Full Review

[Editor’s Note: Identity Guard is offering NextAdvisor.com visitors a special deal on all plans, including 20% off the monthly fee and a free 30-day trial***. There is no coupon code required to take advantage of this offer but you must click on a link from our site. So simply click on any Identity Guard link on NextAdvisor.com to take advantage of this discounted price.]

Identity Guard has partnered with IBM® Watson to help secure your personal information. Identity Guard offers an array of helpful tools and features to give you a better understanding of your identity and what aspects of your life (e.g., social media, the dark web, etc.) may be putting your identity at risk. The price tag is a bit higher than some of its competitors, but we think it’s worth paying when you consider all of the added benefits and protections you’ll receive with IBM® Watson Artificial Intelligence.

Pricing

Identity Guard offers three plans to choose from. Before we dig into the prices and features, we should note that if you fall victim to identity theft as an Identity Guard member (regardless of the plan you select), you’ll be protected with $1 million insurance. along with stolen funds reimbursement to help recover financial losses that occur as a result of the theft. You’d also receive assistance from a U.S.-based case manager who will personally monitor your case for 60 days after the problem has been resolved.

Value

The most affordable plan, called the Value plan, is just $7.20/month and comes with IBM® Watson Artificial Intelligence complete with potential threat detections; a risk management score that helps you determine how you manage your risk of identity fraud; dark web monitoring; high-risk transaction alerts warning you of utility service applications, wire transfers and more; an anti-phishing mobile app and a safe browsing extension.

Total

The Total plan costs $15.99/month. It includes all of the protection offered by the Value plan and bumps things up a bit with a monthly Vantage 3.0 credit score based on TransUnion data; notifications of 3-bureau credit changes that provide you with near real-time alerts of new credit inquiries, public record changes and more; bank account alert takeover warnings and requests to open checking or savings accounts with your information.

Premier

Premier is the most expensive plan, at $19.99/month. It offers a combination of the Value and Total protections and features, but it also provides members with an annual 3-bureau credit report with information from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, and a social insight report. While receiving a copy of your 3-bureau credit reports is important, we don’t think that feature of this plan is worthwhile, as you can get a copy of all 3 credit reports for free through AnnualCreditReport.com. The aspect of the Premier plan we do see value in is the social insight report, as it gives you a total view into your social media usage, including the types of words you use the most often, top topics you’ve engaged with and more — we found this feature to be especially helpful for families.

Speaking of families, Identity Guard also offers the Value, Total and Premier plans for families — these plans cover all adults and children residing within one household. The plans offer the same protection as detailed above at the following prices: $11.99/month for Value, $23.99/month for Total and $27.99/month for Premier.

Signup

The signup process for Identity Guard is pretty painless. You first select the plan that’s best for you, then create an account using your email and any password you’d like. After that, you’ll provide some personal information, like your name, address, birth date and social security number, which will help Identity Guard to confirm your identity and pull your credit information (if you choose the Total or Premier plans), then you’re all set. Those who have the Total plan will be able to see their credit score immediately after signup, while Premier users can not only see their credit score, but also generate a 3-bureau credit report right after completing signup.

Identity Theft Protection

The identity theft protection features is what sets Identity Guard apart from the competition. Even if you opt for the most affordable plan (Value), you’re still getting a ton of protection for your buck.

Dark Web Monitoring

Kicking things off is dark web monitoring, which is a must in the era of data breaches. That’s because when a major breach or hack occurs, one of the first places criminals place financial, personal and any other stolen information is the black market (or dark web), where identity thieves purchase the information and use it to steal people’s identities.

Potential Threat Warnings 

Identity Guard also provides all members with proactive alerts about potential threats that may be relevant to them or their family. These threats, like data breaches, phishing scams and malware vulnerabilities, are detected by IBM® Watson Artificial Intelligence and sent to you via email and Identity Guard®’s site or mobile app. We found these alerts to be invaluable, as we were able to learn about data breaches before we heard about them in the news. We especially liked how Identity Guard allowed us to mark alerts as relevant or irrelevant to us — this helps Watson determine what may or may not impact us in the future.

High-Risk Transaction Alerts

When your personal information is leaked, identity thieves will attempt to complete a number of things, including but not limited to taking over your bank accounts, completing wire transfers and applying for payday loans, utility service accounts or cell phone services. That’s why Identity Guard alerts all plan members of such high-risk transactions that appear in their name.

3-Bureau Credit Changes

Those who opt for the Total or Premier plans will also receive 3-bureau credit changes, which means they’ll receive notifications of certain changes to their credit reports, like new credit inquiries, public records information and more. This is an essential tool for helping to protect your identity because oftentimes identity thieves will try to open new credit accounts in your name to take advantage of and ruin your credit.

Bank Account Alerts 

Premier plan members also receive a couple types of bank account alerts. First, they will get alerts when change to their name, address or email address are made or a new account holder is added to their bank accounts. Additionally, you’ll be alerted when Identity Guard detects that your information has been used in a request to open new bank accounts at national banks, regional banks, local banks and credit unions across the United States. We found both of these features to be very helpful, as bank accounts are another target of identity thieves that consumers should be aware of.

Social Insights Report

If you use Facebook or follow the news, you’ve likely seen warnings of thieves or scammers creating new Facebook accounts using your name, photo and personal information. This is a very real threat, which is why Identity Guard aims to provide Premier plan members with an insight report of their social media habits. Here’s how it works: you connect your Facebook account to your Identity Guard account and let Watson do all the work. You’ll be given a complete analysis of the types of words you use the most often, top topics you’ve engaged with, how much of your information is being shared publicly and more. We found this feature to be especially helpful for the families, as it can give parents a great insight of their children’s Facebook activity.

Anti-Phishing Mobile App

Our lives are on mobile phones these days, and identity thieves know that. To help protect your data, passwords and everything else stored on your mobile phone from phishing scams, Identity Guard has an anti-phishing mobile app for Android and Apple phones. It will block detected phishing sites when you open email links or use a compatible web browser. The app also comes with a phishing news feed to alert you of the most recent phishing scams.

Safe Browsing Extension

Last but not least, Identity Guard offers a safe browsing add-on for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox web browsers that not only blocks various malware delivery channels including phishing, malvertisements and Adobe Flash, but also restricts content and tracking cookies that are trying to gather your personal information.

Credit Report Monitoring Information

Identity Guard’s credit report features are somewhat lacking. We love the fact that Total and Premier member get near real-time 3-bureau credit alerts to bring their attention to certain changes or updates (including credit inquiries) made to their credit reports, but we found the overall credit score and report features to fall flat.

The Identity Guard credit score is based on data from TransUnion and is not provided directly by the bureau. Although being able to track one credit score monthly is better than doing nothing, it’s not giving you the most complete insight on your credit health. That’s because creditors, like your credit card issuer and mortgage lender, usually don’t report your credit activity and history to all three bureaus, which means your TransUnion report and score could look completely different than your Experian and Equifax reports and scores. Still, one credit score is better than none. On a similar note, we also aren’t super pleased with the annual 3-bureau credit report Identity Guard offers to Premier members. While any access to a credit report is good and the credit report Identity Guard® provides is definitely in-depth and easy to read, the annual update is less-than-ideal, especially when previous Identity Guard® protection plans offered credit reports quarterly. As such, we aren’t super impressed with the fact that Identity Guard only offers a credit report that’s updated annually, especially since consumers can get a copy of all three credit reports for free once per year via AnnualCreditReport.com. That said, Identity Guard does thoroughly track changes and new accounts on its members’ credit reports (detailed in the Identity Theft Protection section above), which makes up for the service’s lack of credit education tools.

Identity Theft Assistance

Considering how extensive the identity theft protection is, you hopefully don’t need to worry about identity theft assistance, but if worst-case scenario happens and you fall victim to identity theft, Identity Guard has your back. That’s because all Identity Guard members are protected with $1 million insurance and stolen funds reimbursement — both help to cover financial losses due to identity theft. On top of that, you’ll be assigned a U.S.-based case manager who will help help you resolve any issues that arise from the identity theft. They will also personally monitor your case for 60 days after the problem has been resolved, a nice benefit considering unexpected issues could arise at any time.

Customer Service

Identity Guard’s customer service is helpful and easy to contact. They can be reached via phone and email. We reached out to customer service using both forms of communication and was able to get the assistance we needed. That said, if you need an immediate response, we recommend calling customer service because you may not get an immediate response via email — Identity Guard®’s website says you can expect a response within 24 to 28 hours.

Conclusion

Overall, Identity Guard is a comprehensive identity theft protection service. Its somewhat higher price tag and credit monitoring features are not perfect, but the service more than makes up for it with its extensive identity monitoring features and tools. Add to that the assistance you’ll receive if you fall victim to identity theft as an Identity Guard member, and you really can’t go wrong with any Identity Guard plan.

* 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 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.

***Your card will be charged either a monthly or annual fee, depending on the membership plan you choose. You may cancel your membership anytime simply by contacting Identity Guard.

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