As one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States, Experian has significant experience with identity theft and credit fraud. Experian surveyed 1,000 consumers during the 2020 holiday season and found 24% had experienced identity theft or fraud.
One of the ways to try to protect yourself from losing control of your personally identifying information is through an identity theft protection service, such as Experian IdentityWorks. When you pay for a subscription to IdentityWorks, the service watches for your personal information on the internet. It also monitors odd occurrences within your credit report; anything that could indicate your personal information is at risk.
Although such benefits are important, is Experian IdentityWorks actually worth the price? During my hands-on review of Experian IdentityWorks, I used the service over a period of time, looking for its strengths and weaknesses. In this Experian IdentityWorks review, I want to give you an idea of how the service works and whether it’s a good value.
My hands-on review of IdentityWorks seeks to answer questions readers commonly have, such as:
- Is Experian IdentityWorks worth the money?
- How does Experian operate ID theft protection?
- Is it safe to give my Social Security number to Experian IdentityWorks?
- How does Experian IdentityWorks provide alerts?
- Is Experian IdentityWorks better than LifeLock?
I found Experian IdentityWorks it gives you the basic features of identity protection that you would expect to receive. Should aspects of your personally identifying information appear in an odd setting on the internet that could increase your risk of identity theft, IdentityWorks spots it and alerts you. Additionally, you receive up to $1 million of identity theft insurance if you must attempt to recover your identity after becoming a subscriber. IdentityWorks is missing a couple of key features versus competitors, and its interface is more complicated than it needs to be. Thanks to its backing from Experian, It focuses a little too much on credit scores, including constant offers for new credit cards and loans. However, its basic feature set matches up pretty closely to other ID theft protection services.
Summary of benefits: Experian IdentityWorks
|No value||Experian IdentityWorks|
|Website||experianidworks.com||Free trial||Identity theft insurance||Up to $1 million||Stolen funds reimbursement||Included in ID theft insurance||Credit monitoring||Social media monitoring||Lock your credit||Home title monitoring||Phone takeover monitoring||Dark web monitoring||Crime in your name monitoring||Credit reports||Credit score|
|Best deal (per month)|
$24.99/mo for the Premium Plan
Experian IdentityWorks review: Summary
When you subscribe to Experian IdentityWorks, the service provides alerts you any time it discovers that your personal information appears on the internet in a dangerous situation. When you see this type of alert, you can take steps to try to protect your information.
As an IdentityWorks subscriber, should you suffer identity theft, you receive access to an insurance policy that reimburses you for expenses related to your efforts to restore your identity. This policy is worth up to $1 million in reimbursement. It covers direct expenses, such as hiring an attorney or a CPA to help you. Should you miss work while trying to recover your identity, you also can receive reimbursement.
If the person who steals your identity is able to transfer money from your account and steal these funds, you can receive reimbursement for this money as part of the $1 million insurance policy.
These are basic features that all identity theft protection services should provide. IdentityWorks sets itself apart by tapping into Experian’s expertise related to helping consumers manage their credit.
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States. Consequently, IdentityWorks really focuses on helping you protect your credit information. If you have a greater interest in basic identity theft protection services and less interest in understanding your credit score and related items, IdentityWorks may not appeal to you as much as another service.
I like how IdentityWorks makes the process of freezing your credit report extremely easy. This is one of the best ways to ensure that no one opens lines of credit in your name without your knowledge.
However, IdentityWorks is missing a few features that you may need. For example, IdentityWorks monitors your bank accounts for odd transactions, but it does not monitor your investment accounts in the same manner.
It does not offer 24/7 customer service, either, even if you believe you suddenly became a victim of identity theft or if you lost your wallet. If you have a highly complex financial life, IdentityWorks will not serve you as well as other identity theft protection services.
Although the design of the service’s dashboard has some features that look nice and that are easy to access, the design makes some features too difficult to find.
The help center is a significant disappointment. It doesn’t even offer a search function. IdentityWorks does offer a chat-bot feature to try to give you some guidance, but a few times when I tried to access the chat, it told me an internal error caused the chat-bot to close the session, so it wasn’t functional.
Before moving into the details regarding my Experian IdentityWorks full review, you should understand a few things about how ID theft protection services work.
Even if you pay $20 per month or more for a subscription to an ID theft protection service like IdentityWorks, you could still end up as a victim of identity theft. These services simply attempt to help you spot oddities regarding the appearance of your personal information on the internet.
After IdentityWorks notifies you about an odd situation regarding your information, you have to take the time to attempt to fix the situation. This could include changing a password or locking your credit temporarily until you can make the necessary changes.
Because these services simply monitor your personally identifying information, rather than stopping instances of identity theft, some people choose to duplicate the features these services provide by closely watching their credit reports. This would save the subscription price.
By subscribing to a service like IdentityWorks, however, you are paying the service to take these steps on your behalf. If you have concerns that you cannot watch your information often enough or closely enough, having an ID theft protection service helping you can be a preferable option.
With IdentityWorks, the subscription price is extremely easy to understand. You only can choose to pay month to month, so there discount for paying annually. It does not offer add-on features for an extra price. There also is no first-year discount with a significant price jump in year two, as LifeLock offers. All these things make it easier to understand the cost of IdentityWorks, even if you don’t have the option for discounts.
Before discussing the Experian IdentityWorks features in much more detail, I must mention that I paid for a real subscription to IdentityWorks to perform my hands-on review. I did not receive a demonstration account or a complimentary account from Experian.
I believe it is important for me to try to use the ID theft protection service in the same manner that you would as a subscriber. This gives me the opportunity to experience the same pluses and minuses of the ID theft protection service that you would experience. I subscribed to the $24.99 Premium tier (for individuals) with the 30-day free trial.
Experian IdentityWorks features and insurance
I’ll start by breaking down the most important features and services of Experian IdentityWorks and letting you know how they rank.
Insurance and compensation
IdentityWorks matches the industry standard by offering an insurance reimbursement policy that carries up to $1 million in coverage if you as a subscriber suffer identity theft. This policy focuses on expenses you may have related to trying to recover your identity.
You need to show proof of your expenses, and you must have documentation that shows how these expenses directly relate to trying to recover your identity. IdentityWorks is not going to hand you a check for these expenses without proof. Some of the expenses you may have include:
- Hiring a lawyer
- Hiring an accountant
- Hiring a private investigator
- Missing work
- Paying for child care
If you have direct losses from your bank accounts related to the identity theft, you potentially can recover these funds as part of this insurance policy. Understand that the majority of identity theft victims will have nowhere near $1 million in reimbursable expenses and account losses, but IdentityWorks still offers up to $1 million.
If IdentityWorks discovers something about your personal information that seems out of place on the internet, it generates an alert for you. The alert describes the odd situation and gives you basic advice on how to proceed.
You are able to see any alerts IdentityWorks generates in both your dashboard and on the mobile app. In the dashboard in the web browser, just click on the bell icon at the top of the page to see your list of alerts. You then can delete alerts after you deal with them, so they no longer appear.
I had a few alerts as soon as I signed up for IdentityWorks, all of which I already knew about, but that show the accuracy of the service.
One disappointment with the alert screen in Experian IdentityWorks is that the service displays advertisements for credit card offers in the middle of the list of alerts. This is just one example of IdentityWorks creating more advertisements and focusing more on helping you obtain credit than I’d like to see from a service that should be focusing on helping you protect your identity.
Dark web monitoring
You can see any warnings about the information IdentityWorks finds on the dark web through the Protection section of the dashboard. Should it find any aspects of your information appearing on the dark web in an unsafe manner, IdentityWorks provides some advice on steps you can take.
Alongside results about your personal information appearing on the dark web, IdentityWorks provides an explanation of how it handles dark web scanning. The dark web includes non-traditional websites, message boards, and other areas of the internet that draw hackers and criminals. They may trade, buy, and sell personal information of identity theft victims in these locations.
If an attacker can use the dark web to obtain enough of your personal information, they could steal your identity.
One aspect of dark web monitoring where Experian IdentityWorks excels is that it asks you to add additional email addresses and phone numbers that you may use now or that you used in the recent past. IdentityWorks then searches the dark web for mentions of these items too, giving you additional monitoring options.
You also can add your passport number, health insurance information, and other non-traditional items, allowing IdentityWorks to keep an eye on this information.
Free credit report and monitoring
As part of your IdentityWorks subscription, you can receive a representation of your credit score, and you can receive your credit report quarterly from all three credit bureaus. As you may expect, your Experian credit report is part of your subscription immediately after you sign up for the service. You later can request your Equifax and TransUnion reports.
The page lists your current and historical personal information, including your addresses and employment status. You can see all your loans and credit accounts listed as well. You will receive an estimation of your credit score from all three bureaus.
To see your credit reports, click the Credit link along the top of the dashboard. Experian IdentityWorks emphasizes this aspect of the service, offering numerous features related to credit.
IdentityWorks has a nice feature that allows you to click a button in the Credit section to dispute information in your credit report if you find an error. If you suffer identity theft, alerting the credit bureaus to this problem needs to happen quickly, and IdentityWorks makes this an easier process than some other ID theft protection services.
Credit score tracking
I mentioned earlier that Experian really emphasizes credit reports and credit scores in its IdentityWorks service. This emphasis includes Experian offering advice on improving your credit score.
In the Credit section of the dashboard, you can select:
- FICO Score Planner: The planner provides targeted and specific advice on ways you can improve your credit score over the next 3 to 12 months. You also can use this tool to select a desired credit score, and Experian shows you ways to reach it.
- FICO Score Simulator: The simulator helps you determine how certain actions you take over the next few months can affect your credit score. This is a great way to help you determine which bills you should pay down first to boost your credit score.
- Score Tracker: The tracker divides your credit score into various sections, showing you which areas are strongest for you and are helping your credit score and which areas may be dragging your credit score down a bit.
As part of all these features, you will regularly see advertisements for new lines of credit and for new credit cards.
Freeze your credit report
Experian IdentityWorks gives you the ability to lock your credit file at Experian during the signup process. I appreciate IdentityWorks emphasizing this option, as it is one of the easiest ways to prevent others from opening lines of credit in your name.
You also can lock your Experian credit report by clicking a button on the Experian credit report page or by clicking a button on the Protection section of the dashboard. There is no button for locking your credit report at TransUnion and Equifax inside the IdentityWorks service, so you must contact those credit bureaus separately.
Although freezing your credit is a smart way to protect yourself from someone opening loans in your name, remember that you also cannot open loans while your credit report remains locked. Be sure to go back into the IdentityWorks dashboard and unlock your credit before applying for a new loan or credit card.
Alternative lending monitoring
On the Protection section of the dashboard, you can look for any alerts regarding activity in your name for alternative lending sources. This would include things like rent-to-own accounts, payday loans, and installment loans.
With IdentityWorks, you receive an alert if the service detects a change of address submitted to the U.S. Postal Service in your name. Someone may try to use a change of address form to steal your physical mail, gaining access to key information about your identity.
Court records monitoring
IdentityWorks runs a search on municipal court records to see if your name appears related to any crimes. If so, it may mean that someone has stolen your identity and given it to law enforcement to place any criminal charges on your record, rather than on the criminal’s record.
IdentityWorks provides advice on how you should proceed if you find criminal proceedings incorrectly associated with your name.
Sex offender registry monitoring
Based on the address you entered into IdentityWorks, the service searches your local sex offender registry lists to see if anyone on this list lives near you. It also alerts you if your name appears on any sex offender list, so you can dispute it.
IdentityWorks does not list its parameters for searching your neighborhood regarding the sex offender list. I don’t know if IdentityWorks is searching within 100 yards, 1 mile, or 3 miles from my address. Some other ID theft protection services that offer sex offender registry searches allow you to determine the distance over which the search should take place, and it would be nice if IdentityWorks also offered this capability.
Social media monitoring
IdentityWorks offers social media network monitoring, which watches for dangerous activity on your social media accounts. However, it is not easy to find this feature.
On the Protection section of the dashboard, click the Monitored Items button. Scroll down until you see the social media section. You then can tell IdentityWorks which networks it should track for you. Once you activate a social media network by moving the slider button, you must provide your login information for your social media account to give Experian IdentityWorks access to it. You can track:
To see any alerts related to social media, click the bell icon at the top right corner of the dashboard. On the Alert Types drop-down menu, click on Social. You then will see any alerts.
If you think you may be facing an identity theft situation as an Experian IdentityWorks subscriber, you can call IdentityWorks to receive help from a case specialist.
Unfortunately, IdentityWorks does not make finding the contact information as easy as it should. From the Protection section of the dashboard, scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on the More About Your Coverage link. Along the right side of the screen, you’ll see a window that tells you how to contact IdentityWorks.
IdentityWorks does not offer 24-hour customer support, and this lack of round-the-clock support also applies to seeking help with potential identity theft. This is an extremely disappointing aspect of Experian IdentityWorks. If you have questions about a potential theft of your identity, you want to be able to talk to someone day or night.
I could not test the performance of IdentityWorks’ ID restoration team, as I did not suffer identity theft while I was performing my tests on it. (Truthfully, I was happy to not be able to test this aspect of the service.)
You do not have an option for using two-factor authentication (2FA) with your Experian IdentityWorks account. This is a disappointment, as 2FA is the best way to protect your account from a hacker who is trying to steal your user name and password.
Lost wallet protection
IdentityWorks offers help to subscribers who lose their wallets. The Experian IdentityWorks team keeps an eye on your credit report for any items that indicate a problem with a lost credit card or other card.
Additionally, IdentityWorks promises to help you contact the correct agencies to cancel your stolen credit cards or driver’s license and to obtain new copies. As mentioned earlier, it is unfortunate that the customer service team does not offer 24-hour support for items like a lost wallet, though.
One aspect of IdentityWorks that differs from other ID theft protection services is its help with removing your name and information from people finder sites. These sites function as data brokers who buy and sell your personal information. This sets you up for spam phone calls and texts, as well as junk mail and junk email. If enough of your information appears on these sites, you could be more susceptible to ID theft.
On the Protection section of the dashboard, click the Privacy link in the middle of the page. Give IdentityWorks permission to search the data broker sites for your information. If it finds your data at these sites, it makes a request to those sites to remove your data. This is not a feature I found with other ID theft protection services that I’ve tested.
During my test, IdentityWorks found my information on dozens of these sites, so it was nice to have help with removing it.
Signup and setup
To sign up with Experian IdentityWorks, you only need to add your name, address, phone number, birthdate, and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
After signing up, you can add more information about your financial life, giving IdentityWorks the ability to track you more efficiently. Click the Protection link at the top of the dashboard to add your other information. You can add additional email addresses and phone numbers as part of this process. If you don’t want to add a certain piece of information, you can skip it.
You do not need to download software or other items when making use of Experian IdentityWorks. It runs entirely within your browser.
Even though IdentityWorks offers a 30-day free trial of the service, you must provide a credit card or other payment method at the time of signup. You also must agree to automatic billing and renewal. If you do not cancel the service within the 30-day period, you will receive a charge.
One oddity with IdentityWorks occurs when you try to sign up for the service. You may end up at a web page that requires you to enter an activation code. If you don’t have this code, you cannot sign up on these web pages.
Even odder, at the time of this writing, the Experian IdentityWorks home page did not have a link that allowed me to sign up for the service. It took multiple Google searches for me to find a web page where I could sign up for the service without the activation code.
Some IdentityWorks pages contain an “Enroll Now” link. However, that link just took me back to the home page where I could not sign up for the service.
I tried multiple browsers, and it did not alleviate the problem. I finally was able to sign up through the Experian website, rather than through the IdentityWorks website.
I’m not sure if it was just a web page glitch on the days when I was testing the service, or if Experian IdentityWorks always makes the signup process this challenging. However, through my years of testing ID theft protection services and working with them, this was truly one of the strangest situations I’ve seen when trying to subscribe to an ID protection service.
Ease of use and design
At first glance, Experian IdentityWorks’ dashboard and design looks easy to navigate. It is a design with plenty of clickable buttons, so you can access various aspects of the service when you need them.
However, as I began digging into the various features of IdentityWorks, I experienced plenty of frustration. The organization of the dashboard is poor, as it was difficult to find some of the features. Things like lost wallet help or viewing any alerts related to your social media accounts should not require working through multiple menus.
IdentityWorks recently updated its interface, but I think the new interface is harder to use than the old interface. At the same time as the redesign, IdentityWorks reduced the number of pricing tiers and began requiring those using the 30-day free trial to submit a credit card at the time of signup.
As I moved deeper into my testing period with IdentityWorks, I was able to find the features I wanted a little more easily. However, it would be better if the IdentityWorks’ interface was simply easier to use and better designed from the start.
I also really disliked seeing advertisements sprinkled throughout the interface for obtaining a personal loan or for applying for a new credit card. Ads like this make it a little tougher to trust that IdentityWorks really has my best interests in mind, rather than its own interests of trying to make a commission off a new loan I choose to open.
Ultimately, the ads are a bad look for an identity theft protection service.
IdentityWorks logs you out of your account after 15-20 minutes of inactivity, which is a nice safety measure. Should you walk away from your web browser without logging out of the account, IdentityWorks logs you out so someone else cannot stumble onto your personal information.
However, Experian IdentityWorks negates some of that desirable level of security by not providing an option for 2FA login. You also can prepopulate the login screen with your user name and password. Although this is handy, it is a security risk. We would not recommend prepopulating the login screen on a computer that someone else may use.
The speed with which IdentityWorks ran inside my web browser was impressive. I experienced almost no lag as I clicked on various buttons. Some ID theft protection services have noticeable delays.
Experian IdentityWorks dashboard
For some of the most basic features of this identity theft protection service, the dashboard is well-organized. As you start diving into the more advanced features, though, the dashboard’s problems are readily apparent.
The dashboard has six sections, listed as clickable menus across the top of the screen. You also have a bell icon that leads to your list of alerts along the top, as well as your personal icon that leads to your account information. The six sections include:
- Credit Cards
As you might imagine when reading through that list, most of those sections have little to do with identity theft protection. Although IdentityWorks bills itself as an ID theft protection service, the influence of Experian wanting to help you manage your credit is significant. It offers many features aimed at helping you find new loans and manage your credit.
I dislike that IdentityWorks always opens the Credit section of the dashboard first. Because I signed up for IdentityWorks as an ID theft protection service, I want to see my identity protection information first. You must click the Protection link along the top to visit this section of the dashboard.
Should you want to add a new email address to track or a new credit card, click on the Monitored Items button near the top of the dashboard in the Protection section. Then select the type of information you want to add along the right side of the screen. Other buttons allow you to lock your credit or to see an explanation of the features available in your IdentityWorks subscription.
Experian IdentityWorks mobile app
IdentityWorks offers both iOS and Android mobile apps. These are popular apps with millions of downloads. However, as with the IdentityWorks dashboard, they focus heavily on helping you manage your credit and applying for loans.
The app doesn’t offer a ton of features aimed at helping you protect and monitor your identity. However, it does have a nice design and gives you the basics, including providing you with alerts in case something strange happens to some aspect of your personally identifying information on the internet.
Experian IdentityWorks support
As with the rest of the IdentityWorks ID theft protection service, customer support is a hit and miss proposition.
For starters, it is very disappointing that Experian IdentityWorks does not offer 24/7 customer service when someone loses a wallet or when someone believes they suffered identity theft.
It’s understandable to have limited phone support hours for general questions from subscribers, but there should be an option to access someone on the phone at 2 a.m. when you really need some reassurance about the status of your identity.
Customer service is available during normal workday hours and some evening hours during the week and during daytime hours on the weekends.
I mentioned earlier the occasional issues I had with making the chat function work. However, I was able to contact a live person in customer service over the phone within a few minutes when I called during the stated hours.
When you sign up for IdentityWorks, you have the option of opting out of marketing email messages from Experian. We would recommend doing this to cut back on the number of emails you receive after subscribing. However, you will still receive marketing emails from Experian after becoming an IdentityWorks subscriber.
Experian IdentityWorks: Pricing
|No value||Experian IdentityWorks|
|Website||experianidworks.com||Subscription periods||Monthly||Special offer||30-day free trial||Lowest annual price (Individual)||$299.88||Lowest annual price (Family)||$419.88||Money-back guarantee|
|Best deal (per month)|
$24.99/mo for the Premium Plan
If you want the most basic pricing plan from an ID theft protection service, Experian IdentityWorks delivers. It recently made changes to the pricing options available with its service, reducing the plans to one option for individuals and one option for families. The family tier allows you to add a second adult and up to 10 children on the account.
You only can pay month to month, as there is no annual payment option. This means IdentityWorks does not offer a discount if you want to pay on an annual contract. On the plus side, you aren’t on the hook for 9 or 10 months of payments if you decide after a couple of months that you no longer want the service.
Ultimately, its prices are about average versus other ID theft protection services.
Experian does offer a free tier, called the Basic tier, that offers free credit reports and a credit score from Experian. It also offers basic credit monitoring and alerts. This is a good tier for providing the absolute minimum in terms of watching your credit for odd circumstances, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of traditional ID theft protection tracking.
Auto renewal options
At the time of signup, you must agree to the automatic renewal process for Experian IdentityWorks. You must provide a credit card at signup for the 30-day free trial (something that IdentityWorks did not require in the past).
Each month that your account comes up for renewal, IdentityWorks automatically charges your payment method unless you cancel before the next billing date. In other words, don’t put off canceling the service if you no longer want to pay for it.
Every ID theft protection service requires you to agree to an auto renewal payment method, so IdentityWorks is no different from its competitors in this area.
How do I cancel Experian IdentityWorks?
Canceling Experian IdentityWorks can be a bit of a challenge. Experian hides the option for canceling online, although you can call customer service instead to try to cancel. Fortunately for you, I went through the process of canceling the service at the conclusion of my testing period, so I can help you complete this task quickly.
When canceling IdentityWorks online, click on your personal icon in the upper right corner of the dashboard. Then click on Your Account.
On the Your Account screen, click on Membership Details in the upper area of the screen. In the Membership Details area of the screen, scroll down and click on the Manage Membership Plan link.
On the Membership Management screen, you can see the current subscription you have. Scroll down toward the bottom of the page and click on the Downgrade Membership link.
In the popup screen, scroll down and click on the Downgrade to Free button. In other words, you cannot cancel your service completely. You will continue to have an Experian IdentityWorks account, but it will be the free Basic tier account I described earlier.
It is frustrating to have to go through so many steps to do something as simple as canceling your paid account with IdentityWorks.
If you call the Experian customer service team, you should be able to request the complete removal of your information from Experian IdentityWorks if you don’t want the Basic tier.
Take screenshots as you move through the cancellation process and save any emails you receive. If you have a dispute with IdentityWorks later, you can use these items as proof that you canceled.
When you are signing up for Experian IdentityWorks, I would recommend only using a credit card. Do not use a bank account or another type of payment method. Should you experience problems with trying to cancel the service, your credit card company is more likely to help you with unwarranted charges than your bank.
Pros and cons of Experian IdentityWorks
- Makes it easy to see your credit report and credit score
- Delivers credit reports and scores from all three credit bureaus
- Offers a 30-day free trial period
- Recently simplified its pricing structure and tiers
- Family tier includes support for 2 adults and up to 10 children
- Offers $1 million in identity theft insurance
- Simplifies freezing and unfreezing your Experian credit report
- Allows you to track multiple email addresses and phone numbers in the individual tier
- Delivers advice to help you try to improve your credit score
- Helps with removing your information from people finder sites
- Popular mobile app has a nice design
- Signup process goes fast
- No 24/7 customer service, even if you believe you are having an identity theft situation
- Organization of the dashboard is confusing
- Difficult to find some of the features you want
- No option for receiving a discount for paying annually
- Canceling the service online is a significant challenge
- Displays ads for obtaining credit cards or new personal loans on nearly every screen
- Focuses far more on your credit score and history than on identity theft protection
- Doesn’t monitor your investment accounts separately
- No option for making use of 2FA with your IdentityWorks account
- Self-help area is poorly organized and has no search function
Experian IdentityWorks: Our final verdict
I would call my hands on review of Experian IdentityWorks a mixed bag. There are a few features where IdentityWorks stands out and offers some improvements on the majority of identity theft service providers out there.
Unfortunately, IdentityWorks also has areas where it is trailing its competitors. When I consider the lack of organization in the IdentityWorks dashboard and the introduction of advertisements on nearly every screen for credit card applications, I can’t give IdentityWorks a positive recommendation for the average person.
If you are someone who primarily has an interest in tracking your credit reports and in finding ways to improve your credit score, while also receiving the basics in identity theft protection, Experian IdentityWorks may be a good fit for you.
Experian is one of the three primary credit bureaus, and it emphasizes credit monitoring strongly throughout IdentityWorks. This likely won’t appeal to someone who wants advanced ID theft protection service above all else.
One area where IdentityWorks has an advantage is in the simplicity of its pricing plan. Experian recently reduced its pricing tier options to make things as easy as possible for consumers. Quite frankly, the majority of ID theft protection services have far too many pricing tiers and options, leading to confusion for customers. IdentityWorks has removed this confusion from the equation.
However, IdentityWorks causes confusion and frustration through a poorly designed and organized dashboard. Although you can find a few basic features easily in the dashboard, you have to click through multiple screens to find features that should be far more obvious. Its design makes operating the service more complicated than it needs to be.
It’s also highly disappointing that IdentityWorks does not offer 24/7 customer support. You don’t want to have to wait several hours to speak to someone when you find something strange happening with your identity. Considering what you are paying for this service, 24/7 customer service should be a given.
Bottom line: Experian IdentityWorks performs the basics for you in terms of identity theft protection, but it does not make the process of managing your account easy, thanks to a poorly designed and organized dashboard. The fact that you see advertisements for credit cards on nearly every screen – mixed in with the identity theft protection information – does not inspire confidence in what Experian IdentityWorks is trying to accomplish for you. However, if you are someone who is interested in trying to improve your credit score while receiving basic ID theft protection services, Experian IdentityWorks meshes these two features together better than its competitors.
Our testing methodology for identity theft protection
When I am performing a review of one of the best identity theft protection services, I personally know the importance of testing these services. The best way for me to give readers a feel for how an ID theft protection service works is to sit down and use it over a period of time.
Although I could read the service’s website or use a demonstration account before making a recommendation for you, this simply would not lead to the most realistic and accurate assessment.
When I test ID theft protection services, I subscribe to the service myself. I enter my personal information – some of which I know will generate alerts – so I can test the accuracy and responsiveness of the service.
I also focus on how easy these services are to use and on the responsiveness of their customer service teams.
In the end, I want to make sure that the promises these ID theft protection services make in their marketing materials match up to the reality you experience when using the service. I want my testing process to match the way you plan to use the service as closely as possible.
Is Experian IdentityWorks worth the money?
Identity theft is more common than you think. For someone who only wants ID theft protection services, I believe there are better options on the market. If you want credit score advice to go with basic identity theft protection services, however, IdentityWorks does a good job of marrying these two options. Whether you believe this means IdentityWorks is worth the money is really a personal decision you must make, along with deciding whether it fits in your budget.
How does Experian operate ID theft protection?
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus, and its brand name is well-known in the area of personal finance. Because this company holds personal information for millions of people through its credit reports, it knows the importance of guarding against identity fraud and ID theft. Beyond IdentityWorks, Experian also offers a separate product called IDnotify to help subscribers guard against potential identity theft.
Is it safe to give my Social Security number to Experian IdentityWorks?
Experian IdentityWorks promises to closely guard your personal information. And Experian is one of the most well-known names in the world for personal credit, so it routinely guards important information. Consequently, you can trust Experian with your personal information. However, I do wish IdentityWorks had more of an emphasis on account safety for the end user by offering measures like 2FA.
How does Experian IdentityWorks provide alerts?
If IdentityWorks finds oddities related to your personally identifying information on the internet, it generates an alert in the dashboard and in the mobile app. You then can click on the alert to read more about the issue and how you can fix it.
Is Experian IdentityWorks better than LifeLock?
In my Experian IdentityWorks vs LifeLock comparison review, I gave LifeLock the advantage. Although LifeLock costs more over multiple years of a subscription, it has a far better design and organizational structure. I know that LifeLock is focusing on identity theft protection, while I wonder where IdentityWorks’ focus rests when I see advertisements for credit card applications mixed in with my ID theft protection alerts.
Should I get ID theft protection?
It would be impossible for me to tell you whether you should purchase an identity theft protection subscription. It really depends on your personal situation. If you have a complex financial life or if you are more susceptible to becoming a victim of identity theft, paying for a subscription may be a good idea. If you believe you can watch your personal information successfully on your own, you may not need to pay for this service.
People who may have a greater susceptibility to becoming an identity theft victim include those who were victims previously. Once your personally identifying information is on the dark web or in the hands of hackers, it leaves you more vulnerable in the future.
Children and senior citizens have less reason to check their credit reports on a regular basis because they are rarely or never taking out loans. This means they may not catch a discrepancy that indicates a potential identity theft early enough to try to prevent it.
ID theft protection services do not guarantee protection from becoming a victim of identity theft. Instead, they watch your personal information for any odd situations that could indicate someone is trying to use it to steal your identity. You can perform many of the same actions as the ID theft service by watching your credit report closely, by keeping an eye on your account statements, and by limiting where and how you share your personal information.
If you do not feel comfortable watching your information yourself or if you are extremely busy, you may prefer to pay the ID theft subscription service to do the work for you. The theft protection service can potentially catch problems faster than you can, which is another advantage.
However, it is worth noting that identity theft protection services are not perfect. They surely will generate quite a few false alerts for items that don’t really affect your risk of suffering identity theft. It can be time consuming and frustrating to spend your time investigating false alarms.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that paying an ID theft protection service does not guarantee that you will avoid identity theft. The protection service watches your information and gives you advice on how to make changes to avoid potential identity theft. It does not stop identity theft, though, and it does not fix things for you without your knowledge.
Those who end up as victims of identity theft typically face a long road to restore their identities. You may have to hire attorneys, accountants, and private investigators to help you re-establish your identity and to remove the information from your credit report that does not belong to you.
Should you suffer identity theft after becoming a subscriber, the service usually assigns a restoration specialist to your case. This person provides advice on how to start to restore your identity. The specialist may even take some steps for you, such as contacting the credit bureaus on your behalf.
However, much of the leg work rests on your shoulders. You may have to miss work to deal with some of these issues. Fortunately for ID theft protection service subscribers, the service should reimburse you for your expenses. It can take several weeks or months to restore your identity. Some people suffer through a few years of hassles related to the identity theft.
If you simply don’t want to pay for identity theft protection, one of the steps you should take to try to protect yourself is locking your credit report at the three credit bureaus. By taking that step, no one can open credit in your name while the report remains locked.
Some ID theft protection services help you lock your credit, but you also can contact the credit bureaus on your own to take this step. (If you later need to try to open a new line of credit, you must unlock your credit before you can apply for new credit.)
Ultimately, identity theft protection services are not perfect. They make a lot of marketing promises, some of which are spot on and some of which are exaggerations. Carry a little skepticism about any promises these services make and look for a service that offers features in areas that match the key aspects of your financial life. You then should be able to make an informed choice about whether you want to subscribe.