Will LifeLock help repair your credit if your identity is stolen?

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The short answer to the question is no. The chance of LifeLock helping you repair your credit after an identity theft is next to none. But of course, the company doesn't want you to think that, or you'd probably never pay for their "service."

One of the reasons LifeLock fans have given for their support of the company and its services is that they'll help you repair your credit. That's simply not the case, unless your identity theft meets one tiny little exception. LifeLock will only help you if you can prove that your identity theft was caused by a "defect" in their service.

Now that's not immediately clear in the marketing materials used by LifeLock. In fact, they say prominently on their website: "If your Identity is stolen while you are a member of LifeLock, we're going to do whatever it takes to recover your good name." The page then goes on to say that there's not much fine print to this guarantee, but that you should read it.

That's the important sentence. And there isn't much fine print because the company doesn't need any. Their fine print can be boiled down to one simple concept: They won't help you unless you can prove there was a defect in their service. Good luck with that. As long as they told the credit reporting agency to put a worthless "fraud alert" on your credit report as they say they will, it seems they're in the clear. Identity thefts are caused by stolen credit card numbers, theft of mail containing personal information, misuse of your information by people in a position to access it. None of those have anything to do with LifeLock, so they're not covered.

I suspect that most people who pay over $100 a year for the LifeLock service really believe that the company will help them recover from identity theft. But the company puts it in black and white: They most certainly won't help you unless you can prove their service was somehow defective.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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