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Identity Guard® offers solid credit and identity monitoring with plans for all budgets, but it’s not much help when it comes to restoring a stolen identity.
Identity Guard covers all the basics of identity monitoring — name, Social Security number, bank accounts, credit reports, etc. — but it’s missing a few features, like driver’s license monitoring, found among the best identity theft protection services. Its restoration services also leave something to be desired. Though it does offer identity theft insurance and a support hotline, most of the legwork to restore your identity is left up to you. If you’re looking for a company that’ll do the work for you, ID Watchdog, IdentityForce, or LifeLock are better fits.
There are plans available for every budget, though there are some holes in the cheaper plans’ protection. Couples and families may want to give Identity Guard a closer look, as the rates are pretty affordable compared to what you’d find with its competitors. Protection for a family of four costs just $360 per year with Identity Guard. That’s a savings of $174 annually compared to IdentityForce’s prices.
|Price||Identity Guard for Kids: $9.99/month
Identity Guard Essentials: $9.99/month
Identity Guard Gold: $17.99/month
Identity Guard Total Protection: $14.99/month
Identity Guard Platinum: $24.99/month
Couple Plan: $27.99/month
Family Plan: $29.99/month
|Introductory Offers||$5.00 for first 30 days on Essentials, Total Protection, and Platinum plans|
|Types of Plans||Individual, Couple, Family|
|Best For||Families and people interested in credit as well as identity monitoring|
|Not For||People who want a company to do the identity restoration for them|
|Standout Features||SSN Monitoring
3-Bureau Credit Monitoring
Public Record Monitoring
3-Bureau Credit Reports and Scores
Lost Wallet Protection
$1 Million Identity Theft Insurance
The scores you receive with Identity Guard® are provided for educational purposes to help you understand your credit. They are calculated using the information contained in your Equifax‚ Experian and TransUnion credit files. Lenders use many different credit scoring systems‚ and the scores you receive with Identity Guard are not the same scores used by lenders to evaluate your credit.
†Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.
Identity Guard prides itself on providing complete identity theft protection built around your needs. It monitors your credit and personal information and alerts you if it detects certain changes. If you do become a victim of identity theft, Identity Guard will work with you to notify the appropriate authorities and see that your identity is restored.
Is it True?
Sort of. Identity Guard offers pretty comprehensive monitoring of most of your personal information, including your name, Social Security number, address and bank accounts. Depending on the plan you choose, you may also get access to your triple-bureau credit reports (updated quarterly or monthly) as well as your credit scores. However, it’s important to note these aren’t the FICO scores that most lenders use.
The service is missing a few options found amongst its competitors, like driver’s license number monitoring and the option to add extra email addresses to your account. Though not as critical as the information mentioned above, the addition of these extra types of monitoring would help Identity Guard live up to its “total protection” claim.
It’s also worth noting that comprehensive protection comes with a high price tag. Triple-bureau credit monitoring is only included in Identity Guard’s two most expensive plans, which may put it out of reach if you’re on a budget. This isn’t to say there’s no value in its more affordable plans, but it’s important to look closely at the details, so you know what you’re getting and what you’re not.
Of course, the true measure of an identity protection service is how they help you if you become a victim of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission estimates the average person spends over 200 hours restoring their identity — not something you want to do on your own. Many identity theft protection companies obtain temporary power of attorney from you so they can do a lot of the legwork on your behalf. Identity Guard offers restoration assistance and you can contact their Identity Theft Recovery Unit 24/7. Customers will then be assigned a dedicated case member, who can assist in helping report stolen credit cards to creditors, filing a police report, and other preventative measures as needed.
Our Deep Dive
- Intuitive user interface: Navigating your Identity Guard account is straightforward, with most of the important information accessible from the tabs at the top of the page or the Quick Links box. The dashboard gives you a clear overview of what is being monitored and any new notifications on your account.
- Mobile access: Identity Guard has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The apps are user-friendly and let you access your notifications, credit reports, and credit scores on the go. They also link you to help articles with information on identity theft and what to do if you become a victim of identity theft.
- 3-bureau credit analyzer: This simulator helps you understand how certain financial decisions will affect your creditworthiness. Just choose the action from the menu — closing an account, taking out a new loan, etc. — and the tool will automatically adjust your credit scores, letting you know whether it’s a smart move.
- Prompt alerts: Identity Guard sends you an immediate notification by email, phone or text upon detecting unusual activity on your financial accounts. When new accounts are opened or changes are made to your existing accounts, you’ll receive an ID verification alert, which you can either confirm as a valid transaction or take action if it’s fraudulent.
- Lost wallet protection: If your wallet is lost or stolen, Identity Guard will assist you in canceling your cards to prevent fraudulent charges. It can also get you up to $2,000 of emergency cash from your accounts to hold you over until you receive your new cards.
- $1 million identity theft insurance: Should you become a victim of identity theft, Identity Guard will cover the costs to restore your identity. This includes legal fees, lost wages, travel expenses, and child care costs, up to its policy limit. However, it doesn’t replace monetary losses due to a stolen identity.
- ID Vault password protection: ID Vault is a password manager that enables you to store all of your online account usernames, passwords and credit cards in one place. This data is encrypted so hackers can’t steal it.
- Keyboard encryption software: An uncommon offering from an ID theft protection service, Identity Guard’s PrivacyProtect® software comes free with its Total Protection and Platinum plans. This encrypts your keystrokes to protect them from keyloggers trying to steal your passwords. Unfortunately, this software is for Windows only.
- ZoneAlarm® antivirus software: Members of the Total Protection and Platinum plans also have the option to sign up for ZoneAlarm®’s antivirus software at no additional cost. This software includes a firewall and protects you against all types of malware, including spyware.
Identity Guard could run you anywhere between $9.99 and $24.99 per month for an individual subscription, depending on what plan you choose. The Essentials plan is its most affordable option, but the plan lacks public record and credit monitoring, so if you’re looking for a comprehensive solution, this isn’t for you.
For complete credit monitoring, you’ll have to check out either the Total Protection or Platinum plans, at $14.99 and $24.99 per month, respectively. The only difference between the two is that the Total Protection Plan offers quarterly credit report updates while the Platinum Plan offers monthly updates. It’s up to you to decide how close of a watch you’d like to keep on your credit reports, but quarterly updates should be fine for most people.
Identity Guard also has Couple and Family plans, which can save you money if you’re looking to add protection for your spouse or children. Children are increasingly becoming targets for identity theft because they don’t have credit histories, and this type of theft often goes undetected for years. Adding your children to your identity monitoring service can help prevent their credit history from being ruined before it even begins. Identity Guard’s Couple plan costs $27.99 per month and covers two adults living in a single household. The Family plan covers two adults and minor children in a single household for $29.99 per month.
Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives
The truth is, there’s not a lot an identity theft protection service can do for you that you can’t do yourself. The value of a service like Identity Guard depends on your willingness to monitor your information on your own. If that sounds like too much hassle, the $20 a month might be money well spent. But if you’re interested in the DIY approach, give these things a try:
- Check your bank and credit accounts online. Check your monthly statements or even take a daily look at your accounts for signs of unusual activity or fraudulent charges.
- Order your free annual credit reports. According to U.S. law, every citizen is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can order them one at a time, spaced out throughout the year, or all at once.
- Opt out of preapproved credit card offers. Not only can they be annoying, but they’re also a target of identity thieves. Visit OptOutPrescreen.com to stop preapproved credit card offers for five years.
- Shred your junk mail. This prevents thieves from stealing your identity right out of your garbage.
- Be careful of phishers. Don’t click on links in emails claiming to be from your bank. It could be from hackers trying to steal your information. Always type in the web address to be sure you’re going to the right place.
- Place a fraud alert on your accounts. If you become a victim of identity theft, you can contact the credit bureaus yourself to place a fraud alert on your reports. Any lenders looking at your report will then take extra steps to verify the legitimacy of any changes or new accounts to ensure they’re dealing with you and not an identity thief.
- Consider a security freeze. Victims of identity theft can write to each of the three credit bureaus requesting a security freeze be put on their account. This stops lenders from accessing your reports altogether, which helps prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name. There’s usually a fee associated with adding a security freeze, but that varies by state.
- IdentityForce: IdentityForce offers users some of the most comprehensive identity monitoring available and an intuitive online account that can be accessed from anywhere. Credit reports and monitoring are only included in its more expensive plan, UltraSecure+Credit, for $19.95 per month. Those willing to monitor their credit reports on their own may be able to get by with the more affordable UltraSecure plan for $12.95 per month. If you’re looking to protect several members of your family, IdentityForce isn’t for you. It doesn’t offer any family discounts, so you’ll pay full price for every person you add.
- LifeLock: Although it’s been in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission a few times for deceptive advertising practices, LifeLock is still a solid option. It offers comprehensive monitoring of your personal information and, if you become a victim of fraud, it’ll actually do some of the work to see that your identity gets restored. LifeLock offers three plans, ranging in price from $8.99 to $26.99 per month. There’s also a LifeLock Junior add-on for $5.99 per month to help protect children from identity theft.
- TrustedID: Trusted ID’s Essentials plan offers protection to individuals and families for $16.99 or $29.99 per month, respectively. It monitors your credit and basic personal information, but it fails to scan court records or the National Change of Address database, making it a less comprehensive resource than Identity Guard or any of the other companies on this list.
What Others Are Saying
- PC World rated the Total Protection plan as “Good” and felt the monitoring was fairly comprehensive, but they weren’t impressed with Identity Guard’s customer service or what appeared to be an underhanded marketing practice: “Unfortunately, we found Identity Guard’s interface confusing and its customer service line unhelpful. One particular annoyance: Our account page advertised services already covered under the Total Protection plan, inviting unwary consumers to buy the same services twice under different names.”
- Consumer Reports highlights Identity Guard’s personal information monitoring, but points out that this service only alerts you of potential security breaches — it can’t fix them: “Internet scans could give you a false sense of security if they find nothing and scare you if they find something you can’t undo. Assume the genie is already out of the bottle and put a security freeze on your credit report before trouble strikes.”
The Bottom Line
Identity Guard provides solid monitoring of most of your personal information, but it falls a little short of its “total protection” claims. If you’re looking for a service with options for every budget and you don’t mind DIY identity restoration, Identity Guard may work for you. But if you want an identity theft service that will do the restoration work for you, consider ID Watchdog, IdentityForce, or LifeLock.