ID Watchdog Review
Equifax-owned and praised for their comprehensive ID theft restoration services
In this review, we tested out ID Watchdog, an Equifax-owned identity protection service. Did ID Watchdog meet their high standards? Keep reading to learn about how ID Watchdog works and hear our experts’ evaluations.
See ID Watchdog in action as our chief editor Gabe Turner tests out the service on our YouTube channel.
Pros and Cons
Short on time? Here are the main things we liked and didn’t like about ID Watchdog.
- Extensive monitoring and alerts: ID Watchdog’s service included dark web monitoring, breach alerts, and even social network alerts.
- Excellent Insurance: If somebody stole our identities, we could count on up to $1 million in identity theft reimbursement plus an extra $500,000 in HSA or 401K reimbursements.
- Top-Notch Security Features: ID Watchdog made it super easy to freeze credit or to prevent certain types of loans from being opened in our names.
- Customer Service: As ID Watchdog subscribers, we had 24/7 access to customer care via phone or email.
- Data Insecurity: Equifax, the credit bureau which owns ID Watchdog, has experienced its share of data breaches, leaving us unsure whether we could trust the company with our information or not.
- Upgrades Required: To get full monitoring, such as monitoring financial accounts, we had to pay for the Platinum plan.
Using ID Watchdog
ID Watchdog’s website was easy to navigate and made signing up for an account and selecting a subscription a breeze. Once we made our secure payment and entered our personal information, we set up two-factor authentication for our account by answering a few simple questions, such as the month of our mother’s birthday and the apartment number of our previous address.
Finally, we finished our account set up and were taken to our dashboard. It seemed well-designed and straightforward, allowing us to catch up on alerts, our credit scores and reports, and more.
Later, however, when we tried to look at our credit information, nothing came up. It turned out this was just a glitch. In the meantime, we were still able to get our alerts and add new information to our account over the phone. As we continued to check our dashboard over time, there were no alerts to speak of, which meant that our identities were safe, for the time being.
ID Watchdog Features
Our Premium subscription came with access to an abundance of features. Most features fit into the following categories: identity, credit, financial, social, and recovery. Read on to find out more about our evaluation of the features in each category.
This broad category included monitoring for our names in a variety of areas, including the dark web; financial accounts, such as high-risk transactions and subprime loans; and legal information, such as public reports, change of address requests through USPS, and the national sex offender registry. If our information was found in any of these places, we’d receive an alert immediately.
ID Watchdog consistently monitors billions of data points, such as credit reports and VantageScore credit scores, for signs of credit fraud.
- Credit score tracking: Every day, we had access to our credit score from Equifax, which again, owns ID Watchdog.
- Credit reports: The monthly reports extended to all three bureaus.
VantageScore credit scores: VantageScores are another way for lenders to decide who to loan money to, much like FICO scores.
- Lock credit reports: If we found activity on our credit reports from any bureau that we thought was fraudulent, we could lock them so that our score couldn’t be changed, saving our credit from possible disaster.
By monitoring our credit cards, investments, and savings accounts for possible fraud, ID Watchdog helped us identify potential threats early, and allowed us to minimize financial damages.
- Financial accounts monitoring: ID Watchdog monitored our investment, savings, credit, and credit card information for any potential fraudulent activity.
- Assistance for lost wallets: Sure, ID Watchdog couldn’t exactly make a lost wallet reappear, but they did help us cancel and replace our cards.
- Assistance for fraud alerts: We didn’t need it personally, but ID Watchdog can help less tech-savvy users set up fraud alerts with all three credit bureaus.
- Assistance for credit freezes: Luckily, we didn’t have to use this feature, but if our identities were stolen, ID Watchdog’s live support specialists would have helped us to freeze all our credit reports.
ID Watchdog also helped us reduce uninvited solicitations. Not only did ID Watchdog add us to the National Do Not Call Registry, they greatly reduced the amount of junk mail we received, which helped us keep our minds, inboxes, and cell phones more organized.
Children’s Credit and Identity Safety
When we activated Child Credit Lock, we were able to create an Equifax credit report for any minor on our account, then freeze it. This freeze meant criminals who tried to open false accounts with that child’s enviable clean credit would be unable to.
Had we experienced a large-scale identity theft, ID Watchdog would have provided us with resources and reimbursements to help get us back on our feet.
- Resolution specialists: If our identities were ever stolen, we’d be assigned an actual human, specifically a U.S-based customer care advocate to help us until everything was resolved.
- Identity theft insurance: We’d also be insured for up to $1 million in reimbursement if our identities were stolen, which is a relief given that the average identity theft leaves people $10,200 less rich.
- 401(K) HSA stolen funds reimbursement: ID Watchdog agreed to reimburse us up to $500,000 for money stolen from our 401(K) or HSA funds, which included coverage for our employee stock options, health savings, and retirement accounts sponsored by our employers.
We found all this coverage super comprehensive, so, at least on paper, we felt really safe with ID Watchdog. But we were still unsure whether ID Watchdog was trustworthy as a company. Here’s what we discovered…
ID Watchdog Identity Theft Protection Features
|Dark web monitoring||Yes|
|Lost wallet assistance||Yes|
|Credit score tracking||Yes|
|Child credit lock||Yes|
|Price||$14.95 – $19.95 per month|
Privacy and Security
It’s no secret that Equifax owns ID Watchdog. However, what not everyone knows is a couple of years back, Equifax had a gigantic data breach, which exposed the data of 147 million people.4 This breach occurred in 2017, the same year Equifax bought ID Watchdog. The worst part of it all is that Equifax has our data no matter what, and there’s no way to opt-out. The only thing we can do is monitor our credit reports and freeze them if we find anything fraudulent, which ID Watchdog covered for us.
- Social Security numbers
- Payment information
- Transaction history
- Credit scores
- Credit history
These pieces of data are all stored by the company long term. On a positive note, ID Watchdog won’t share our information with third parties for marketing purposes. Plus, ID Watchdog encrypts our data using TLS, which stands for Transport Layer Security. Using a handshake method, TLS5 authenticated our sessions and made our connections secure.
Of course, since ID Watchdog is based in Denver, Colorado, the federal government could legally make them hand over customer data,6 but that’s true of all the identity monitoring services we’ve reviewed.
Subscription Options for ID Watchdog
|ID Watchdog Plus||ID Watchdog Premium|
|Number of Credit Bureaus Monitored||1||3|
|Credit Score Tracker from 1 Bureau Frequency||No||Daily|
|Credit Reports from 1 Bureau and VantageScore Credit Scores from 3 Bureaus Frequency||No||Daily/Annually|
|Number of Credit Bureaus With Reports That Can Be Locked||1||3|
|Monitoring for dark web, high-risk transactions, subprime loans, public reports, change of address, sex offender registry||Yes||Yes|
|Assistance for lost wallets, fraud alerts, credit freezes||Yes||Yes|
|Financial Accounts Monitoring||No||Yes|
|Equifax Child Credit Lock with Family Plan||No||Yes|
|Identity Theft Resolution Specialists||Yes||Yes|
|Identity Theft Insurance up to $1 Million||Yes||Yes|
|401(K)/ HSA Stolen Funds Reimbursement up to $500,000||No||Yes|
|Individual Monthly Cost||$14.95||$19.95|
|Individual Annual Cost||$164||$219|
|Individual Annual Savings||$15.40||$20.40|
|Family Monthly Cost||$25.95||$34.95|
|Family Annual Cost||$287||$383|
|Family Annual Savings||$24.40||$36.40|
Unlike other companies, ID Watchdog makes subscription options really simple: Plus or Premium. Of course, we signed up for Premium so we could try out the full enchilada, which cost us $19.95 a month, although we could’ve saved $20.40 had we signed up for a year. There were also plans available for families, which covered two adults and up to four children. However, other services that we’ve reviewed, like ID Shield, have family plans that cover up to ten kids, so this was a bit disappointing. In general, however, ID Watchdog’s pricing is reasonable, and we definitely got a lot of bang for our buck.
Pro Tip: To save money, sign up for a year rather than a month. You could save up to $36.40 for a family of six!
ID Watchdog is one of the only identity protection services we’ve reviewed that offers phone and email support 24/7. When we had a question about what exactly our Premium subscription included, we found our support representative helpful and thorough. There was also a pretty extensive online help center.
The ID Watchdog App
When we weren’t on our laptop, we checked out ID Watchdog via its mobile application for iOS, rated 2.5 out of five by customers. An Android version with a higher rating, 3.5 out of five, is also available on the Google Play store. We signed in with our username and password and even enabled Touch ID so we’d have to use our fingerprints to access our account on our phones.
After answering our security question, we were brought to the app’s main dashboard, which was supposed to show all our recent alerts. But again, when we tried to check our credit, nothing came up. Despite this blunder, it was very easy to navigate through the ID Watchdog app. Overall, we appreciated being able to quickly update and monitor most of our information through the ID Watchdog app.
Even though ID Watchdog certainly has its shortcomings, it does a great job monitoring our identities and supporting us if it is stolen at the end of the day. Their prices are affordable, especially with the annual plans, and their customer support is excellent. But their history is undeniably shoddy when it comes to privacy.
We recommend ID Watchdog if you’d like…
- Comprehensive ID theft protection: From our bank accounts to the sex offender registries, ID Watchdog did a ton of monitoring to make sure our identities weren’t stolen.
- Exceptional financial reimbursement: ID Watchdog customers are covered for $500,000 in 401K and HSA reimbursement in addition to the $1 million in identity theft insurance.
- 24/7 customer support: Day or night, live U.S-based customer care advocates are available to help us out via phone or email.
But don’t get ID Watchdog if you want to avoid…
- History of data breaches: Equifax, ID Watchdog’s parent company, had a massive data breach in 2017.
- Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes member: Based in the U.S., ID Watchdog could be forced to hand over customer data.
- Data policy: ID Watchdog keeps its customers’ data even after their subscriptions are over.
Want to learn more about identity theft in general? Check out our complete guide to identity theft protection: what it covers, what it costs, and why it’s essential.
ID Watchdog. (2020). Contact Us. idwatchdog.com/contact-us
CNBC. (2019). Equifax to pay $700 million for massive data breach.
Experian. (2019). The Difference Between VantageScore Scores and FICO Scores.
Federal Trade Commission. (2003). Identity Theft Survey Report.
Federal Trade Commission. (2020). Equifax Data Breach Settlement.
Equifax. (2020). What Does ID Watchdog Do With Your Personal Information?
Cloudflare. (2020). What Is Transport Layer Security (TLS)?