Identity Guard Review
How We Reviewed Identity Guard
6 plans considered
3 competitors compared
8 hours of research
Identity Guard Review
Identity Guard offers a comprehensive suite of identity and credit monitoring and reporting services. It’s family-friendly, with a nice range of plans to suit individuals and families at several price points. However, credit agency monitoring and reports are only available with the higher-end plans, so if you’re on a budget, you may want to look elsewhere.
On its website, Identity Guard claims to offer "the most powerful, comprehensive identity theft protection available." It says that it will scan for credit apps submitted in your name, including credit cards, cell phone accounts, new mortgages, and more. It will monitor your files at the Big Three credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and allow you to periodically check your credit reports and scores. You’ll be alerted via mail and text alerts if they detect changes to your credit files, such as someone opening an account with your information.
Is it true?
Yes, but with some caveats. The first thing to be aware of is that three-bureau credit reports are only available with the company’s most expensive plan, the premier level, which is $25 for an individual or $35 for a family. The more basic plans monitor threats to your identity using IBM Watson artificial intelligence — an admittedly powerful tool that processes billions of data points instantly, but which doesn't give you access to your reports. There are other benefits of basic levels, too, including $1 million insurance with stolen funds reimbursement. But if your focus is on your credit rating, you’ll pay more to access it. Also, your monthly credit score at the premier level is based only on TransUnion data; your Big Three credit reports are updated annually, and there is no FICO score.
In addition to credit monitoring, all Identity Guard plans include identity theft benefits, including an online identity dashboard that allows you to manage your alerts and tools in one place. An anti-phishing mobile app protects your iOS or Android mobile devices from phishing scams, and you can also download a safe browsing extension for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers that helps protect against malware.
If you’re looking for a company that provides extensive help in the event of a credit or identity breach, Identity Guard is probably not your best choice. The company’s restoration services are limited, and it will not assume a temporary power of attorney (unlike some other companies, such as IdentityForce) to help you through that process.
Those looking for comprehensive credit monitoring and identity theft services, with an emphasis on family plans that offer protection for children as well as adults
Those on a budget or anyone who needs extra help with identity or credit restoration
|Standout features||30-day free trial
Powerful IBM® Watson™ AI services for identity theft
Multiple plans for every budget
Three bureau credit information
|Individual plans||Value: $8.99, family $14.99
Total: $19.99, family $29.99
Premier: $24.99, family $34.99
(note: only Premier plan covers credit agency reports and scores)
|Identity theft insurance||$1 million|
|Support||Toll-free phone (limited hours) or email; response in 24 to 48 hours|
Comprehensive credit services
When you sign up for credit monitoring, you get access to your credit reports based on data from the Big Three credit bureaus. You also get to view your credit score, which is updated monthly (with TransUnion data only), so you can see how it changes over time.
Identity Guard’s dashboard is informative and reassuring. It informs you immediately if you are at risk in any areas and tells you exactly what you should do about it. The site also includes some nice educational resources. You’ll find a thorough review of how the dispute process works, as well as a handy “Don’t Give Up” section if you’re having difficulty straightening out a credit dispute. There’s also a news and information section that is frequently updated, as well as research reports and white papers that delve more deeply into the vast world of fraud detection and consumer credit issues.
Identity protection services
Along with its credit offerings, Identity Guard also provides some of the best identity theft protection services in the industry. The company monitors personal information like your name and Social Security number online and alerts you if they detect any changes, so you can quickly take action if fraudulent charges appear. These services are included in all of its plans.
Capable mobile app
If you value convenience and flexibility, you’ll like the Identity Guard mobile app. Available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, the Identity Guard app allows you to view your credit account, credit score, and alerts from your smartphone. While a mobile app is not likely to be a make-or-break item on the checklist for a credit score or credit monitoring company, it’s a nice added feature and something to consider, particularly if you do much of your business on your phone.
Limited contact hours
We were disappointed by Identity Guard's limited contact options. There’s no live chat feature, and its customer service hours are not 24/7 — phone support closes at 6 p.m. EST on Saturday and doesn't reopen until 8 a.m. EST on Monday. The company promises to respond to emails within 24 to 48 hours, but we expected more options. IdentityForce, for example, clearly lists phone, snail mail, and email information and has a link to its live chat (which, when we tried, connected us to a real person immediately) on every page of its website.
The FICO score is the score most widely used by lenders in the U.S. to determine a person’s creditworthiness, and it’s not offered by Identity Guard. If that’s important to you, you may want to skip Identity Guard and instead shop around for a company that does offer it, like myFICO.
It’s not a deal breaker, but it is annoying: Once you’re a paid subscriber, the company still feels the need to bombard you with advertisements for its other products. We understand that it has to make money, and if it can convince you to upgrade your subscription, it's a win-win — it gets more of your hard-earned dollars and you get more services. But the constant repetition of ads on nearly every page felt more than a little grating.
Annual (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion)
Identity Guard vs. IdentityForce
IdentityForce offers only two plans to Identity Guard’s six, and it doesn’t use the advanced IBM Watson AI software that the latter relies on to monitor your identity. But IdentityForce inches ahead in some areas: The company’s UltraSecure+Credit plan includes payday loan monitoring, sex offender monitoring, a more extensive alert system, and, most importantly, fully managed restoration services, with the company assuming a limited power of attorney to handle the heavy lifting for you with your creditors.
Identity Guard vs. myFICO
As the name indicates, myFICO gives you, along with your three-bureau credit report, the most widely used FICO scores, including newly released FICO Score 9. That’s something you don’t get from Identity Guard. MyFICO has many of the same credit and identity protection features as Identity Guard, such as $1 million identity theft insurance. Your $30 per month subscription to myFICO also earns you a detailed breakdown of the top factors that affect your FICO Score 8, the most widely used score, and a FICO score simulator, which allows you to see how various factors might influence your FICO score.
Identity Guard vs. AnnualCreditReport.com
AnnualCreditReport.com is not exactly in the same category as the other companies we’ve compared, but it is worth mentioning. It allows you to access your annual credit reports from the Big Three (the same benefit that Identity Guard gives you), with one big difference: It’s free. AnnualCreditReport.com is a creation of the Big Three credit agencies and serves as their vehicle for getting your annual credit reports in your hands, as mandated by federal law. There are absolutely no bells and whistles here — no analysis, no monitoring — but if all you need is regular access to your reports, this is the way to go. Note, however, that each agency is only required to give you your report once per year, so we recommend staggering your requests so that you access one every four months.
Identity Guard FAQ
What is IBM Watson AI?
Created by IBM, Watson is a computer system that is able to answer questions posed in natural language. It is blindingly fast and capable of scanning billions of information points almost instantly. Using Watson’s technology, Identity Guard can do a deep dive into the farthest reaches of the internet to ensure that your name and financial information are safe.
Who is covered with Identity Guard’s family plans?
A family plan can include any adults living at your home address, as well as children under the age of 18. To ensure privacy, the subscription holder will not be able to see the personal information for any other adults enrolled on the same plan.
Will a security freeze have any impact on my Identity Guard membership?
A security freeze can prevent a thief from opening a credit card or getting a loan or mortgage in your name, because the creditor won’t be able to review your credit reports. A security freeze doesn’t impact your credit score, nor does it prevent your existing creditors or debt collectors from accessing your report. It also does not impact your ability to enroll in Identity Guard's services or make use of your subscription.