Our modern world is more connected than ever before. Sometimes, that’s a good thing — other times, not so much. It’s nice to be able to contact old friends and family members, but it’s less than thrilling to remember that our most important personal and financial information is stored on servers all over the place — and that hackers and other bad actors with the right skill sets can get in there and steal everything from our money to our social security numbers.
To counter the threat of identity theft, some companies have developed sophisticated monitoring systems that can detect suspicious activity early. Companies like Identity Guard and its competitors offer subscription services that will help you limit your risk and the potential damages of identity theft and related crimes. Let’s take a look at what Identity Guard offers, how it works, and how it compares to competitors like LifeLock and IdentityForce.
Identity Guard’s claim to fame is that it uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence — in fact, the service is sometimes branded as “Identity Guard With Watson.” Identity Guard says that its artificial intelligence tools give it the ability to “continuously scour billions of data points to discover vulnerabilities and alert you when your identity may be at risk.” Cool!
For end users, the experience will feel similar to what competitors offer. If you sign up for Identity Guard, your identity information and your credit will be monitored. When something notable or weird comes up, you’ll get an alert. And if you really are the victim of an identity crime — something that Identity Guard says is the case one in every five times that someone is notified — then you’ll get Identity Guard’s help in putting your life back together again.
Identity Guard has a strong reputation for customer service. They have an experienced workforce, and their customer support centers are based in the United States.
The bad news is that Identity Guard’s customer service lines are only available during certain hours. They’re available fairly late in the day on weekdays, but shut down at 6pm on Saturdays and do not open at all on Sundays.
Equipment and Apps
Like many of its competitors, Identity Guard offers a mobile app that makes it easy to receive alerts and manage actions when something comes up. The app is available for iOS and Android.
However, the app’s users aren’t too impressed. IdentityGuard’s app has just 2.0 stars out of 5 in Apple’s app store, for instance, and many of the reviews complain that the app is simplistic and infrequently updated.
Features, Services, and Plans
Like other identity and information security services, Identity Guard offers its customers monitoring, alerts, and recovery services. Identity Guard monitors things like your credit score and financial transactions, and even claims to be able to spot your information for sale on the Dark Web. When something is up, Identity Guard will notify you. You can okay transactions or let Identity Guard know that they’re fraudulent, and Identity Guard will help you patch things up with banks and others, plus will cover losses from theft up to $1 million. Unlike other companies, Identity Guard offers that $1 million coverage at every price tier — though it appears to be limited to theft.
Identity Guard gives its customers a fair degree of control over what they monitor. Subscribers can set up their “Watchlist” to okay different monitoring services. Identify Guard, of course, says that the more they get to watch, “the better protected you are.” Given that you’re paying for this service to monitor your personal information, it’s probably fair to assume that you’re going to check just about every box, but it’s still nice that Identity Guard gives you options.
There are three plans available through Identity Guard: “Value,” “Total,” and “Premier.” All three are supported by the IBM Watson artificial intelligence, but other features scale up with the pricing: you’ll need to step up to Total to get a monthly credit score, address monitoring, and credit monitoring across all three major bureaus. Go all the way up to Premium, and you’ll get a full credit report and a “Social Insight report.” That last thing is an analysis of your Facebook timeline that will offer you an assessment of your “online image” and tips to improve it.
- Value ($8.99 per month): IBM Watson AI identity monitoring (including Dark Web monitoring), risk management score, $1 million in identity theft insurance
- Total ($19.99 per month): All of the above plus credit monitoring, monthly credit score
- Premier ($24.99 per month): All of the above plus a credit report, social media insights, bank account monitoring
- Value ($14.99 per month): Value plan for families, including children
- Total ($29.99 per month): Total plan for families, including children
- Premier Family ($34.99 per month): Premier plan for families, including children
You can get basic services through Identity Guard for as little as $8.99 per month — that’s the Value plan, of course. The Total plan is $19.99 per month, and the Premier plan is $24.99 per month.
Those prices compare pretty favorably to the cost of competitor services like LifeLock and IdentityForce. The Value plan includes some features that competitor companies stash in higher price tiers, and it’s particularly impressive that all three tiers include the full $1 million insurance coverage for stolen funds.
If you want protection for more than one person, you don’t necessarily have to buy multiple plans. Identity Guard also offers family plans at each tier. The Value Family plan is $14.99 per month, Total Family is $29.99 per month, and Premier Family is $34.99 per month.
Identity Guard isn’t perfect, but it does offer a solid value to customers. Its IBM Watson-powered monitoring services have fared well in reviews, and its pricing structure offers a couple of nice entry points for more budget-minded consumers who are seeking privacy and security for their identity information.