We tested out Identity Guard's Premier plan, which includes monitoring from criminal areas as well as all three credit bureaus.
- Identity theft protection powered by IBM® Watson™ AI
- Impressive $1 million in identity theft insurance
- Multiple service levels, from basic to advanced
When we were in elementary school, we had to sing a song in choir class about identity. The lyrics went: “Identity is the world of me. Identity is a fact, you see.” But what happens when that identity is stolen? Whatever the answer is (knock on wood, it’s never happened to us!), we’re committed to laying out everything you need to know about the various brands of identity protection. Here we’ll break down everything you need to know about Identity Guard’s offerings and whether or not they’re worth it.
Can We Do A Free Trial of Identity Guard First?
Let’s cut to the chase because we all know that money can be tight. It’s part of why we’re interested in identity protection services in the first place. Of course, we never pass up a free trial—never—and we always know where to find them. Much to our dismay, we didn’t find one at Identity Guard. What were there were deals for signing up for an annual subscription versus monthly, and another deal that offered 20% off the first month. It’s not free, but it’s not nothing.
Our Favorite Features
Once we got over the fact that we’d be paying from the get-go, we logged into Identity Guard and began to explore what all the fuss was all about. It turned out we liked Identity Guard enough to name it one of the best ID theft protection services overall. It’s top features?
- IBM Watson © Artificial Intelligence: Available through all the plans, IBM Watson © is a feature that gathers insights about potential identity theft threats, which Identity Guard claims gives them the quickest response time for inquiries made with the three credit bureaus.
- Low Prices: Identity Guard has some of the lowest prices around, with the Value plan pricing in at $8.99 per month for an individual and only $14.99 per month for a family.
- Three Credit Bureaus: Even though credit reports are only available through the Total and Ultra plans, these offerings cover all of the basics we need to keep up to date on our credit. Simple and to the point.
What’s In a Subscription Package?
Now that we’ve eaten the identity protection dessert, so to speak, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes. What’s actually included in an Identity Guard subscription?
|Coverage||One adult||One full household||One adult||One full household||One adult||One full household|
|Credit Bureaus Monitored||None||None||Transunion, Equifax, Experian||Transunion, Equifax, Experian||Transunion, Equifax, Experian||Transunion, Equifax, Experian|
|Identity Theft Insurance with $1 Million Maximum Reimbursement||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customer Support Based in U.S.||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Risk Management Report||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data Breach Notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dark Web Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|High-Risk Transaction Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Safe Browsing Tool||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Credit and Debit Card Monitoring||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|401k and Investment Account Monitoring||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Criminal and Sex Offense Monitoring||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|White-Glove Resolution Concierge||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Home Title Monitoring||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Annual Credit Report from 3 Bureaus||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Bank Account Monitoring||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social Media Insights Report||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|USPS Address Change Monitoring||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Monthly Credit Score from 1 Bureau||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Credit Monitoring from 3 Bureaus||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
There are three tiers to the Identity Guard subscription: Value, Total, and Ultra. We could sign up either as an individual or as a family, which means any and all adults and children living in one household. We actually thought about signing up as a family with our roommates, which would be a great deal for a bunch of young adults trying to save money, live life and also protect our Social Security numbers. But ultimately, we went for the individual plans because our roommates already had their own service preferences (although we’re definitely keeping this idea in mind for future roommate situations).
Did You Know: In 2017, nearly 79 million adults, or 31.9% of the adult population, lived in a shared household, a.k.a., with roommates.1 These non-traditional, chosen families are just as important to many of us as our biological families, so we highly recommend talking to your roommates to save on identity protection! Make it like electricity or Wi-Fi, just another bill you’re splitting.
Once we decided to go forth as individuals, we had to decide which level of coverage we wanted. Since there’s no free trial, we were hesitant about spending too much, but the plans are all reasonably priced. The Value plan lives up to its name and is honestly a great value—less than $10 for an individual and $15 for a family on a monthly basis. For one person, that’s the cost of less than two fancy Brooklyn coffees per month. We figured that we can brew a pot at home once or twice a month in order to protect the most important digital information of our lives.
The plans increase from there, but there are a lot of core services that are offered across all three levels:
- IBM Watson © Artificial Intelligence: This is the fancy artificial intelligence software we mentioned above that monitors the world for potential theft.
- $1 million insurance with stolen funds reimbursement: As you might know from reading our other identity monitoring reviews, $1 million is the standard insurance coverage across the industry. But some other services don’t provide this much at the most basic level, so it’s nice to see that Identity Guard does.
- U.S-based dedicated case manager: A real-life person dedicated to us and our stolen identity, should the problem ever arise. As cool as IBM Watson © is, it’s nice to know that if everything goes wrong, there will also be a real person there to walk us through freezing our credit and taking back control of our credentials.
- Risk management score: This is the score that doesn’t lie. It tells us how at risk of identity fraud we might be, and how our actions and lifestyles change our score. Without naming names, let’s just say one of us has a lifestyle much more conducive to high-risk management scores than the other.
- Online identity dashboard: The more information we feed the beast, the more monitoring it can give us. The dashboard has many boxes providing easy access to potential alerts, the Watchlist, and our credit reports and scores.
- Mobile application: We love a mobile app. You may not know this about us but Aliza is an iPhone girl for life, but Gabe swears by his Android. It’s the biggest fight we always have, but somehow we get by. Luckily, Identity Guard has an app for both of us to enjoy, bug-free on either device.
- Monitoring for personal information on the dark web: The dark web is truly the scariest thing to ever come out of the internet. We’ve never personally been on the dark web, but that doesn’t mean our information hasn’t been there; it’s a hotbed of anonymous cybercrime. While we were trying out Identity Guard, there was a data breach at one of the online platforms we use to order sushi, and our username and password were actually on the dark web, just waiting to be sold. Fortunately, Identity Guard sent us an alert and we were able to change our password on the platform in minutes. Our sushi was safe, but so were our identities.
- Monitoring high-risk transactions: If you’re a millennial like we are, think of a high-risk transaction as one your mother would make, but you never will. Not in the “owning a home” sense, but in the “well, this anonymous person on the Internet says he’s my cousin Gary…” sense. It’s hard to know who exactly you’re giving your credit card information to online these days, which is why this monitoring is key.
- Anti-phishing mobile app: A second app! Identity Guard also offers the Anti Phishing by Identity Guard app, which can detect and block phishing websites on Chrome, Dolphin and Samsung Internet. That’s a good thing because phishing has gotten so sophisticated that even digital security experts like us have fallen for it in the past (it turned out to be a Target coupon that was too good to be true).
- Safe browsing extension: With Identity Guard, we were protected not only on our phones but also on our laptops. Identity Guard has a browser extension that helps protect our privacy online, which includes an ad and flash blocker, tracking protection, mining protection and more.
FYI: Phishing rose 40.9% in 2018, and most phishing takes place in the United States.2 You always think you’re too smart to be susceptible…until you aren’t. Apps and tools like what Identity Guard’s browser extension will protect you even when you’re being too confident.
It was comforting to know that even with the basic plan, we’d have all of these services at our disposal. However, there’s one major service that isn’t available through the Value plan, and that’s basic credit monitoring. We needed to upgrade to either Total or Ultra in order to receive a monthly credit score from one bureau with three-bureau credit monitoring. Only with the Ultra plan could we receive a three-bureau annual credit report.
So how important credit scores and monitoring are to you personally will probably have a big impact on which plan you choose to go with. We felt like credit monitoring was important to have, and were happy to see both that Identity Guard had options with monitoring from all three bureaus. The credit score updates themselves are less important to us—we rent our apartments and don’t plan on going to graduate school anytime soon, or ever—so the monthly one bureau updates were plenty. That’s right folks, we played it right down the middle with a Total plan.
But you should know some of the monitoring we missed out on that’s available with Ultra: social media insights, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, 401(k), address changes, and more. To learn more, read our full review of Identity Guard.
Identity Guard’s Cancellation Policy
You know that feeling when something is supposed to be easy and simple, but it never is, so then the one time something is actually easy and simple, it feels like a miracle? Identity Guard’s cancellation policy makes it simple to stop their service (and definitely makes up for the fact that they don’t have a free trial). We could cancel online literally just by logging into our account and going to the settings page, but if we had been feeling up to a little human interaction (a rarity for us, personally), we could call the Customer Care Center at 1-855-443-7748.
We signed up for a month-to-month subscription because we like to live on the edge and are constantly testing out the latest identity theft protection on the block, but if we’d signed up for an annual subscription, we also could have canceled within 30 days of purchase and gotten our money back.
Overall, we’re fans of Identity Guard’s comprehensive features and affordable pricing, especially on the lower-tier Value plans. We also really appreciate the personal touches in how easy it is to reach a human through a specific case manager or customer service. While it still annoys us that they don’t have a free trial, this certainly isn’t a dealbreaker, and we think Identity Guard is worth it overall.
- Which is better, LifeLock or Identity Guard?
We think Identity Guard is slightly better than Lifelock. They both ranked highly for us, but we gave Identity Guard a 9.5 out of 10 in our review, and LifeLock a 9.3 out of 10. What did that .2 difference come down to? For us, it was privacy. LifeLock has run into some issues with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding their lack of protection surrounding customer data, while Identity Guard’s history is relatively tame.
- What is Identity Guard with Watson?
Identity Guard provides a service called IBM Watson © Artificial Intelligence. IBM created a computing system called Watson that can scour the internet for users’ credentials. Identity Guard uses this tool to gather insights about potential identity theft threats, which they claim gives them the shortest response time for inquiries made with the three credit bureaus.
- Is Identity Guard a legitimate company?
Yes, Identity Guard is a legitimate company founded in 2001 with about 500 employees.
- Where is Identity Guard located?
Identity Guard is based in Herndon, Virginia. But, obviously, the service is available online wherever and whenever you are located in the United States. For us, Identity Guard worked just as well in Brooklyn as it would in Virginia.
- How much is Identity Guard per month?
The cost of Identity Guard depends on what plan you sign up for. If you’re signing up just for you, the plans range from $8.99 to $24.99 a month. If you’re signing up for a family, meaning anyone and everyone in your household, those plans cost between $14.99 to $39.99 a month. Of course, there are savings to be had if you sign up for an annual plan.
US Census. (2012). Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic Well-Being: 2007–2010.
Phish Labs. (2020). 2019 Phishing Trends and Intelligence Report.