LifeLock has long been one of the top dogs on the market when it comes to identity theft protection, which means Aura has a lot to prove in comparison, despite its impressive pedigree as the successor of Identity Guard.
So, let’s dig deep into these two services, and see which one comes out on top by the end.
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Why Should You Trust Us?
Our process has been specially honed to produce consistent, realistic results from each service we test. Our experts approach everything the same way a normal person would. We search for the best deals we can find for each, and go through all the standard signup options with our test information.
Then…we wait. We use each service for about a month to really get a proper handle on how every feature works, and the performance of the service in each of our six primary categories. In order of importance, these are:
- Monitoring and alerts
- Threat resolution
- Ease of use
- Additional services
Every service is graded in all six of these categories to produce their final score. However, not all categories are created equal. All of these options are weighted depending on how important we feel each option is.
As an example, monitoring and alerts are arguably the most important thing when it comes to identity theft protection. That is primarily what you use these services for, and everything else is secondary to that. Yes, even to how they deal with the problem. In an absolute worst case scenario you can figure out how to solve an identity breach event on your own, but you’d never be able to do that if you weren’t alerted in the first place.
For that reason, nearly half of the score comes from the monitoring category alone, with the least impact on a service coming from the “additional services” category, which acts largely as a tiebreaker between options which would otherwise be the same.
We’ve found that this gives the most useful results as it allows you to make an informed decision about the quality of the service based on its primary performance, rather than the score being artificially low based on relatively unimportant factors.
Is Buying Identity Theft Protection Even Worth It?
The world has been evolving to be more online for a long time now. While the internet initially began as the realm of extreme hobbyists, it’s progressed a long way from there.
We’ve seen the evolution of the web as it has turned from that niche novelty, to a less niche entertainment tool, to something most people were at least passingly familiar with, and now to an indispensable core of our society.
Almost everyone uses the Internet for any number of tasks. Television, gaming, news, paying bills, shopping…the list goes on.
And, especially with recent events, working from home via the internet has become more common than ever.
And of course, with the way the internet has permeated our society comes the inevitable: crime.
Anything with legitimate business opportunities also comes inextricably linked to illegitimate ones as well. Fraud and identity theft have been around almost as long as the internet itself, but at the time it was much like it: niche and relatively easy to avoid, if you were wary enough.
But, like the internet, identity theft has evolved and is fast becoming the most common type of crime there is. It’s no exaggeration to say that depending on where you live, investing in identity theft protection is more likely to save you from being a victim than a home security system, or theft insurance.
Identity crime grows exponentially each year and will continue to do so as long as the internet itself keeps growing in importance.
So, you owe it to yourself to have at least some kind of recourse if the worst happens. Even basic protection is infinitely better than nothing, and there are some surprisingly cheap options out there that can cover you against a wide variety of the most common crimes.
Quick Score Guide:
|Criteria||Aura (9.5/10)||LifeLock (9/10)|
|Ease of Use||6/10||9/10|
|Monitoring and Alerts||10/10||7/10|
Ease of Use: Winner – LifeLock
When it comes to being easy to navigate and get a quick grasp of everything the service offers, Identity Guard (Aura’s predecessor) was the best on the market, matched only by LifeLock.
Aura (the “new Identity Guard”) does not inherit that particular aspect, sadly. From a website layout I could genuinely call great, Aura’s is now merely…okay.
Likewise, most of the shortcuts to feature options are fairly unimportant. Even if the features were critical, they are generally things you activate once and then never need to look at again, since they’ll be downloaded onto your computer. Of the seven options here, only two, maybe three really should be here; the rest should be moved to a separate tab to make way for more important features.
LifeLock, by contrast, does this well.
The page is clean, with alerts being front and center. The tabs are clearly labeled and easy to navigate, without needing to pull open a dropdown box like Aura does. All of the features on the front page are ones you would want quick access to, and give a good representation of what the service is most useful for.
Note that even though one of LifeLock’s big selling points is the antivirus and VPN service that’s bundled with the plan…it’s nowhere to be seen here, unlike with Aura. That’s because it doesn’t need to be, as it’s something you can find in your list of features, download once, and never look at again.
It’s like night and day here.
Monitoring and Alerts: Winner – Aura
For the most part, Aura vs LifeLock are fairly similar, actually. Both offer an insane amount of monitoring tools with their highest tier of service, ranging from the most common to the most niche (though still important) options, including:
- Dark web and data breach monitoring
- Payday loan monitoring
- Social security number monitoring
- Bank account monitoring
- Sex offender and criminal registry monitoring
- USPS address change monitoring
- Social media insights
- 401(k) and investment monitoring
- Home title monitoring
No options on the market offer more variety than this, so in terms of breadth both services are unbeatable.
Both are also very accurate, giving a satisfying amount of detail to each alert. It’s not as detailed as some options I’ve looked at, but the much broader selection of monitoring more than makes up for it.
So what’s the difference here? Speed.
Aura populates its initial list of alerts in under an hour, and provides alerts about new activity at roughly the same speed. It’s slower than other Aura alternatives I’ve looked at, which can throw up a full list of alerts in just a few minutes, or even seconds, but an hour of delay is largely meaningless; anything under 12 hours is about the same in your ability to act on it in my book.
LifeLock is considerably less impressive though, and blows past that roughly 12 hour metric easily. The fastest I’ve ever seen LifeLock give you an alert for some activity is about 48 hours, with an average closer to 3 days, and some taking a week or more to show up. That is simply unacceptable, and a big black mark against an otherwise excellent suite of monitoring tools.
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Threat Resolution Services: Tie
There’s not a ton to say here, given that these services are roughly identical in how they handle threat resolution.
They have two primary methods, one minor and one major. The minor one is the dedicated wallet restoration hotlines. These are there so if you lose your wallet you can start quickly and easily canceling and re-ordering all of your credit cards, your driver’s license, and so on so nobody can use them and you gain access to them again as quickly as possible.
The more important one though is very simple: 24/7 customer support.
Both have competent and friendly customer service representatives, and they all seem very knowledgeable and eager to help. I’d give a slight edge to Aura here in terms of experience, as the company tends to keep their employees on a bit longer (an average of 7 years or so according to their representative), but I haven’t noticed any sort of drastic difference between their ability to help me, at least not enough to justify marking down LifeLock in comparison to its competitors.
Aside from that, both offer one major security blanket to take the sting off any losses as well.
Insurance: Winner: Aura
While LifeLock’s insurance is pretty good in some respects, it’s actually weirdly below what I’d consider the market average.
Most services I’ve looked at offer a standard insurance suite. $1 million in insurance. Sometimes this is split into two separate pools: one for stolen funds, and one for expenses (giving you effectively $2 million in coverage but for different types of financial harm). This is how Aura does it.
Some offer only $1 million in expenses and lost funds combined.
LifeLock very oddly splits the difference here, with their lower tier plans offering very small amounts of money in terms of lost funds reimbursement, and $1 million for expenses (which they’ve recently made much more clear on their website).
This isn’t terrible, but as mentioned it’s not what I’d expect; even much smaller services have offered the full $1 million in two pools coverage.
That’s already enough to put Aura ahead of LifeLock, since it meets that standard even at its lowest membership plan, but Aura goes a step further than anything on the market I’ve seen. Members who go with their Ultra plan gain “Executive member status” when it comes to insurance. Instead of the $1 million in insurance that every member gets, you can gain up to $5 million in insurance for themselves and anyone on their family plan; so if you and your spouse both lose $5 million in assets, it would indeed cover the full $10 million.
It’d be hard for LifeLock to compete with that even if it did have the industry standard plan for its lower tier options, but as it stands Aura is just miles better in this regard.
Additional Services: Winner – LifeLock
Both services offer primarily the same additional services: an antivirus plan, and a VPN plan.
The difference is mainly that LifeLock’s version of both is simply…better.
While Aura’s antivirus plan is fine, it’s nothing to write home about. The VPN service is actively kind of bad, and was wisely named “WiFi security” in most places because it really doesn’t perform all the same functions you’d expect a VPN to. It basically just masks your IP address and location.
LifeLock is significantly better in every way here. Their antivirus is one of the best ones on the market, which makes sense given that this is Norton’s primary focus as a company. The VPN is honestly nothing special, and compares very poorly to other paid VPN services, but is more than good enough for something that you get as part of the normal monthly payment for LifeLock’s service.
Aura gets some points for trying, compared to its predecessor, but it could do with enhancing these options and making them more worth using over free options that perform better.
Cost: Winner – Aura
No contest here. Aura is one of the most affordable options on the market, while LifeLock is by contrast one of, if not the most costly service of this kind. Keep in mind the costs below are based on using the affiliate discounts we’ve been provided for each service, so the prices will be higher for both on their own website.
A quick comparison:
LifeLock also offers child protection alone for an additional $5.39 per month as well, so you don’t necessarily need to buy a family plan as a single parent to cover your child.
Overall, the price difference here is staggering. The month to month individual plan prices aren’t terribly different, but once you start getting into family plans you can really start to feel the difference.
Aura covers up to 10 individuals per family plan. That can be adults and children in any combination, up to 10 people, with the only restriction being that all children need to be under the guardianship of the account holder.
So you can get potentially 10 adult accounts for a grand total of…$6 per month up charge. That’s a whole lot cheaper than what LifeLock offers, and the service as a whole is better to boot.
This, really, is where Aura shines. It doesn’t just have top-notch performance, but it’s surprisingly affordable as well.
Conclusion: Winner – Aura
This is an extremely easy race to call: Aura vs LifeLock, which is especially impressive given that LifeLock is not bad; far from it. LifeLock is legitimately one of the best services on the market, with great performance, solid extras added on to make the whole package more appealing, and an okay price point for what it offers.
Aura though, is just next level. Astounding performance in every category, docked only in its kind of annoyingly laid-out dashboard, combined with an exceptionally low price point for what it offers.
There are smaller services with budget plans out there that I really like…that offer less for the same price as Aura. So it’s no surprise that even when there’s a service that can sort of match Aura in most categories, it just gets overshadowed by the fact that Aura is just cheaper.
Even if LifeLock was a little bit better in every category than Aura, I’d still probably recommend the latter due to the price difference. As it stands, despite how objectively good LifeLock is, there’s almost zero reason to recommend it over Aura. The only thing I can think of is if you factor in buying the antivirus and VPN separately it might be a solid pick, since they are significantly better than Aura’s options.
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