Aura Identity Theft Protection Review
What We Like
- Identity, credit, and device protection all in one
- Customizable personal identification information tracking
- Full 24/7 customer support via phone and live chat
What We Don't Like
- Several key features not available for Mac users
- Difficult to navigate Android app
- Located in the U.S., so Five Eyes member
You wouldn’t drive a car without taking some precautions, like buckling your seat belt or purchasing insurance. It’s also wise to take precautions with another common service: the internet.
In our online activity, we reveal some of our most sensitive information: Social Security numbers, birthdates, credit and debit card numbers — the list goes on. If that information falls into the wrong hands, it’s often expensive, not to mention stressful. Let’s take a look at an ID theft protection service called Aura, whose mission is to keep us safe from these threats.
Aura Identity Theft Protection Features
Considering 2020 saw a nearly 50 percent increase in identity theft cases from the year before, there’s no better time than now to purchase protection.1 Aura founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran experienced it himself. After someone stole his credit information in 2014, Ravichandran founded Aura in order to provide a comprehensive, affordable, and easy-to-use digital security product.2
In its quest to offer a comprehensive digital security package, Aura protects customers in three key areas: identity theft, credit and fraud, and device and network security. But what does Aura actually do for us? Let’s break it down.
Identity Theft Protection
Aura identity theft protection keeps our sensitive information secure.
- Personal information and ID monitoring: We don’t want our personally identifiable information, such as ID numbers, floating around the internet. Aura notified us if this registered information fell into the wrong hands.
- Social Security and ID authentication monitoring: Aura monitored the internet to see if anyone used our Social Security numbers or conducted a transaction with our identities (e.g., opening a new bank account).
- Online account monitoring: Aura seemed to be the first to know of any breaches to our online accounts or passwords. (Psst — here are some tips for creating a strong password.)
- $1 million insurance coverage: In 2020, people reported losing a total of $3.3 billion to fraud, with a median loss of $311. Aura also includes as a benefit identity theft insurance which covers up to $1 million for eligible losses from identity theft, the industry-standard maximum. Aura’s policy goes beyond legal fees to cover wage losses, CPA costs, child care, and more.
- Home title and address monitoring: Aura ensured no one stole our identities by forwarding our mail. We’re not homeowners, but if someone tries to transfer your home title into their name, you’re covered.
- Criminal and court records monitoring: Individuals charged with crimes can use our names to impersonate us. Yikes! The good news is that Aura would notify us if our information turned up in criminal or court records.
Credit and Fraud Protection
The credit and fraud protection service lets us sleep easy, knowing our finances are secure.
- Credit monitoring: Aura alerted us to new inquiries on our credit file (like new credit cards or bank loans) across the three major bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Aura claims to send fraud alerts up to four times faster than its competition.
- Monthly credit score: We received our credit score every month and could view its trends over time. That’s pretty standard. (If credit is your priority, check out our best credit protection services review. It’s possible to receive updates weekly, or even daily.)
- Credit lock: With Aura, we locked and unlocked our Experian credit file when we needed, which helped protect us from identity theft and credit fraud.
- Financial fraud monitoring: We linked our financial accounts (including credit cards, bank accounts, and investment accounts) and set alerts for unusual spending activity.
- Bank account monitoring: Sometimes more is merrier, but not when it comes to names on our bank accounts. Aura alerted us if someone attempted to add more account holders or remove our names from existing bank accounts.
- Annual credit report: We were able to view our credit reports from all major credit bureaus.
Device and Network Protection
Besides identity theft protection services, Aura operates a number of other digital security services. That includes antiviruses and VPNs, like the Hotspot Shield VPN we tested. As such, we got extra device and network protection when we purchased an Aura subscription.
- Antivirus: Did you know that there are over 677 million known malware programs, and over 350,000 are discovered each day?3 Scary stuff. Thankfully, Aura’s antivirus protection scanned, detected, and isolated threats for removal.
- VPN: Aura’s VPN protected our internet connection with military-grade encryption to hide our activity from cybercriminals. We felt reassured when we used public Wi-Fi networks, in particular.
Where Does Aura Look For Leaks?
When Aura says it’s “monitoring” the web for unusual activity related to identity, where is it actually looking?
- New account records, like a new credit card or utility account. Identity thieves often use stolen personal information to open new accounts for financial gain.
- The internet is a vast space, and Aura monitors the dark web for any signs of compromised identities. For instance, Aura will notify you if someone else is using your online account, whether it’s your email, social network, or online shopping account.
- Sites on the dark web. If your information is part of a data breach, it may appear on the dark web. That doesn’t sound good! Fortunately, Aura monitored dark web sites, forums, and chatrooms for our info.
- Public records, such as criminal and court records, home title deeds, and licensing records.
- Data broker lists. Data brokers have profiles of millions of people that they sell to advertisers, telemarketers, people search sites, and more. You can blame them for those annoying robocalls and spam! Aura promises that it will soon monitor these lists as well.
Aura’s features offer in-depth identity theft protection. The device and network protection offerings are a particularly nice bonus.
But what’s it actually like to use the product? We tested it out to see.
The Aura Experience
Aura offers a clean desktop dashboard where we managed our alerts, credit score updates, transactions, identity monitoring watchlist, antivirus protection, and VPN.
We customized our watchlist to track a bunch of different personal information:
- Credit and debit cards
- Driver’s license number
- Email addresses
- Financial account numbers
- Health insurance IDs
- Passport numbers
- Phone numbers
- Social Security number
- State ID number
- Loyalty cards
Note that Aura’s antivirus and VPN services are available on Windows, MacOS, iOS, and we hear they will soon be available on Android (on a seperate app, not the Aura app). But if you’re running a Mac, be sure to read our guides to the best antivirus for Macs and best Mac VPNs. Unfortunately, several of Aura’s features are not yet available on macOS or Chrome, including antivirus protection and the VPN, which Aura calls Wi-Fi Security. This shouldn’t pose a problem for Windows, iOS, and Android users, but Mac users will want to take note and check out the best antivirus for Macs as well as the best Mac VPNs.
That said, Aura makes some of these features available in its mobile app …
Using the Aura App
Downloading and logging in to the app was straightforward, with no cumbersome tutorials or instructions. Once we logged on, we set up Touch ID, a form of multi-factor authentication on iOS, for quick and secure access. In our settings, we customized how much time can elapse before we need to reauthenticate.
It was super easy to connect our financial accounts. To start, we selected our bank and entered our credentials directly in the app. Aura uses Plaid to connect our accounts. Other major financial apps, like Venmo and Robinhood, also use Plaid, so we know it’s secure.
From there, we set alert thresholds for our different account types (bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, and others) so that Aura would alert us to certain activity outside the norm. Aura’s transaction-monitoring feature let us know of any large purchases, withdrawals, or balance transfers.
TIP: Customize your alert thresholds for different accounts so that Aura notifies you only when necessary.
Next, it was time to secure our Wi-Fi network. This took just a few seconds! With a single tap, we secured our connection (and turned off the feature when we wanted).
Aura’s Wi-Fi Security uses a virtual private network (VPN), allowing us to browse privately without worrying about hackers. This was useful when we connected to public networks, like a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, like antivirus protection, this feature is not yet available for Chrome users, who might be interested in the best VPNs for Chrome.
Overall, the Aura app was well designed and simple to use on our iPhones. Other Apple customers likely agree, as the app has a four-star rating. And while we didn’t test the Android version of the app, its three-star rating shows that it’s not terrible.
Like any identity theft protection service, Aura collects some data about us — our account information, billing and payment info, identity verification information, and communications with the company.
It also collects information about how we use its services. While Aura won’t collect our precise GPS location without telling us, it may get an approximate location in order to provide certain services, like connecting us to the closest VPN server.
With that much information about us, we were glad that Aura used 256-bit AES to secure our data from breaches and hackers. That’s the highest encryption standard available today, and it’s used by major banks and the military, so we’re confident in Aura’s data security.
Unfortunately, there’s one more thing we’re worried about. Since Aura is based in the United States, a member country of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes international alliances, government agencies can force the company to hand over customer data. That’s bad news, but of course, the government will not just ask for data willy-nilly. It has to be court-approved and only under extremely unlikely circumstances, like to assist in a criminal investigation. And may we point out that each and every identity protection service we’ve tested is based in the United States, so it’s not like Aura is unique in this regard.
Aura Customer Support and Insurance
Aura offers all customers 24/7 support by phone and email. The company encouraged us to call its support team with any questions, or if it detected identity theft or fraud. Aura’s agents have an average of over seven years of experience, so we felt like we were in good hands.
With the Ultimate plan, we also received one-on-one support with white-glove remediation. In the event of identity theft, an Aura case manager will work with us to craft a recovery plan and help us navigate credit bureaus and federal institutions.
Finally, Aura’s identity theft insurance offers up to $1 million in coverage** of not only legal fees but also a number of other eligible losses. These include lost wages, private investigator fees, accountant fees, and even child care you need while dealing with identity theft.
Aura Subscription Options
Aura offers three plans: Basic, Total, and Ultimate. We opted for maximum coverage with the Ultimate plan and saved a few dollars with an annual subscription, but see below what each plan offers, or read our Aura pricing page to get even more details.
|Features||Basic plan||Total plan||Ultimate plan|
|Monthly cost with the annual plan||$7||$13||$20|
|Monthly cost with the monthly plan||$9||$16||$24|
|Personal information and ID monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Alerts if someone else uses your SSN or identity||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Online account and password monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|$1M insurance coverage||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Home title and USPS address change monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Alerts on crimes committed in your name||No||No||Yes|
|Credit monitoring (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)||No||Yes||Yes|
|Monthly credit score||No||Yes||Yes|
|Alerts on unusual spending activity||No||Yes||Yes|
|Monitoring for changes to names on your bank account||No||Yes||Yes|
|Annual credit report||No||No||Yes|
|Antivirus number of devices||1 device||5 devices||10 devices|
|VPN number of devices||1 device||5 devices||10 devices|
|24/7 customer support via phone and email||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|One-on-one white-glove fraud resolution||No||No||Yes|
Aside from these subscriptions, Aura offers family plans in three tiers: Basic, Total, and Ultimate. Basically, family plans include the same features as regular, individual subscriptions. The only difference is that family plans can cover up to 10 individuals, whether adults or children.
|Family subscriptions||Basic plan||Total plan||Ultimate plan|
|Monthly cost with the annual plan||$7||$13||$20|
|Monthly cost with the monthly plan||$9||$16||$24|
Price-wise, Aura’s family plan costs are above the industry average. If you’re looking for more affordable plans that cover the whole family, you should look into Identity Guard family coverage. However, what we like about Aura’s family plans is that they cover up to 10 individuals regardless of age. Typically, family plans only cover two adults and a number of minor children, which makes sense for younger families but not for families with adult children; Aura accommodates both family demographics.
GOOD TO KNOW: Aura refunds annual membership plans within 60 days of purchase, so you can test the waters before diving in. You can cancel over the phone by calling 1-855-712-0021 or through your account dashboard.
If you’re interested in Aura, here are the key points to consider.
Consider Aura if you …
- Are looking for an all-in-one identity theft protection that monitors a number of data sources and transactions.
- Want identity theft insurance that covers you for up to $1 million** for eligible losses.
- Value antivirus and a VPN, at home and on the go.
- Would like to add up to 10 members to your plan.
- Are looking for a password manager
Reconsider Aura if you …
- Are a Mac desktop or Chrome user, as several key features are not yet available on this platform, like VPNs and antivirus software.
- Would like affordable identity theft protection, as Aura’s individual plans can cost up to $40 a month.
With Aura, we feel like all of our bases are covered. Still in the market for a service to protect your identity in real time? Look no further than our list of the best identity theft protection providers.
Federal Trade Commission. (2021). Consumer Sentinel Network: Data Book 2020.
Aura. About Us. aura.com/about
AV-TEST. Security Report 2019-2020. av-test.org/fileadmin/pdf/security_report/AV-TEST_Security_Report_2019-2020.pdf