Identity Guard® Review 2020January 2020 Identity guard Review & Deals
Machine learning capabilities with IBM’s Watson integration
A dedicated recovery case agent
Protection against cyberbullying
Lost wallet protection
No two-factor authentication
Customer support is not available 24/7
No free trial
Once you’ve selected your plan and made the initial payment, Identity Guard will leap into action, scanning the internet for the information you’ve provided so far. At this point, you’ll be able to make your first visit to the online dashboard from which you can manage your Identity Guard account and keep track of passport numbers, credit cards, and other accounts.
By breaking the set-up process into steps, Identity Guard makes it easier for users to complete, although the 32 security questions are bound to keep you busy for some time. Nevertheless, it’s worth answering as many as you can to the best of your ability as these will form the basis of your watch list.
For some, entering such sensitive information will result in nothing short of a panic attack so, if you’re one of those people, make sure you’ve connected your VPN before you start sharing the details of your occupation, income, preferred web browser, and favorite clothing store.
The modular design of Identity Guard’s online dashboard makes it simple to use and to navigate, although it lacks the seamless integration of some other identity theft protection tools. The main screen shows notifications alerting you to any suspicious activity or threats while a link from that main dashboard will take you straight to your credit report and risk assessment score. This score is created by Identity Guard’s unique Watson artificial intelligence feature which uses your profile and answers to threat questions to substantiate its report.
By using the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the screen, users can easily check out their reports which include both the TransUnion VantageScore and a bar graph indicating why your credit score is what it is and how to improve it.
This is slightly different from the user interfaces on Identity Guard’s Android and iOS mobile apps which display both your credit scores and your alerts on the main interface. Beyond that, however, Identity Guard’s mobile apps have much the same functionality as the online dashboard as well as consistent design elements.
While this isn’t uncommon among identity theft protection tools, it’s nevertheless disappointing. Those developing software to protect against identity theft seem to believe they operate in a different world to the rest of us, so while their blogs are filled with articles advising about the importance of encryption, few seem willing to reveal the details of their encryption or precisely how they’re preventing outsiders from accessing users’ sensitive data.
When you consider the lengths VPNs and other cybersecurity tools go to, to inform their users about exactly how their encryption works and how long it would take to break, statements like those made by Identity Guard seem decidedly inadequate. Having said that, few identity protection tools offer such insights, so it appears to be the industry standard. Let’s hope Identity Guard will be one of the first to challenge those standards and give its users better insights into its security measures and encryption usage.
If Identity Guard wants to move with the times, it should make two-factor authentication its top priority in 2020 but, in the meantime, users should ensure they use a strong password to protect their account because opting for something like “password” is tantamount to handing all your financial data over to a cybercriminal and giving him or her a tip afterward.
Social Security Number Theft – Once you’ve created an account, Identity Guard will constantly comb through thousands of data sources checking to see if your Social Security number has been leaked, stolen or exposed. If your SSN is detected somewhere it ought not to be, Identity Guard will immediately notify you of the vulnerability, giving you the chance to secure your data before any further damage occurs.
ID Verification Alerts – should Identity Guard detect any changes being made to your current accounts, or notice that an application for a new credit card or cellphone contract has been made in your name, it will send you an ID Verification Alert, so you can verify whether it was you who made the application or if someone else is posing as you.
Lost Wallet Protection – Wallets may exist in the physical world rather than the virtual one, but that doesn’t stop Identity Guard from covering them. If you lost your purse or wallet, Identity Guard will help cancel your credit cards, and give provide you with $2000 emergency spending money from one of your protected accounts.
ID Vault Password Protection – With Identity Guard, you don’t need to worry about installing a password manager as it performs this function for you. All your credit card information, passwords, and usernames can be safely stowed away in the ID Vault which will encrypt that data, thereby protecting it against possible theft, while keeping it easily accessible.
Black Market Monitoring – Identity Guard ventures into the dark recesses of the internet that few others dare to go. In doing so, however, it keeps a round-the-clock eye on your personal information, ensuring that you’ll be the first to know if any sensitive data pops up on an underground forum, chat group, or dark website.
Identity Theft Recovery – Not only does Identity Guard give its users $1 million insurance to cover any losses incurred as a result of identity theft, but it will also give you professional assistance to help you deal with identity theft and recover from the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Additional areas of protection covered by Identity Guard include:
- Address monitoring
- ID Sure child identity monitoring
- Safe browsing options
- 3-bureau credit reporting
- Antivirus protection
- $1m insurance
- Risk management score
- Mobile apps
- Online dashboard
They will all also alert you to:
- High-risk transactions
- Personal information available on the Dark Web
- 3-bureau credit report
- Back account takeovers
Even basic plan subscribers enjoy the additional benefits of anti-phishing features on the mobile app, and safe browsing on every device, from Android to Windows.
What sets Identity Guard apart from the competition, however, is its use of IBM Watson artificial intelligence and its partnership with a leading tax preparation company.
IBM Watson AI is designed to provide the highest level of AI to solve problems and predict potential issues based on past behavior. By integrating IBM Watson AI into its identity theft protection software, Identity Guard’s parent company, Intersections, has created a tool that can look at a billion pieces of data in minutes. As an identity protection monitoring app, that means it can find information in the darkest corners of cyberspace and identify risk factors that could make you vulnerable in the future.
IBM Watson technologies come into their own when it comes to protecting children online. Watson AI uses both natural language classifiers and processing methods to “understand and categorize what individuals are sending and receiving. Complex algorithms then identify instances, or potential instances, of cyberbullying or self-harm. If a threat is identified, it triggers an alert that is sent parents”.
Identity Guard also uses Watson AI technology to detect any online occurrence that could implicate you, either through your name, Social Security number, or credit information. It can perform these tasks so quickly that it should detect the possibility of a threat long before it has any financial impact on the user.
Instead of assuming identity theft protection software comes in a one-size-fits-all package, Identity Guard is adapting its technology to reflect the unique risks each of us faces based on our online habits.
Identity Guard is unique among identity protection services in that it works closely with one of the best tax-preparation companies in the US to provide users with an early-warning tax return notification system/. Should someone file a tax return in your name, Identity Guard will be able to alert you to the cybercrime immediately, preventing further complications and expenses.
Despite these impressive features, there are nonetheless one or two more basic ones that Identity Guard doesn’t have, including notifying users when a known sex offender moves into their neighborhood and alerting credit bureaus when fraud occurs. Recently, however, Identity Guard did introduce address monitoring which is a common feature of the best identity protection tools, but one which Identity Guard was previously lacking.
Overall, Identity Guard’s features make for a comprehensive identity theft protection service that goes the extra mile in terms of dark web monitoring and has taken the innovative step of using AI to improve risk prediction.
|Individual Plan (Monthly Price)||$7.50/mo||$19.99/mo||$24.99/mo|
|Family Plan (Monthly Price)||$14.99/mo||$29.99/mo||$34.99/mo|
|Individual Plan (Annual Price)||$8.99/mo||$16.67/mo||$20.83/mo|
|Family Plan (Annual Price)||$12.50/mo||$25/mo||$29.17/mo|
Identity Guard prices are among the most competitive, with is entry-level Value plan costing just $7.50 per month on an annual subscription. With most identity protection software costing a minimum of $9.99 a month, this makes it an inexpensive option for those requiring basic-level protection. The Value plan includes Watson AI functionality, high-risk transaction alerts, and a dedicated case manager to assist in the recovery process.
The mid-range package, called Identity Guard total, starts at $16.67 per month for individuals and $25 per month for families which, again, makes it good value for money. This plan includes address monitoring, which the basic plan doesn’t, as well as tax refund alerts and monthly credit reports.
On the downside, Identity Guard Total won’t give you a 3-bureau credit report or a social insight report. For a fully comprehensive identity protection service, users should opt for Identity Guard’s Premier package which includes both those reports in addition to an annual credit score and report.
Family plans include additional child monitoring services designed to protect your children against identity theft and are slightly more expensive as a result but it’s still a small price to pay if it means keeping your children safe. What’s more, Identity Guard’s family plans are still a lot cheaper than most of the competition, with some charging upwards of $19.99 for basic protection, compared to Identity Guard’s more affordable $12.50 per month for its basic family plan.
While Identity Guard is competitive in its pricing tiers, it loses a few points by failing to provide either a free trial or a money-back guarantee period. Most identity theft protection services offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee, with some being generous enough to give users a 30-day free trial.
As it stands, Identity Guard falls firmly in the middle somewhere. While it doesn’t have much in the way of online support, and seems to rely rather too heavily on its telephone support system, it nevertheless has an email support option available for those who need it.
One of the problems with relying on telephonic support systems is that users in other countries will struggle to make a call within the applicable office hours, which is why online chat services are so appealing.
Quite why Identity Guard has decided to implement geographical restrictions on its support pages is something of a mystery and means that international users may need a VPN simply to access all the online facilities.
Despite these little hitches, Identity Guard’s customer support is not bad and account holders can also access a technical support section that provides trouble-shooting advice, step-by-step installation advice and additional information about how to safeguard your identity. Furthermore, the responses from its email support system typically take just a few hours, which is much faster than many of its rivals.