Updated: Sept. 28, 2017

Thanks to a massive data breach which lost the sensitive personal information of 143 million consumers — and probably anyone with a credit history — more people than ever are looking into credit report monitoring and identity theft protection services. Equifax, the credit bureau which was breached, is offering free monitoring from its own TrustedID Premier service, but it is a difficult pill to swallow coming from the company which lost everyone’s data in the first place. The other two credit bureaus, Experian and TransUnion, also offer their own monitoring services, but like TrustedID Premier, they are primarily focused on providing monitoring and information based around their own bureau. People looking for a more comprehensive credit and identity monitoring and protection service might find themselves instead drawn to a non-credit bureau company like LifeLock, but is LifeLock the right choice to protect you when a breach like this occurs? We dig into the details to find out.

What can credit and identity monitoring do to help after a data breach?

The unfortunate truth about identity theft is that there is usually little anyone can do to prevent it from happening. Equifax is far from the first company to lose tons of sensitive customer data to hackers, and it will certainly not be the last. Because so much information is out there on places like the dark web, the average person is probably more susceptible to identity theft than they realize. A service which monitors your credit reports as well as various other data, such as public records, utility account applications and known Internet black market websites, serves as an alarm system to let you know when suspicious activity has been detected. The crime has usually already occurred — for example, if you are alerted to a cell phone service account opened using your social security number and name in another state, that means whoever was responsible already possesses the information they need to commit crimes in your name.

While it is certainly helpful to be alerted to suspicious activity sooner rather than later, the true value of these services is the restoration assistance they provide. Reporting identity theft and recovering from it is a difficult process, and many people feel lost and helpless when facing the enormous task in front of them. It can be difficult to know every step you need to take, and you might hit a wall somewhere and not be sure how to overcome it to get your good name restored. Many identity theft protection services offer dedicated assistance in the form of a representative assigned to your specific case as well as insurance or service guarantees that can help you recover some of the money lost.

Is LifeLock the right choice for data breach victims?

LifeLock provides a host of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services and features to its subscribers. It offers several subscription plan types, though we consider LifeLock Ultimate Plus to be the most thorough and beneficial for people who are concerned about identity theft because it offers three-bureau credit report monitoring (as opposed to single-bureau, as the lower-tiered Advantage plan does). The cost for this plan is $26.99/month if you choose to pay monthly or $24.74/month when you pay for one year upfront ($296.90/year), and those prices factor in an exclusive 10% discount offered to NextAdvisor readers — you must sign up through our site to get this discount. Additionally, all plans include a 30-day risk-free trial, so you can try it out for a few weeks and still get your money back if you aren’t satisfied. Parents of children under the age of 18 can add their kids to their account with its LifeLock Junior service, which costs $5.39/month or $59.39/year per child (with the 10% discount).

Among the features LifeLock Ultimate Plus members are offered that Equifax data breach victims can take advantage of are monitoring for unauthorized postal address changes, applications for payday loans and utilities accounts, changes on all three of your credit reports, crimes committed, new credit accounts and aliases connected to your name, scanning for your information on the dark web (including file-sharing websites) and alerts for suspicious activity related to your credit cards, bank accounts and investment accounts. You can track your VantageScore credit score (which is based on Equifax data) on a monthly basis and view copies of all three credit reports and scores annually. In the event you do become a victim of identity theft, you’ll have access to a U.S.-based restoration team, as well as a Million Dollar Protection Package which provides compensation for personal expenses related to identity theft (e.g., fees to replace personal documents), lawyers and other experts necessary to resolve your case and up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement. Note that if you sign up for LifeLock and you have already been victimized, some limitations might apply, such as an inability to be reimbursed for stolen funds related to fraud committed in your name before you became a member.

How does LifeLock compare to the free service Equifax is offering?

TrustedID Premier, which is what Equifax is providing for free to all U.S. citizens who sign up by Jan. 31, 2018, is incredibly basic. It provides monitoring of your three credit reports, but only lets you view a copy of your Equifax credit report. You can also lock and unlock your Equifax credit file — essentially the same thing as placing a credit freeze. Additionally, it scans the web for evidence of your social security number, but not any of the other sources for potential evidence of identity theft mentioned above, like public records and utility account applications. There is a $1 million identity theft insurance policy, but it is somewhat limited in its scope compared to LifeLock. Additionally, although it is free, the complimentary protection from TrustedID Premier is only good for one year — it’s uncertain what will happen when that year is up, but it’s worth noting that a data breach as significant as this one is going to pose a risk to those exposed for years to come.

The good thing about LifeLock is that it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can sign up and give it a try with the peace of mind that you can cancel within the first 30 days and get your money back. There’s no reason why someone couldn’t take advantage of both TrustedID Premier and the arguably superior protection and support offered by a paid service like LifeLock.

Click here to sign up and get our exclusive 10% discount, or visit our LifeLock Ultimate Plus review to learn more. If you are interested in seeing how LifeLock stacks up against other identity theft protection services, check out our reviews of the best identity theft protection services. For more on the Equifax breach and other identity theft-related topics, be sure to follow our identity theft blog.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the companies referenced in this article. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the companies mentioned. NextAdvisor.com may be compensated through advertiser affiliate programs.