If you’ve been a victim of fraud or your personal information was leaked in a data breach, ID theft protection is a wise investment. Identity Guard is one of many companies offering such a service, so I tested it out for myself to see how it stacks up against the competition.
For this Identity Guard review I wanted to find out:
- Is Identity Guard worth the price?
- How does Identity Guard protect me?
- Is ID Guard easy to set up and use?
- Does ID Guard have good customer support?
- What does the membership insurance cover?
Identity Guard’s parent company got its start in 2001 as a credit monitoring company. It later expanded to more products, including antivirus and its signature identity theft protection service. Launched in 2013, Identity Guard has been one of the most consistently well-reviewed services on the market. I put it through its paces in this review to see if it really holds up to the hype.
SAVE 33% If you are considering signing up with Identity Guard there is currently a 33% saving here. It’s billed as a limited time offer although it is unclear when the deal expires.
How much does Identity Guard cost? What plan should you get?
Identity Guard offers both individual and family memberships, each with three tiers, for a total of six unique plans:
- Individual (one adult)
- Value: $8.99 per month
- Total: $19.99 per month
- Premier: $24.99 per month
- Family (all adults and children in one household)
- Value: $14.99 per month
- Total: $29.99 per month
- Premier: $34.99 per month
All plans include the following:
- $1 million insurance policy
- A dedicated case manager
- Identity and account monitoring
- High-risk transaction alerts
- Access to the mobile app
- Safe Browsing web browser extension
The Total tier adds on free credit score monitoring and some more alerts, including bank account takeovers and requests to open checking or savings accounts with your info. To be honest, I think these things should be part of any ID theft protection service, so it’s a shame they charge a premium for it.
READER DEAL: Sign up for the Total deal and pay only $19.99 /mo
The Premier plan piles on more extras, including a full three-bureau credit report and a social insight report that analyzes your privacy settings on popular social media.
I tested out the Premier plan for this review, but I’d personally go with the Total plan. It comes with all the necessary protections, and you can just get your credit report for free elsewhere (all US citizens are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies). The social insight report is not worth the difference in price for an individual, in my opinion, but might be useful if you have kids who are active on social media.
Membership insurance: what does Identity Guard cover if my ID is stolen?
Every ID Guard plan comes with $1 million in insurance and stolen funds reimbursement.
What does that actually mean?
In addition to money that’s actually stolen from you, the insurance covers legal and administrative fees incurred in restoring your identity, subject to prior approval. Private investigator fees can also be approved.
You can file for lost wages, travel expenses, elder care, spousal care, and child care, although these are capped at a much lower limit. I can only claim up to $10,000 in lost wages or $1,000 in travel expenses, for example.
There’s no deductible to file a claim.
Monitoring, alerts, and reports
Identity Guard monitors a wide variety of accounts and information and in turn alerts me when it recognizes any suspicious changes. I can view regular reports of suspicious activity and other threats through the online dashboard.
I can monitor most of the things that ID Guard does myself, but it’s really convenient to have ID Guard do it for me and make sure I don’t miss anything. These include unauthorized transactions on my credit card and bank account. Identity Guard lets me register an unlimited number of credit cards and multiple bank accounts for monitoring.
Other things are not as simple to keep track of on my own, and this is where the true value of ID Guard monitoring really shines. For example, I don’t regularly check in on information like:
- Social Security number
- Health Insurance ID Number
- Investment account
- Driver’s license number
- Passport number
- Phone number
- Home address
Any time my information pops up in a suspicious transaction, credit application, or the dark web, ID Guard will spot it and alert me.
How does it do that? Identity Guard recently teamed up with IBM Watson to incorporate artificial intelligence into its monitoring system. The website states:
“We are the first and only identity theft monitoring company to use IBM® Watson™ cognitive computing technology to address the problems of identity theft. With IBM® Watson™ we put artificial intelligence, machine self-learning, human-computer interaction, natural language processing, and data mining together to solve complex identity theft monitoring problems, characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity. We are monitoring more data and gathering more insights about threats than ever before to provide better security for our members.”
Identity Guard monitors “high-risk transactions” including account takeovers, wire transfers, tax refunds, payday loan applications, utility service applications, and cell service applications. Although all plans cover these high-risk transactions, the Value plan notably excludes bank account takeovers. I’m not sure why that isn’t included as a high risk transaction, and it seems to me like any ID theft protection service should monitor your bank account, so I’m disappointed to see Value plan subscribers excluded.
The alerts ask me to verify activity whenever information is updated on my account–passwords and addresses, for instance–or when someone tries to open new accounts or subscriptions under my name. Most credit card companies and banks allow you to set up activity alerts on your accounts free of charge, so there’s less value in that, though they won’t track thieves opening new accounts under your name.
Alerts are sent via email and show up in the Identity Guard website’s dashboard. You can also get notifications via the mobile app on iOS and Android.
The Social Insight Report is only available to Premier users who connect their Facebook, Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. However, ID Guard doesn’t actually monitor those accounts; it just looks at the settings and tells you which ones to change. This is not worth the extra cost, in my opinion, unless you have kids.
Interface and setup
Setting up your Identity Guard account is a fairly straightforward affair. You’ll start by inputting basic personal details including your Social Security number. Once that’s complete, you’ll arrive at a dashboard from which you can add other accounts and ID numbers to your watchlist as needed.
Somewhat worryingly, there’s no two-step authentication process or even an email verification when logging in from a new device or browser. So if anyone learns your Identity Guard account password, you could end up worse off than if you hadn’t signed up in the first place. Two-step verification should be a top priority for ID Guard.
Identity Guard mobile app
The mobile app for iOS and Android is pretty much the same as the website dashboard, with a similar layout but more friendly for mobile users. There’s not much difference in functionality between the two.
It has some sort of anti-phishing protection built in to prevent you from going to phishing sites, but I question whether it really adds any value. Your phone’s default web browser app probably already does this for you.
Identity Guard browser extensions
Identity Guard’s Chrome browser extension, Safe Browsing, adds a few privacy and security improvements to your web browser, including:
- Phishing protection – prevents you from stumbling onto known phishing sites
- Tracking protection – blocks tracking cookies
- HTTPS protection – loads the HTTPS version of a website whenever available
- Ad blocker – blocks ads
- Flash blocker – prevents Flash from loading on web pages
All of these features are useful, but you can get more or less the same protection from other free browser extensions. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Google Chrome at this time.
Identity Guard used to give subscribers access to a password manager called ID Vault and ZoneAlarm antivirus, but that no longer seems to be the case.
Despite being an internet company, Identity Guard relies heavily on telephones to communicate with customers. If you lose your wallet or spot fraudulent charges, call the 1-800 number. If you have a question about your account or some other non-urgent inquiry, call the 1-800 number. A support email address is also listed, but ID Guard notes that it won’t be able to answer any questions related to personal information.
For non-urgent issues, the customer service desk is manned Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can expedite the process on the phone by giving the support rep a verification PIN found in the Help section of your account dashboard.
If you think that you’ve been defrauded or your identity stolen, identity restoration agents are available 24/7.
A call to customer service left me satisfied. I was put on hold for about a minute before getting in contact with a representative, who first asked several questions to verify my identity. Customer service was helpful and polite.
The website’s support page provides a decent assortment of FAQs and other resources for things like filing insurance claims and credit disputes.
Other than the ads on the website, I haven’t received any spam or promotional offers from Identity Guard in my inbox.
Cancelling a membership is very easy. You can do it from your account page on the website by clicking a simple button, or by calling ID Guard on the phone.
Identity Guard is a solid and fairly comprehensive identity theft protection service with a good insurance policy. It’s easy to set up and offers both individual and family plans. I would recommend the mid-tier Total plan, which includes some necessities not included in the Value plan, but not the superfluous extras tacked onto the Premier plan.
READER DEAL: Sign up for the Total deal and pay only $19.99 /mo