x
Breaking News
More () »

VERIFY: Prevent identity theft. How to know if a protection service is legitimate

A viewer asked about the legitimacy of LifeLock. The BBB said it’s real but cautioned users to read the fine print about identity protection services.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gone are the days when you used your social security number as your student ID. 

In this technologically-advancing world, protecting your identity is so important -- because it is so easy to lose. That's why identity protection services are particularly appealing. They pledge to monitor your accounts for you and try to recover stolen funds.

VERIFY QUESTION

Joe wrote our VERIFY team, asking, "I was wondering if you could VERIFY if this company -- LifeLock -- is legitimate or not."

VERIFY SOURCES

VERIFY PROCESS

Let's start with LifeLock's website. You can see, right away, the web address has the lock icon -- or HTTPS -- meaning it is secure. The pages are professional, thorough and don't have blatant red flags, like misspellings. It clearly states its mission -- to alert, defend, resolve and reimburse identity theft. And, it has four and a half out of five stars for member reviews. All of these traits look on the "up and up" so far.

RELATED: How to spot a fake site

However, if you look up the company on the Better Business Bureau, you'll see some mixed messages. The company headquarters is BBB-accredited and has the top score. But, it has hundreds of complaints and averages between one and two out of five stars. BBB agent Yates explained how to interpret this information.

"LifeLock has been in business for 19 years. It is a BBB-accredited business and has earned an A+. It does have almost 900 complaints, but for a business that size, that's not entirely unreasonable, and it has answered all of its complaints. So, considering all of these factors leads me to say LifeLock is a legitimate business," she said.

Yates explained the BBB algorithm considers the company's length of time in business, number of employees and revenue. BBB-accredited businesses must answer all of their complaints, and she noted people who write into the BBB are more likely to share a complaint than a compliment. 

A majority of LifeLock critics on the BBB's website said they have problems with the service. Yates suspected that is because there are misconceptions about what identity protection services do.

"These kinds of services cannot protect you from having your identity stolen. Really, what identity theft protection services are good for are cleaning up the aftermath of having your identity stolen," she explained.

And that, Yates said, is appealing.

"It takes a lot of time and effort, if you do end up becoming an identity theft victim. You've got accounts you have to close, police reports you have to file. It can be costly, as well, so that's when these types of services really step in and can help you out," she said.

VERIFY CONCLUSION

Yes, LifeLock is a legitimate identity protection services business, and it's important to vet any company before giving it your information.

Understand what it does and doesn't do and read the fine print.

One more important note: make sure the company in question has a legitimate physical address and working phone number.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, screen shot or selfie video of the question to:

E-mail: VERIFY@wfmy.com

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

RELATED: VERIFY: You can put premium gas in a car that takes regular but not vice-versa

RELATED: VERIFY: Keeping phone plugged in too long, too often will degrade battery over time