Identity Guard Review: Best Identity Protection?
Sophisticated identity theft protection featuring IBM® Watson™ artificial intelligence
What We Like
- Affordability: Individual plans for personal use range from $7.50 to $25 per month, billed yearly, which is at the low end of the market.
- $1 million reimbursements: We felt good knowing that we were insured for up to $1 million if anyone should manage to hijack our identities.
- AI identity monitoring: Identity Guard uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence, a computer so smart it has beaten the world’s best chess champions, to keep an eye out for identity theft.
What We Don't Like
- Cheapest plan doesn’t include credit monitoring: If you’re looking for comprehensive identity theft protection, the cheapest plan isn’t a good choice due to its lack of credit monitoring. Credit monitoring is available starting with the $16.67 per month Total plan.
- Third-party sharing: We were disappointed to learn that Identity Guard shares our data with third-party vendors since that makes us more vulnerable to annoying solicitations.
- Weaker encryption: Identity Guard uses 128-bit AES encryption to safeguard our data. The industry standard is 256-bit AES. 128-bit is still pretty good, but 256-bit would have been better.
Bottom LineCredit monitoring, financial monitoring, dark web scanning, and criminal monitoring are just some of the features that Identity Guard covers. Starting at just $7.50 per month, you really can't find a more affordable service than Identity Guard, especially one that uses artificial intelligence to improve its monitoring.
Guarding your identity is a tall task, one that you can probably do on your own, but is best done by professionals. Identity Guard is a service that offers identity theft protection. And it’s not just like any other similar service. It leverages world-class artificial intelligence to detect threats to your identity faster than other services, while also offering standard safety nets like identity theft insurance.
To see if Identity Guard was the right service for us, and to help you decide if it’s the right one for you, too, we took a deep dive into its features, user experience, apps, pricing, and customer support.
But before we start, here’s a brief overview of the service.
- Individual plans for personal use range from $7.50 to $25 per month, charged to you yearly.
- Identity theft insurance** with a maximum reimbursement of $1 million
- Monitored three credit bureaus (with Total plan or Ultra plan)
- Family plans for two adults and a number of children
Gabe Turner, our Chief Editor, tested out Identity Guard on our Youtube channel. Watch below to see the app in action.
Next, we looked at each way Identity Guard helped protect users from identity theft.
One of Identity Guard’s core features is credit monitoring, which kept us in the know had someone used our personal information to take out loans or open new credit lines in our names. Identity Guard’s credit monitoring also includes credit score updates, as well as credit reports, from the three major credit reporting bureaus. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Once you receive your credit reports, you should analyze it to spot signs of identity theft, but we’re just glad that Identity Guard makes it so much easier to obtain credit reports.
Take note: Credit monitoring isn’t available with the cheapest plan. You’ll need either the Total or Ultra plan to get that feature. Once you have credit monitoring, however, you’ll also receive monthly credit scores for free and alerts about credit changes from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Aside from credit changes, scores and reports, Identity Guard monitored our finances. Identity Guard kept a close watch on all our assets, from our 401(k) and investment accounts to high-risk transactions, debit and credit cards. The company notified us after new banking accounts or takeovers opened in our names. And if our address, Social Security number, or personally identifiable information popped up on financial forms, Identity Guard would certainly alert us.
Like credit monitoring features, financial monitoring isn’t a part of the cheapest plan. For this feature, you’ll need the Ultra plan, although with the Total plan, you’ll still receive alerts in case of a bank account takeover or when someone opens a checking or savings account with your information. Monitoring investment accounts, 401(k), and credit card transactions, on the other hand, require the Ultra plan.
Finally, Identity Guard offers features that work together to protect your personal information. Every plan includes identity monitoring, which entails monitoring of the most common areas where identity theft can be spotted, such as the dark web and government records. Identity Guard also takes a proactive approach to identity protection by offering apps that guard against phishing attacks. Here’s a breakdown of Identity Guard’s identity protection features.
- Dark web scan: The dark web, an area of the internet in which all users remain anonymous, is a hotbed of cybercrime. As part of our membership, Identity Guard sent us alerts if it found our credentials on the dark web. The one time this occurred, Identity Guard explained the situation plainly and prompted us to change our passwords.
- Criminal and sex offense monitoring: If the system found our names on a sex offender registry or police report, it would have notified us right away, but thankfully, this didn’t happen to us.
- USPS address change monitoring: We appreciated that Identity Guard protected us from mail fraud by ensuring the accuracy of our mailing address. In fact, its team would have notified us if someone attempted to change our address.
- Home title monitoring: If someone opened a home title in our names, or tried to transfer a home title from our names to theirs if we ever had one, Identity Guard would let us know immediately.
- Risk management report: Identity Guard produced a report that showed us how at risk we were for identity fraud.
- Safe browsing tools: Identity Guard even had a browser extension that helped protect our privacy online, fighting against phishing attacks, blocking ads, flash, trackers, and mining.
- Anti-phishing mobile app: Aside from the Identity Guard Classic app, the company offered us the Anti Phishing by Identity Guard mobile app, which detected and blocked phishing websites on Chrome, Dolphin, and Samsung Internet.
- Social insight report: Using artificial intelligence from IBM® Watson™, the social insight report analyzed our Facebook account to assess our “online image” and even suggested improvements.
We received communication from Identity Guard via SMS, app, and email alerts regularly. If we experienced identity theft, we were eligible to receive up to $1 million in reimbursement, the industry standard for identity theft insurance.
Identity Guard Identity Theft Protection Features
|Monthly cost for annual plan||$7.50 – $23.99|
|Credit score monitoring||Yes|
|Sex offender registry monitoring||Yes|
|Risk management report||Yes|
|Identity theft insurance reimbursement maximum||Up to $1 million|
|Live chat customer support||No|
|Customer information shared with third parties?||Yes|
Privacy and Security
Getting an identity protection service is similar to storing valuable items in a safety deposit box. The safe deposit box safeguards your items, but you need to trust the bank enough to keep your items there in the first place. In the same manner, you must choose an identity protection service that you can trust enough to hand over your most sensitive personal information. Can you trust Identity Guard? We looked at its privacy to find out.
We learned that Identity Guard offers our information to third parties or free services, but not for advertising or marketing purposes. Of course, it was up to us how much information we wanted to input into the Identity Guard app, but the more information we gave, the more the services could monitor (and also share with third parties, potentially), so it was a bit of a double-edged sword. At a minimum, this included our usernames, passwords, birthdays, Social Security numbers, and payment information.
Fortunately, its customer data was encrypted, but it was only encrypted with 128-bit encryption, and the industry standard is 256-bit. While the company hadn’t experienced any data breaches so far, it’s not the best choice for those extremely concerned about privacy.
If you fall into that category, consider upgrading to a service with 256-bit encryption like Experian IdentityWorks. As detailed in our Experian IdentityWorks review, higher encryption means the software is better equipped to safeguard your most sensitive information.
On a more positive note, we found it easy to set up and use Identity Guard. After we filled in our information and paid, we viewed our alerts in the Identity Guard Dashboard and verified our identity in two ways: we answered a few multiple-choice questions and a couple of threat questions.
The more information we gave Identity Guard, the more data they could spit back at us, especially for the AI-powered features like the social insight and risk management reports.
Once we’d input all our information, we navigated between the Dashboard, the alerts, and Watchlist, plus, our credit reports and scores*.
How Much Does Identity Guard Cost?
Identity Guard’s prices are some of the lowest we’ve seen. For individuals, the monthly cost ranges from $8.99 to $29.99 per month, but you can sign up for a year at discounted rates. For instance, you can save as much as $5 per month, which adds up to $60 a year, with the annual Ultra plan. The same concept applies to family plans. Monthly rates range from $14.99 to $39.99 monthly, but annual plans can save you up to almost $7 a month. Here’s the breakdown.
|Features and pricing||Value||Total||Ultra|
|401k and Investment Account Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Annual Credit Report from 3 Bureaus||No||No||Yes|
|Bank Account Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Credit and Debit Card Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Credit Monitoring from 3 Bureaus||No||Yes||Yes|
|Criminal and Sex Offense Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Customer Support Based in U.S||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dark Web Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Data Breach Notifications||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|High Risk Transaction Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Home Title Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Identity Theft Insurance with $1 Million Maximum Reimbursement||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Monthly Credit Score from 3 Bureaus||No||Yes||Yes|
|Risk Management Report||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Safe Browsing Tool||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social Media Insights Report||No||No||Yes|
|USPS Address Change Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|White Glove Resolution Concierge||No||No||Yes|
|Monthly plan for individuals||$8.99/month||$19.99/month||$29.99/month|
|Annual plan for individuals||$90.00/year||$200.00/year||$300.00/year|
|Yearly savings with the annual plan||$17.88||$39.84||$59.88|
|Monthly plan for families||$14.99/month||$29.99/month||$39.99/month|
|Annual plan for families||$150.00/year||$300.00/year||$400.00/year|
|Yearly savings with the annual plan||$29.88||$59.88||$79.92|
Identity Guard offers plans for business and personal use, and within those two categories, individuals and groups. Regardless of which subscription plan we selected, we chose between annual or monthly contracts. We had no trouble finding an Identity Guard plan that worked for us. Identity Guard has a plan for spouses as well, a rarity in the identity monitoring industry.
Identity Guard has three personal plan options for identity theft protection services: Value, Total, and Ultra.
The Ultra plan provided the most coverage whether through the individual plan or the Identity Guard family plan, although it was a reasonable price at either $29.99 per month or $300 per year for an individual. We signed up for a year because we knew we wanted to test out the service, and it includes a 17 percent discount. All plans include a $1 million reimbursement maximum for identity theft, but only the Total and Ultra plans monitor credit scores and reports from all three credit-reporting bureaus.
Unfortunately, Identity Guard doesn’t offer a free trial. However, they do provide a 30-day money-back guarantee, which can work as a trial. Try the software out, and if you aren’t satisfied within those 30 days get your money back. It’s a sort of free trial for Identity Guard, only, it’s not free because you have to pay first.
We appreciated Identity Guard’s 30-day guarantee as a substitute for a free trial. If you’d rather go the try-before-you-buy route, our IdentityIQ review and our LifeLock review are good places to start.
Identity Guard’s customer support was fine, but it didn’t impress us. Although there is a section on frequently asked questions, as well as useful articles, on Identity Guard’s website, we didn’t find much online customer support. We had to call its phone line, which is only available on certain schedules. On weekdays, the phone line is open from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., and on Saturdays, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., EST. The line is closed on Sundays.
On top of that, there’s no live chat support option. The majority of identity theft services we tested have this option, so it’s a bit disappointing to find out that if we needed help, we would have to talk on the phone. That being said, Identity Guard’s phone support did prove useful those times that we called.
The Identity Guard Classic App
We used the Identity Guard Classic app to receive user alerts, access our credit information, and check out the latest news on identity theft incidents.
Unfortunately, the app had a low rating from iOS users, only a 2.2 out of five stars.
One user wrote in a recent one-star review,
“App is overly simplistic with little to no details. I have three credit tracking services and Identity Guard missed everything that affected my credit score. I opened new accounts, no alerts.”
Android users felt a little differently, giving the app a 2.7 rating on the Google Play store.
Identity Guard IBM® Watson™ users should do their own research about the iOS and Android apps that work with that version. We only tested out the Classic version.
For what it’s worth, the Identity Guard Classic app is still more intuitive than the app experience we noted in our IdentityForce review.
While still an excellent choice for identity theft protection, IdentityForce’s app didn’t impress us, either. If you’d prefer desktop access over mobile, check out ID Watchdog. In our review of ID Watchdog, we noted the absence of a companion app for mobile access, but the company’s impressive identity restoration assistance pretty much made up for it, if we had ever been the victim of identity theft.
Overall, we appreciated Identity Guard’s comprehensive features and low prices on the lower-tiered plans. However, we still felt anyone concerned about privacy might want to find an identity monitoring service that does not share information with third parties.
Identity Guard’s identity theft insurance** offers a maximum reimbursement of $1 million.
** Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.
* The score you receive with Identity Guard is provided for educational purposes to help you understand your credit. It is calculated using the information contained in your TransUnion credit file. Lenders use many different credit scoring systems, and the score you receive with Identity Guard is not the same score used by lenders to evaluate your credit.
Identity Guard® FAQs
Is Identity Guard any good?
Overall, we appreciate Identity Guard’s comprehensive features and low prices. However, we have some privacy concerns as a result of the service sharing user information with third parties.
Which is better, LifeLock or Identity Guard?
We recommend Identity Guard over Lifelock. While plans with both companies start at around $7 to $9 per user per month, Identity Guard uses Watson by IBM, a powerful computing tool, to provide identity theft and credit monitoring. Plus, only Identity Guard can help you remove your information from mailing lists and the dark web.
What does Identity Guard do?
Identity Guard monitors changes in our credit file as well as our checking and savings accounts. If changes are detected, Identity Guard alerts us through email, SMS, or the Identity Guard Classic app. There are also more cybersecurity features available, like dark web monitoring and anti-phishing software.
How much does Identity Guard cost?
Identity Guard costs:
Pricing Value Total Ultra Monthly plan for individuals $8.99/month $19.99/month $29.99/month Monthly plan for families $14.99/month $29.99/month $39.99/month Annual plan for individuals $90.00/year $200.00/year $300.00/year Annual plan for families $150.00/year $300.00/year $400.00/year
Which identity protection tool is best?
Based on our tests, Aura is the best identity protection tool, followed closely by Identity Guard. Both services offer robust identity and credit protections, but Aura simply offers a better user experience. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Aura owns Identity Guard, so whichever service you choose between the two, you’ll be dealing with the same company.
Where is Identity Guard located?
Identity Guard is located in the United States. That means that they’re under the jurisdiction of the three international surveillance alliances, Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes. If there’s reasonable cause, the company could be forced to hand over customer information.