your bank a account’s username and password, in one of the worst case scenarios, Identity Guard would throw you an alert immediately, where going by our tests LifeLock would throw them up too late or even not at all. Nearly two weeks after signing up, Norton was eventually able to throw up some (but not all) of the same alerts. This is far too late to matter.
Threat Resolution Services: Identity Guard
Both services are pretty solid when it comes to helping you resolve various threats. Particularly, both Identity Guard and LifeLock have excellent customer service and identity recovery specialists available to help resolve issues.
LifeLock has a slight edge in that these specialists are available 24/7, while Identity Guard, if you have the Ultimate plan, includes “White Glove Concierge Service”; a representative whose whole attention will be focused on you and your problems rather than being beholden to the usual call center demands and need to wrap up calls within a certain amount of time.
My experience with the two was that both were quick to access; I was only on hold for a few minutes for each service, though this may be because I took advantage of the ability to call LifeLock at very late hours and still get a call.
Both had courteous, professional customer support representatives, though I found the identity Guard representative was better able to answer my questions off the top of their head rather than needing a moment to double check options.
Ultimately, both are good, but Identity Guard seems to have better trained agents on staff available to call directly, which is what you’d expect from something billed as a concierge service.
A special bonus to Norton here for having a 24/7 text chat option available via their website. This is perfect if you are uncomfortable talking on the phone, or are in a situation where you can’t easily talk out loud (at work, on the bus, at night when everyone else is asleep, and so on).
LifeLock offers 24/7 text chat option
Both services offer credit freeze options, with LifeLock having a distinctly better option in this regard with their Identity Lock service, which acts as a sort of “soft freeze” to your Transunion credit report until you unlock it.
Unlike a credit freeze, which requires a pretty painstaking process to both activate and deactivate it (meaning it cannot be done casually), a credit lock can be toggled on and off at any time. This means you could theoretically keep your credit locked permanently, toggling it off for a day or two any time you need to apply for a loan or something similar, and then toggling it back on when everything is finalized.
This is just as secure, but infinitely more convenient for the user.
LifeLock’s Identity Lock Service
The large number of options here is great to see, and allows you to both preemptively protect yourself, and react quickly to any alerts that pop up to minimize any damage done.
Identity Guard also offers credit freeze capability, but it’s harder to navigate than LifeLock’s.
Identity Guard’s Credit Freeze
You get the same number of options, but laid out in a more annoying way on this one. A minor gripe, but one worth noting, especially when it’s going to be an added source of frustration to an already stressful situation.
In addition to these services, Identity Guard also offers a Wallet Protection service, which is very nice. If your wallet is lost or stolen you can talk to a representative, who will help you go through everything you have and cancel cards, order replacements, and keep an extra eye on the information that may have been gleaned from your wallet (driver’s license info, hints to passwords and security questions due to family information, and stuff like that) so you can minimize the damage.
That pushes Identity Guard out ahead in my book, since it provides a significantly more robust suite of options, with only a few minor hiccups in how the site layout is presented; a small price to pay for an increase in options.
Threat Resolution & Customer Support Comparison
|Criteria||Identity Guard||Norton LifeLock|
|Excellent Customer Service|
|White Glove Concierge Service|
|Wallet Protection Service|
|$1 Million Coverage For All Plans|
Winner: Identity Guard.
They simply provide you with more options to resolve any issues that may crop up. Think of this as having more tools in your toolbox. While you may not need a power drill, a handsaw, a soldering iron, and a full collection of socket wrenches for every job, chances are if you’re a DIYer you’re going to need at least one of them for ANY job. Having the right selection of tools to choose from is the difference between success and failure at any stage.
How Does Each Handle What Happens If You Do Get Your Identity Stolen?
While we’ve already talked about the threat resolution services they offer, it’s worth going into a bit more detail about exactly how each service goes about helping the user if it does come about that you get hacked or your identity is compromised in another way.
Let’s start with insurance, or “stolen funds reimbursement” as it’s billed.
In the case of LifeLock, that does appear to be what it is. If money is directly stolen from you, they will reimburse an amount equal to that, up to a limit based on your account type. That is $25, 000 for the Select plan, $100,000 for the Advantage plan, and up to $1 million in stolen money for the Ultimate Plus plan.
LifeLock doesn’t clarify this anywhere that we can find, even inside of the account itself, so it appears that that is the limit of its coverage. If someone takes $25, 000 directly from your bank accounts, they will give you that money back. Simple.
For Identity Guard, things are more complicated, but perhaps more useful. Identity Guard goes into quite a bit of detail over what its $1 million insurance policy (standardized across all account types) entails.
Their insurance covers, to varying degrees: lost wages (accrued from needing to take days ro partial days off to solve the issue), any documentation fees (needing to order a new driver’s license, get copies of medical records, etc.), cost of care for the elderly or minors, legal fees, and a slew of other things that may cost you money that can be described as “reasonable and necessary costs incurred by you” in the course of solving any identity theft crisis. This is, of course, in addition to the same lost funds reimbursement that LifeLock offers for cash and funds directly siphoned from your accounts.
That is an insanely thorough and flexible tool in your pocket, and it’s kind of surprising that they don’t elaborate more on this in their feature overview.
Besides the insurance or reimbursement options, the main way both services help you is by providing a team of specialists who are on call to help you get your life back on track.
These specialists provide information on things you can (or will have to) handle on your own, and things their specialists can help you do, taking a lot off your plate in terms of phone calls you need to make and various bureaus that need to be contacted.
Identity Guard provides an extra service in the form of a “Wallet Protection” team, who help keep the call queue moving faster. It’s a team dedicated to specifically helping you mitigate the issues that come with having a wallet that is lost or stolen; canceling and reordering cards, getting a new copy of your driver’s license, and so on.
Both have skilled professionals ready and waiting to walk you through any steps you need to take, from the obvious to the more obtuse options. This will vary based on what actually happened. If a social media account was hacked, for instance, they may help you take a look at all of the accounts on file, and prompt you for more, and walk you through the process of creating new, secure passwords for all of your accounts and finding good ways to store them.
Identity Guard is best contacted via phone. They have limited phone hours, but otherwise can be contacted via email.
LifeLock has a nice alternative: 24/7 chat, in addition to the 24/7 phone line. This helps if you’re not in a huge hurry or can’t talk on the phone at the moment, as it allows you access to an agent who can answer quick questions without needing to wait on hold on your phone.
Both are, in other words, easy to contact and extremely helpful no matter what problems you may have.
Just keep in mind that their powers are limited; in some cases all they can offer is advice and actions that you need to take. Be sure to take any advice you receive seriously, and don’t procrastinate on it.
Additional Services: LifeLock
This is one category where LifeLock wins handily, on paper. LifeLock subscriptions come with a free subscription to Norton 360, Norton’s PC health and antivirus service. This gives you the ability to scan your computer for threats, help optimize its performance, and do stuff like manage your passwords and backup your computer’s info from the app.
Identity Guard doesn’t have any services unrelated to the total identity theft package, so in this regard LifeLock is the clear winner.
Both Norton’s Lifelock and Identity Guard have three service tiers, scaling up in price the more services they offer. Each also has family plans which allow a variable number of people to be bundled into a single plan.
Note: Our exclusive offers can save you a lot of money on both tools and we have compared the pricing based on these offers.
Across the board prices are comparable, with Identity Guard’s three tiers (Value, Total, and Ultra) costing pretty much the same as LifeLock’s Select, Advantage, and Ultimate Plus membership tiers. Identity Guard has a slight edge in price at all tiers however if you search for the right discounts, with the Identity Guard Value plan being cheaper by almost $2 per month than LifeLock’s Select plan, and the price gap widening from there.
This is exacerbated by a lot of pricing weirdness with LifeLock, where they seem to try and make it as obtuse as possible to figure out what you’re actually paying and how to get the best deal. Finding a discount for Identity Guard is easy (you can get 33% off an annual subscription, or 20% off a month to month here). Discounts for LifeLock are variable and seem to be based on a different pricing structure than their base prices, leading to odd discrepancies.
It doesn’t help that LifeLock’s promotional prices are also time locked; after a year, the price goes up.
Individual Plan Pricing Comparison
For family plans, things look very good for LifeLock in terms of relative price, with their family plans having options for two adults, or two adults and up to 5 kids, with a cost reduction (50% over getting two accounts for two adults, and only costing as much as two accounts for 5 children to be added on, a potential 80% cost reduction) for “buying in bulk”.
Things get a bit wonky when you start looking into discounts though, as it seems as though you cannot get that 25% off price with the traditional family plans. Instead, everything else needs to be added piecemeal, and it makes it hard to figure out your final cost.
Overall, LifeLock loses on ease of use here if nothing else. It has a very obtuse pricing scheme, and it’s very difficult to figure out what the best avenue for paying them is and how you can get the best deal available.
Identity Guard’s Family Plan is also quite good, though it comes with a few more restrictions over LifeLock’s options. The family plan costs an extra 33% more than their individual plan (raising the price of the Ultra plan from $20.00 per month to $26.67 per month), and covers two adults and a seemingly unlimited number of children, with one big caveat: it only covers family members living under the same roof.
This means that buying a family plan to cover yourself and spouse, plus your kids is an absolutely excellent deal, proportionally cheaper than LifeLock Advantage for 2 adults and 5 children. Buying a Family Plan to cover something like yourself and one of your adult children going off to college…well that becomes a whole lot more expensive, since you need to buy two full accounts now.
The main difference comes in that middle tier; LifeLock Advantage versus the Identity Guard Total plan.
Norton’s Advantage plan offers almost everything that LifeLock has to offer, with a couple of niche exceptions. Meanwhile, Identity Guard truly shines when you buy into the Ultra plan. This means you could sneak in a bit of extra cost saving on LifeLock by “tiering down” to Advantage, as there’s little point in ever paying for Ultimate Plus. That leaves LifeLock as a decent budget option to Identity Guard’s Ultra plan, but with all possible discounts applied the price difference is pretty small, and at each individual tier Identity Guard wins out.
It is also worth noting here that Identity Guard does provide significantly better insurance even at the lower tiers, with even the Value plan providing up to $1 million in coverage; LifeLock only offers that much with its Ultimate Plus plan. While I think it would be rare for the average person to make use of the full $1 million in coverage, and that $100,000 is going to be sufficient for the average user’s needs, $1 million in coverage is still more, and comes for free with every Identity Guard plan.
Winner: Identity Guard wins
This was a surprisingly close category.
On the one hand, LifeLock offers a nice cost effective option in its Advantage plan, which offers a lot of value. Additionally, the family plans between the two offer similar overall value, and LifeLock provides an easier avenue to make use of them for less standard family arrangements.
However, in terms of both ease of use and number of possible savings, Identity Guard wins handily.
It’s easier to find out what you’ll actually be paying, with great discounts available at every tier and for both individual and family plans. While LifeLock Advantage may still be cheaper than Identity Guard Ultra, the latter offers enough additional value and service quality that the price difference becomes somewhat moot, as it’s not an exorbitant amount of extra charge, and actually cheaper than LifeLock’s comparable Ultimate Plus plan.
So Which is the Best?
Final winner: Identity Guard
As I mentioned at the top, Identity Guard is the best option here in terms of pure performance, especially if you are a homeowner. While renting is common these days, there are still more homeowners than renters in the US. For those who own a home, home title monitoring is a huge benefit, as reverse mortgage fraud and similar scams are surprisingly common and insidious. Likewise, it’s never too early to start worrying about your retirement and investment.
Especially for people who are close to retirement, or already are retired, and who own a home, Identity Guard’s Ultimate plan lives up to its name, offering far more thorough and accurate identity theft protection services than LifeLock.
For any user, really, the fact that the service is simply better at detecting threats and letting you act on them is something you can’t ignore, and should for the majority of users be the main metric you’re looking at when you decide which service to get.
The only real drawback to the service is that Identity Guard is, in certain ways, a lower value in terms of how many people get covered since its family plans are extremely lacking, but that is more than made up for by the increase in performance.
However, that’s not to say LifeLock is a bad service.
In particular, LifeLock can save you a ton of money in a few circumstances. It’s an extraordinarily good budget model, and if you end up not needing a few key features (like the home title and 401(k) monitoring) it works out to a great deal. If you primarily rent and are nowhere near retirement, these services may not be a priority for you. In that case, going with LifeLock’s Advantage plan instead of Ultimate Plus saves you a good bit of money for essentially no downside.
LifeLock also offers more flexible family plan services, allowing you to cover two adults who may not necessarily live in the same household, allowing for things like covering two adults in a mutual separation period (where they both have a vested interest in keeping their information safe since many things on their credit may still be connected), protecting an adult child as they head off to college, and so on.
On top of that, you get a decent antivirus service.
In the end, if you’re something like a newlywed couple who hasn’t bought their first home yet, or you’re a perennial renter because you move a lot for work (eg. you’re a military family), LifeLock does offer quite a lot of value for their lower cost.
However at the end of the day, while both services are quite good and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either, Identity Guard takes the top spot based on its superior monitoring service alone, and the fact that it is competent or has the edge in every single other category.