ID Watchdog Review
Equifax-owned and praised for their comprehensive ID theft restoration services
It’s a fact that no company out there can completely prevent identity theft from happening, but with some simple monitoring tools, you can greatly reduce your chances. In this review, our experts are testing out ID Watchdog, a service founded in 2005, and purchased by Equifax in 2017.1 Now, you may recognize Equifax as one of the three major credit-monitoring bureaus in the United States (not to mention they had a pretty large data breach2 a few years back). We’ll get to all of that and more in this ID Watchdog review.
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 important. Otherwise, keep on reading to hear about how ID Watchdog works.
Using ID Watchdog
After selecting a subscription (more info on our options below), we entered in some basic personal information like our names and credit card numbers, along with our billing address, of course.
Once we paid for our monthly subscription, we filled out even more personal information, including our full Social Security numbers, birthdays, and a couple of security questions. This is also where we created our usernames and passwords.
Next, to make sure that we are who we say we are, ID Watchdog had us verify our identities with a few more simple questions.
Finally, we were in the dashboard. As you can see, it’s well-designed and straightforward, allowing us to catch up on alerts, our credit scores and reports, and more.
Now, we’re not sure if this was just a one-off, but when we tried to look at our credit information, nothing was coming up. Hopefully, this was just a glitch. But otherwise, we could check our alerts easily as well as give them more information about ourselves over the phone, a rarity in this online world.
We had no alerts to speak of, which meant that our identities were safe, for the time being.
The ID Watchdog App
When we weren’t at our laptop, we checked out ID Watchdog via its mobile application for iOS, although an Android version is also available on the Google Play store. We signed in with the username and password we created and even enabled Touch ID so we’d have to use our fingerprint to access our account on our phones.
Piece of Advice: If you have fingerprint or facial recognition on your phone, you can use it to sign into the ID Watchdog app on iOS or Android. Take advantage of multi-factor authentication, as it prevents unauthorized access to your account.
After answering our security question, we were brought to the main dashboard of the app, which showed all of our recent alerts (fortunately for us, there were none to show).
But again, when we tried to check our credit, nothing was coming up. Even when we refreshed the page, no information was populating, for whatever reason.
Despite this blunder, it was easy to navigate through the ID Watchdog app through the bottom part of the screen. For example, we clicked on the dark web scan to see if our credentials were found.
We could also provide more information for them to monitor on the app. So aside from the credit monitoring, we liked ID Watchdog’s app.
ID Watchdog Features
Now that we know what it’s like to sign up for and use ID Watchdog, let’s talk about what we actually got with our Premium subscription, which has all of the features available:
- Credit score tracking: Every day, at least in theory, we got our credit score from Equifax, which again, owns ID Watchdog.
- Credit reports: The monthly reports extended to all three bureaus, which tacked on Experian and TransUnion. But daily, we would’ve gotten our credit reports from Equifax, had the app or website worked as it should have.
- VantageScore Credit Scores: VantageScores are another way for lenders to decide who to loan money to, much like FICO scores.3 We were supposed to get an updated VantageScore daily from Equifax and yearly updates from all three bureaus, but again, there was that glitch.
- 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.
- Identity monitoring: This large category included monitoring for the dark web, high-risk transactions, subprime loans, public reports, change of address requests through USPS, and even the national sex offender registry. Don’t know what the dark web is? Consider yourself lucky. The dark web is a section of the Internet only accessed through special software; think of it as a digital black market where billions of stolen credentials are purchased and sold.4 Basically, if ID Watchdog found any of our information in these places, we’d get alerted immediately.
- Financial accounts monitoring: Once we input our investment, savings, credit, and credit card information, ID Watchdog monitored them for any potential fraudulent activity. That’s a good thing because we want to keep our hard-earned money as much as we do our identities.
- 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.
- Assistants 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 our credit reports with Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
- Solicitation reduction: If you’re anything like us, then you receive credit card offers and telemarketing calls on a daily basis. Not only did ID Watchdog put us on the National Do Not Call Registry, but they also greatly reduced the amount of junk mail we got, keeping our minds, inboxes, and cell phones more clutter-free.
- Resolution specialists: If our identities were ever stolen, we’d get actual humans to help us until everything was resolved.
- Identity theft insurance: We’d also be liable for up to $1 million in reimbursement if our identities were stolen, which is a relief as the average identity theft leaves people $10,200 less rich.5
- 401(K) HSA Stolen Funds Reimbursement: A feature definitely not part of all identity monitoring services, ID Watchdog would even reimburse us for money stolen from our 401(K) or HSA funds. This maximum of $500,000 covered all of our employee stock options, health savings, and retirement accounts sponsored by our employers. In other words, ID Watchdog didn’t forget to protect our savings, as well.
This coverage is super comprehensive, so at least on paper, we felt really safe with ID Watchdog. But are they trustworthy as a company? Let’s find out together.
Privacy and Security
It’s no secret that Equifax owns ID Watchdog, and if you were around a couple of years ago, you might remember their gigantic data breach which exposed the data of 147 million people,6 which eventually settled for up to $425 million. This happened the same year that Equifax bought ID Watchdog, 2017. The bad news is that Equifax has your 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 has got covered for us.
The bad news? Even if we cancel our subscription, ID Watchdog will keep this information, but the good news is that they won’t share it with third parties for marketing purposes. Plus, ID Watchdog encrypts our data using TLS, which stands for Transport Layer Security. Using a handshake method, TLS authenticated our sessions and made our connections secure.8 Plus, with Touch ID, we were 100% confident that the only people who could access our ID Watchdog apps were us. After all, each and every fingerprint is unique, just like the people who have them, not to be a total sap.
FYI: If you’re protective of your data, ID Watchdog definitely isn’t a good choice, as they’ll keep it even after you cancel your subscription.
Of course, since ID Watchdog is based in Denver, Colorado, legally, the government could make them hand over customer data, but that’s true of all the identity monitoring services we’ve reviewed. If you want a history lesson, that’s because of the United States’ membership in the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances. However, unless you’re involved in some shady stuff, this shouldn’t be a problem for most.
Okay, we know that was a lot, and for those super concerned about privacy, ID Watchdog is clearly not your best bet. But, as they say, forgive and forget, and since many large tech companies we still use on a daily basis have had gigantic breaches (looking at you, Nest Secure and Ring Alarm), we’re willing to let this one slide.
On a much more positive note, 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 to be super helpful and thorough. There’s also a pretty extensive online help center, so in general, we feel really good about ID Watchdog’s customer service.
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||x||Daily|
|Credit Reports from 1 Bureau and VantageScore Credit Scores from 3 Bureaus Frequency||x||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||✓||✓|
|Assistance for lost wallets, fraud alerts, credit freezes||✓||✓|
|Financial Accounts Monitoring||x||✓|
|Equifax Child Credit Lock with Family Plan||x||✓|
|Identity Theft Resolution Specialists||✓||✓|
|Identity Theft Insurance up to $1 Million||✓||✓|
|401(K)/ HSA Stolen Funds Reimbursement up to $500,000||x||✓|
|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 it really simple when it comes to their subscription options, breaking it down into two options: Plus or Premium. We, of course, 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 covers two adults and up to four children. However, other services that we’ve reviewed have family plans that cover up to ten kids, like ID Shield. For more options, check out our picks for the best identity monitoring services for families.
In general, ID Watchdog’s pricing is reasonable, and we definitely got a lot of bang for our buck. The Premium plan is certainly worth the extra $5 a month for the financial account monitoring alone. Now, the company also offers business plans, but you can read more about that on our main pricing page for ID Watchdog.
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!
Even though ID Watchdog certainly has its shortcomings, at the end of the day they do a great job of monitoring our identity and supporting us if it is stolen. 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…
- Complete coverage: From our bank accounts to the sex offender registries, ID Watchdog did a ton of monitoring to make sure our identities weren’t stolen.
- 24/7 customer support: Day or night, live representatives are available over phone or email to help us out.
- Reasonable prices: Starting at just $14.95 for individual monthly coverage, ID Watchdog’s pricing is on par with its competitors.
But don’t get ID Watchdog if you want to avoid…
- History of data breaches: Equifax, ID Watchdog’s parent company, had a huge 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 their customers’ data even after their subscriptions are over.
If ID Watchdog doesn’t sound like your thing, we have a few other guides to choose from, including the best identity theft protection with fraud alerts, dark web monitoring, and credit reporting. We’ve tested out literally dozens of identity monitoring services so you don’t have to!
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)?