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You're wise to ask that question, given that an average year sees as many as 14 million consumers reporting that they've been victimized by identity thieves - with losses reaching nearly $17 billion.
Those numbers may obscure the devastation experienced by an individual when their credit history is ravaged by fraudulent transactions. Scammers can use Social Security numbers, birthdates and other personal information to open bank accounts and credit cards, access medical care, and even claim tax refunds that don't belong to them - taking what was once an excellent credit score and dragging it down. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting victim may not realize their identity has been stolen until they try to apply for a loan or start getting calls from collection agencies, and by then the damage has already been done.
Tuesday, September 28th
Identity Guard offers a powerful combination of experience and cutting-edge technology to protect your identity from thieves and to quickly restore it if fraud occurs. Identity Guard's parent company has protected more than 47 million identities over the last two decades, and their partnership with the artificial intelligence of IBM Watson ensures that threats are detected quickly and prevented proactively. Over 140,000 cases of identity fraud have been resolved with Identity Guard's help.
$1 Million Insurance
All plans come with $1 million in insurance if identity restoration services are required, including stolen funds reimbursement. You'll have access to an online identity dashboard and a mobile app (though we found several customers who said that the app can be glitchy). And, if you need help from a case manager, rest assured that you'll have US-based representatives handling your case.
3 Levels Of Service
Beyond those features, there are three levels of service with Identity Guard, all of which are available to either individuals or families. These tiers include the following:
Save With An Annual Plan
For all of these plans, you can save anywhere from 26% to 33% if you pay annually instead of monthly. However, be aware that if you decide to cancel an annual plan, you won't receive a prorated refund for any unused time on the subscription.
Block Junk Mail
When we visited the Identity Guard site recently, we got a pop-up offer that included PrivacyMate at no extra cost when subscribing to a qualified annual identity protection plan. Valued at $99/year, this service blocks junk mail and robocalls.
Trustworthy Source Of Identity Protection
Identity Guard is a brand of Intersections, Inc., which provides identity theft services under a variety of names. Across the spectrum, the company enjoys an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, establishing itself as a trustworthy source of identity protection. On average, Identity Guard earns a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, with the highest praise given to their customer service representatives for handling issues professionally and quickly. We were pleased to see compliments from subscribers who have used Identity Guard for several years, and from people who switched from other providers in our review and got better service here - for less money.
If you're concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft - and honestly, you should be - Identity Guard can give you affordable peace of mind. From preventative measures to lightning-quick response times when fraud is detected, this service has you covered, and you're not locked into more coverage than you need. Identity Guard earns our highest rating.
Zander Insurance has been around a long time - almost 100 years, to be exact. Endorsed by financial guru Dave Ramsey and both "A+" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, this company is reassuringly simple and steady.
Easy To Choose Your Plan
You won't have to spend hours trying to figure out which plan to choose here. Are you trying to cover an individual or a family? That was easy! Individual coverage is $6.75 per month or $75 per year, and family plans are $12.90/month or $145/year. Those family plans include the primary policyholder plus any other adult in the household: spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, adult child, or any other person 18 and up who lives there - and up to 10 children under the age of 18. Each covered individual can track their Social Security number, driver's license, up to 6 credit/debit cards, and up to 5 medical IDs, phone numbers, emails, and bank account numbers.
4 Categories Of Coverage
Your coverage here falls into four categories: Monitoring Services, Identity Theft Restoration Benefits, Identity Theft Stolen Funds and Expense Reimbursement Benefits, and Unauthorized Electronic Fund Transfer/Cash Recover Reimbursement. Let's take a look at what each of those entails:
If you are even a little familiar with identity theft services, you might have noticed a few things missing from what Zander Insurance offers. But, just in case you missed it, here are some features you don't get:
With so many areas that Zander Insurance's identity theft service doesn't cover, are you wondering why it's so high on our list? Here's why: if you look at this as insurance that covers you generously if you become a victim, you won't find a more affordable plan anywhere. And, since no identity theft protection plan can guarantee you'll never have your information stolen, what most consumers need is the best help after the fact if it does happen.
Already Available To You
And, if you pay attention, many of the non-included features are probably available to you already, at no charge. Take a look at your credit card dashboard or your bank account the next time you log in, and you'll likely spot a frequently-updated credit score. Guess what: those usually come directly from the credit bureaus! You can get your credit reports there at no charge once a year upon request. Plus, if you're on top of your bank accounts and credit cards, you should spot unusual activity fairly soon - all on your own. Finally, most credit card issuers are very proactive when it comes to suspected fraud; you may already have gotten a text or email within moments of a flagged transaction, where you had to let the company know if you were the one attempting the charge. In the end, you may not even miss all of those features, especially if you're already doing a solid job of tracking your finances.
One Of The Best
Does Zander Insurance provide the most comprehensive identity theft protection on the market today? Definitely not. But, this company does offer extremely affordable identity theft "insurance", so to speak, that will help you recover if your identity is stolen. For more proactive consumers, and especially for those with larger households, Zander Insurance should be one of the first providers of identity theft services to consider.
ID Shield is operated by Legal Shield, a legal services company that has been in business for nearly five decades. They have accreditation and a perfect "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, which is good reassurance that you'll get what you pay for from this trustworthy provider of identity theft protection services.
2 Questions To Answer
To determine which ID Shield plan is right for you, there are only two questions to answer: are you protecting an individual or a family, and do you want monitoring/reporting from one credit bureau or all three? We appreciated their detailed explanation of the difference between 1-bureau and 3-bureau monitoring: all three credit reports eventually reflect changes and problems, so 1-bureau monitoring is the most economical, while 3-bureau monitoring will catch fraud more quickly.
Dark Web Surveillance
Literally everything else about ID Shield's coverage is the same between the two plans. Some of the features included are Dark Web surveillance, monitoring of bank accounts and payday loans, Social Security number tracking, unlimited identity restoration services, 12-month credit score tracking history, and 24/7 access to customer support.
Your Family Is Included
If you need a family plan, ID Shield doesn't skimp on your coverage like some of their rivals do. You, your spouse or domestic partner, and up to 10 dependent children are all included in your identity protection plan.
30 Day Free Trial
Individual plans are priced at $13.95 and $17.95 per month (1- vs. 3-bureau coverage), while family plans cost $26.95 and $32.95 per month. That's their everyday pricing - unlike many identity theft services that draw you in with a low introductory cost and then immediately raise your rates to their regular fees after the first month. Straightforward pricing can be hard to come by in this industry, and we're glad to see ID Shield deliver. Additionally, you can take advantage of a 30-day free trial with any ID Shield package.
Many Positive Customer Reviews
While this identity theft prevention and protection service doesn't have thousands of reviews, we were happy to see that 92% of customers gave ID Shield a perfect 5-star rating. Members describe getting alerts extremely quickly after attempted fraud was detected - and even when it was a legitimate transaction that might have been unauthorized. The company gets plenty of compliments for friendly, helpful representatives who are always on hand to answer questions, resolve alerts, and jump into action to mitigate the impact of identity thieves' activities.
Make It Simple
It shouldn't be complicated to protect yourself (and your family) from identity fraud. ID Shield makes it simple - and affordable - with thorough coverage, easy-to-understand differences between their levels of service, and reliable representatives at the ready. This is a great option for identity theft prevention and restoration.
Identity Force is a Sontiq brand, having been acquired by EZ Shield in 2019 and continuing a tradition of many decades in pursuit of excellence within the identity theft protection industry. The company has a 100% recovery success rate during stolen identity-related events and has earned several Stevie Awards for their products and customer service.
2 Plans To Choose From
There are two main plans to choose from here: UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit. Both plans include all of the features described above under Monitor, Alert, Control and Recover, but the higher-tier plan adds three-bureau credit monitoring, scores and reports as well as a credit score simulator. You'll pay $17.95/month for UltraSecure and $23.95/month for UltraSecure+credit; either plan gives you 2 free months when you pay annually instead of monthly. Only UltraSecure comes with a 14-day free trial.
4 Pronged Approach
Identity Force uses a four-pronged approach to identity theft protection services: Monitor, Alert, Control and Recover. Take a look at what each category entails:
Lack Of Family Plan Information
Identity Force doesn't make it easy to get information about their family plans. Most of their competitors include those details on their main pages, but this company requires you to call in for a quote. We'd definitely like to see that included on their site, to be as transparent (and as welcoming to prospective family plan subscribers) as their rivals.
This company has a great reputation with the Better Business Bureau, where they have an "A+" rating and accreditation. There were only two complaints filed with the BBB in the three years leading up to this review, which is another strong indicator of a healthy identity theft protection service - especially for a company that has been in business for over 40 years.
Mostly Positive Reviews
We were confused by Identity Force's customer feedback elsewhere, however. Despite having an average rating of 4.3 stars out of over 700 reviews, they seemed to only have 52% of subscribers giving them a 4- or 5-star rating. Given that we found very few complaints and mostly compliments in reviews from the last year - about the affordability of the plans, responsiveness of customer representatives, and thorough coverage - we concluded that the negative ratings may have been from several years prior to our evaluation.
We give Identity Force high marks for having plans that are easy to understand, including one with a 2-week free trial, and for a solid track record of attentive customer service. We'd like to see their site include upfront information for families seeking identity theft protection, rather than making them jump through the extra hoop of making a phone call. In all other aspects, however, Identity Force earns a good rating for providing identity theft prevention and protection you can trust.
IDSeal is new to the identity theft protection industry, having gotten its start in 2018. At the time of this review, the company had still managed to earn an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau, which is a good sign that they deliver on what they promise (at least so far).
One Of The Most Expensive
IDSeal is one of the most expensive services in our review. Most providers have several tiers of coverage to choose from, but this company only gives you options between an individual plan or one that includes up to 10 children, and among paying monthly, quarterly or annually. Plus, that "family" plan only covers one adult; if you want to include both parents, you'll have to tack on another individual plan that will bring the total monthly cost over $60.
Comprehensive Identity Theft Protection Plans
On a more positive note, the identity theft protection and restoration features included in IDSeal's plans are comprehensive:
Free device and identity protection
In addition to identity theft, IDSeal provides an impressive number of features to protect your devices and digital privacy. These include:
Sparse Customer Feedback
Because this service is so new, it's difficult to say what customers think. There are a handful of testimonials on the IDSeal site, but we couldn't find much beyond that. How well does the company do when people have a serious information breach or massive losses due to identity theft? It's too early to tell.
Time Will Tell
If this protection plan were much less expensive, it might be worth taking a chance and purchasing a subscription. We're encouraged by IDSeal's positive rating and accreditation from the BBB, and we expect to see continued good feedback about their services in the future. For now, though, we feel more confident in the established identity theft plans offered by our higher-ranked providers.
LifeLock is one of the most well-known identity theft protection services on the market, and their relatively recent partnership with Norton has expanded their coverage to include more dimensions of your life online, as well as the basics like financial account monitoring and restoring your identity if theft occurs.
Confusing Plans And Pricing
LifeLock can feel somewhat overwhelming when trying to sift through their plans and pricing. For example, on the main Plans tab, it shows Standard, Advantage and Plus - while the pricing page showed Select, Advantage and Plus. We quickly felt bogged down trying to determine which package offered the coverage we needed.
Essential Basic Coverages
All plans include some of the same essential coverage, such as US-based identity restoration specialists, round-the-clock member support, lost wallet protection, reduction of pre-approved credit card offers, and LifeLock's identity alert system (including notifications when your personal info is detected on service/credit applications, on the Dark Web, on USPS address change notifications, and so forth).
4 Protection Plans
Beyond those basic services, here's what you can expect among their tiers of coverage:
Identity Theft For Children
Although you won't see them featured on LifeLock's main pricing page, identity theft packages for children are also available. A Junior membership costs $5.99/month or $65.99 annually, and it can only be used in conjunction with an adult membership. It includes the standard Identity Alert System, Dark Web Monitoring, Lost Wallet Protection, Credit File Detection, and Identity Restoration Support you get with most LifeLock coverage.
Hundreds Of Customer Complaints
Unfortunately, LifeLock has dropped precipitously in our rankings. One big reason for this is the fact that the Better Business Bureau now gives them an "F" rating. In an industry as sensitive as identity protection, that's just not acceptable. There were hundreds of complaints filed by customers who said that LifeLock made it nearly impossible to cancel subscriptions, that they were charged for services they never wanted, and that even when refunds were authorized it was like pulling teeth to actually get the money back. When your identity theft protection service makes you feel like you've been scammed, it's not a good experience.
Better Choices Elsewhere
While there are thousands of positive customer reviews on the LifeLock site, we're far too discouraged by their negative reputation with so many subscribers. This company is no longer the only name in the industry, and we strongly recommend you choose an identity theft protection program that offers world-class customer service in addition to their coverage. You'll find plenty to consider among the higher-ranked identity theft prevention specialists in our review.
To be a trustworthy identity theft protection service, a company should make it amply clear who they are, how to contact them, and how they operate. Identity Defense does almost none of that.
First Impressions Are Important
Starting with some odd typos and grammatical quirks (like spelling "herein" incorrectly at the bottom of the page, or spaces missing between key words in a header), this service gets off on the wrong foot. We couldn't find anywhere on the site that would allow us to reach out and ask questions - so we had to laugh when it said at the bottom that memberships can be canceled at any time by contacting them. Keep that in mind when deciding between a monthly or an annual plan, especially considering that their refund policy says that you are not entitled to any kind of credit or refund if you cancel early.
Another Red Flag
We can only assume that Identity Defense is not Intersection's main priority. There's a lot of wording on the site about using this service as part of an employer plan, which means that perhaps the majority of their users aren't using the site to subscribe. Intersections also owns one of the highest-rated identity theft prevention services in our evaluation, and it could be that they're not really maintaining this site.
Earns A Low Rating
For all of these reasons, Identity Defense is our lowest-ranked provider of identity protection. Their site doesn't pay much attention to detail, and that leaves us wondering how well they actually provide the services they want you to pay for. Go with an identity theft prevention company that takes the time to earn your business; you'll be more satisfied with the process of signing up and the coverage they offer.
Even children can be prime targets for identity thieves. Because most people don't open credit cards or borrow money until adulthood, their information can be used for many years: imagine starting out as an 18-year-old with a horrible credit history that you did nothing to deserve! By that time, criminals may have already taken lavish vacations, gotten expensive cosmetic surgery, or bought luxury furniture - all using the identity of a child.
Experts recommend that consumers be constantly vigilant to protect their personal information. Basic steps like shredding documents with sensitive data and not disclosing too many details on social media can help prevent identity theft. However, scammers abound and are determined to find ways to access what they need. That's why identity theft protection services are a smart idea: while no service can offer a 100% guarantee that you'll never be a victim, their plans can often nip unauthorized access in the bud before things get out of hand. And, most of them not only help you clear your name and restore your credit history if identity theft occurs, but they also insure any financial losses up to a million dollars or more.
With many identity theft protection services to choose from, how can you tell which one is right for you? Here are several criteria to keep in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best providers of identity theft protection available today. We hope this information helps you choose the service that offers the most peace of mind at the best price.
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