LegalShield Identity Theft Premium Review: Identity Theft Protection
|Somewhat pricey when compared to other services; complete restoration assistance; no insurance/guarantee; limited monitoring for large families and frustrating user experience|
LegalShield provides identity theft protection, including complete good name restoration by legal professionals from Kroll Advisory Solutions. The service also actively monitors the Internet for your personal information and provides triple-bureau credit report monitoring, lost wallet protection and special monitoring for children under 18. However, the cost is higher than other services, while not providing nearly as in-depth information and monitoring as the top-rated services. The website can also be tricky to navigate.
Family and Individual Pricing
The Identity Theft Premium plan protects two spouses and up to eight dependents for $29.95/month. Members are also charged a one-time membership fee of $10 when they sign up. This is a bit more expensive in comparison to other, more robust family plans, such as TrustedID ($18/month with an annual plan). LegalShield's Premium plan is available in all 50 states.
LegalShield also offers a less expensive identity theft protection plan for $14.95/month with a one-time $10 membership fee called the Identity Theft Plan. Like the Premium plan, it protects two spouses and up to eight dependents. Unlike the Identity Theft Premium plan, this one is available to all 50 states as well as parts of Canada. However, it's important to note that this plan does not compare to the Premium plan because, in addition to only offering some of the identity theft restoration features Premium members get, it only monitors and provides members access to their credit report from Experian. We found the Premium plan to be a much more valuable service.
The sign-up process is fairly simple, especially compared to the past when you had to wait several business days to activate your membership. When you choose which plan you want to purchase, LegalShield lets you add extra services, such as trial defense and legal plans. If you choose to add a legal plan, you can get a reoccurring discount on your identity theft plan ($5 off the basic Identity Theft plan and $10 off the Premium plan). During payment, you can choose between monthly or annual payments, as well as whether to pay with a credit/debit card or a bank account.
Once you are finished signing up, you can click to continue and activate your membership by completing the necessary personal information. Helpful bubbles tell you why each piece of information, such as your social security number, is needed as you complete the forms. Following confirmation of your personal information, you will have to answer some verification questions to prove your identity and then you are free to log in. At this time, you can add dependents to set up SafeGuard for minors, or you can wait for that step after logging into your account.
Navigating the website, unfortunately, can be a pain. We had some issues logging into our account after the initial signup. Visiting LegalShield's website and clicking "log in" will not work because that is for members of its legal plans. The only way we could find to log into our account was to use the link from the welcome email LegalShield sent. Additionally, we could not figure out how to add a second adult's information to the account without calling for assistance.
In order to add your spouse, he or she must create an account using the membership number you were sent in your welcome email and replace the "M" at the end of the number with an "S." This process is not detailed on the website or in any of the emails we received after signing up, which made for a good deal of frustration as we searched for a way to add the second adult before calling LegalShield.
Identity Theft Protection
LegalShield offers good identity theft protection, however it is a little lacking when compared to the other identity theft protection services we review, especially in the number of personal accounts or information it monitors. On the Dashboard page, you can view the different identity theft protection categories as well as a number of helpful links at the side. These links include identity theft education tips and information on how to opt out of junk mail marketing lists. LegalShield's identity theft protection is divided into four categories (five if you have the family plan) called Web Watcher, Public Persona, Consultation and Restoration and SafeGuard for Minors.
Web Watcher looks for the use of your personal information on thousands of websites, chat rooms, forums and networks. It monitors your social security number, up to 10 bank accounts, up to 10 debit/credit cards, up to 10 phone numbers, up to 10 email addresses, up to 10 medical identification numbers, one driver's license and one passport. The main account holder can choose to add children's email addresses, phone numbers and insurance information to this section as well. Since each adult can have their own account, it's unlikely that most families will feel limited by the amount of information they can monitor.
Public Persona protects your identity by monitoring public record databases for names, aliases and addresses that are associated with your social security number. It also monitors for changes with any of this information associated with your social security number and will alert you of any possible fraud or changes to any records, including address changes.
Consultation and Restoration allows you to get unlimited identity theft consultation with a licensed investigator from Kroll, as well as comprehensive restoration in the event you become a victim of identity theft while enrolled in LegalShield. These investigators can advise you on the best practices for keeping your personal information private, setting fraud alerts or credit freezes on your credit report, as well as assist you with any other questions or concerns you have about ways you can protect your identity. By contacting an investigator, you can also request lost wallet assistance, a social security number scan through a database of more than 34 billion public records, a sex offender search to verify a sex offender isn't using your personal information and assistance obtaining your annual credit reports.
Children are protected by LegalShield with SafeGuard for Minors, which allows you to add your child's name, birth date and social security number. This information will be monitored to detect names and addresses associated with the social security number provided. If something is found, LegalShield will notify you so you can determine if it's a problem or not. You also have the option to add your child's email address or phone number to the Web Watcher monitoring, although larger families may have difficulty considering the cap is 10 emails and 10 phone numbers per account.
Similar to our other reviewed identity theft protection services, LegalShield sends you alerts in the instance that it notices anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. The alerts can be received via email or text message. However, we couldn't find a way to change the settings for receiving alerts like with most other services.
Credit Report Monitoring Information
LegalShield actively monitors all three credit reports — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — however, it only automatically gives you online access to your TransUnion credit report and score. You get a complete breakdown of your TransUnion credit report including an explanation of why your score is what it is, a summary of your credit report — including a list of all the types of credit accounts you have — as well as other credit report information. We found this interactive tool to be very helpful, yet lacking because it only included the TransUnion credit report. You can have LegalShield help you request all three credit reports once a year, or one credit report every 120 days.
As part of the credit report monitoring, LegalShield will alert you if there is any activity on your credit report, including a new credit inquiry, new trade line, new derogatory items, new public records or a change of address. Only the two adults on the account will receive credit report monitoring.
We found LegalShield's customer service representatives to be very helpful and easy to contact. They can be reached by phone Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT. You can also contact customer service representatives via email. Unfortunately, the FAQ sections on the website are disorganized and not as informative as they could be. We had trouble finding information we were looking for and had to resort to calling or emailing in several instances. During our first phone call, we were surprised to learn that there is a LegalShield app available for download — it wasn't advertised on the website.
Identity Theft Assistance
Unlike our other reviewed identity theft protection services, LegalShield does not offer insurance, guarantee or warranty. However even without the insurance, LegalShield still offers solid identity theft assistance and restoration. If you become a victim of identity theft while you're a member of LegalShield, Kroll investigators will assist you throughout the entire restoration process. LegalShield offers Kroll's limited Power of Attorney, which you will sign and notarize, that allows them to restore your good name on your behalf. The investigators can make phone calls on your behalf, issue fraud alerts to all three credit reports and contact with your financial institutions and credit card companies.
It's important to note that in order for the investigators to act on your behalf, you'll have to sign a limited Power of Attorney, provide a police report and Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Affidavit, proof of identity and possibly other information, depending on the identity theft.
Overall LegalShield is a good option for identity theft protection, however we did find it lacking in terms of active monitoring — especially since the membership protects both spouses and up to eight minors, yet limits the number of items it can monitor. The value of this service lies in the identity theft assistance, which will assist you in the event that you're a victim of identity theft. However, the disorganization of the website can make using LegalShield a frustrating experience.
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