Frequency of credit reports: Quarterly
Frequency of credit scores: Quarterly
Credit-improvement simulator: Yes
Address-change monitoring: Yes
Data breach alerts: Yes
Investment account monitoring: Yes
Medical records monitoring: Yes
Payday loan monitoring: Yes
Sex offender alert: Yes
Security software: VPN; mobile-app protections; anti-keylogger, browser extensions for Windows, VPN
Title-change alerts: Yes
Two-factor authentication: Yes
One of the most thorough, yet least expensive, identity-theft-protection services around, Identity Force UltraSecure+Credit is also one of the few that protects your account with two-factor authentication.
It can not only keep an eye on your assets and protect your identity but provides credit scores and credit reports from all three credit bureaus, as well as $1 million in identity insurance. For those concerned about both identity theft and credit monitoring, IdentityForce can be a lifesaver.
In addition to comprehensive identity-protection and credit-monitoring features, helpful online articles and what-if credit and loan simulators, it also offers protection against malware and phishing, lets you start a credit freeze directly from its interface and provides $1 million in identity-theft insurance coverage.
While IdentityForce limits your access to full credit reports to once a quarter, the service will deliver any credit report on demand for a reasonable price. (In December 2021, IdentityForce and its parent company were acquired by TransUnion, one of the Big Three credit-reporting agencies. We'll keep on eye on whether IdentityForce's service plans change.)
It may not be perfect, but IdentityForce remains our choice as the best identity theft protection service. We'd ideally like to see more frequent full credit reports from IdentityForce, but its high-end services largely match LifeLock's more expensive plans feature-for-feature.
For the moment, IdentityForce is offering Tom's Guide readers a discount on its plans.
Read on for the rest of our IdentityForce review.
IdentityForce: Costs and what's covered
While other identity-theft-protection brands slice and dice the market with several plans each, IdentityForce has just two options.
The IdentityForce UltraSecure plan has a 30-day trial membership and costs $18 per month (or $180 per year) after that. It combines monitoring for online criminal activity with scans of public records and your financial accounts.
UltraSecure doesn't provide credit monitoring, but it has a nice set of security-minded utilities as well as $1 million in insurance for lost funds, and it will help you get your identity back if it is stolen.
If you want to see your credit reports from the big three bureaus, the IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit plan adds credit monitoring and costs $24 a month ($240 a year).
The credit reports are delivered quarterly, but subscribers can get additional reports instantly from any single credit bureau for $10, or from all three for $15. It also analyzes your credit scores over time and has a credit-freeze button to initiate a lockdown of your files with all three bureaus.
For those with children at home or in college, IdentityForce's Family option offers the UltraSecure and UltraSecure+Credit plans for two adults and an unlimited number of children, up to age 26, using the service's ChildWatch service.
The plans cost $25 or $36 per month, respectively. Alternatively, families can add kids individually to existing subscriptions for $2.75 per month.
You'll have to call IdentityForce to sign up for the Family plans, but the company plans to add website registration for them later in 2021.
IdentityForce is still one of the few major identity-theft protection services that uses two-factor authentication (2FA) to verify your identity with more than just a password when logging in.
The nonprofit Better Business Bureau gave IdentityForce an A+ grade, although there were several complaints about billing following cancellation and problems with customer service.
IdentityForce currently has a 3.9 out of 5 rating on the ConsumerAffairs website, down slightly from last year's 3.75/5. ConsumerAffairs.org has a business relationship with IdentityForce and several other identity-theft protection services.
On another customer-reviews website, TrustPilot, IdentityForce has a score of 4.5/5. Any company can be reviewed on TrustPilot and respond to reviews, but IdentityForce pays TrustPilot for analytics and other enhanced features, as do a few other identity-theft protection services.
|IdentityForce UltraSecure||IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit|
|Family plan||$25/month, 2 adults & unlimited kids; per-kid rate also available||$36, 2 adults & unlimited kids; per-kid rate also available|
|No. of bureaus' reports||None||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|No. of bureaus monitored||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Frequency of credit reports & scores||None||Quarterly|
|Type of credit score||None||VantageScore 3.0|
|Credit-improvement simulator or advice||None||Yes|
|Security software||Anti-keylogger, browser extensions for Windows||Anti-keylogger, browser extensions for Windows, VPN, mobile-app protections|
|Investment account monitoring||No||Yes|
|Max. ID-theft coverage||$1 million||$1 million|
IdentityForce: How we tested
In the late summer of 2020, I subscribed to five of the biggest identity-theft-protection services, including IdentityForce's UltraSecure+Credit service plan. All subscriptions were paid for by me and then later reimbursed by Tom's Guide.
I used the browser-based interface on my Lenovo ThinkPad T470 and the mobile app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 every day over the course of three months. In addition to checking on IdentityForce alerts, notifications and changes to my credit and identity, I looked at my credit scores.
I used IdentityForce's credit simulators and utilities and checked in with the company's support staff and recorded how long it took them to respond and the resolution. At the end, I canceled IdentityForce and recorded how long it took to get a confirmation.
IdentityForce: Credit scores, reports and monitoring
The centerpieces of the IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit service are the quarterly credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the major U.S. credit bureaus. (All three bureaus also operate in the U.K., but Experian has left Canada and TransUnion is not in Australia.)
Some identity-theft-protection services, such as IdentityIQ and MyFICO, offer credit reports monthly, while LifeLock and Identity Guard provide them annually. You can also get one free credit report per year from each bureau at AnnualCreditReport.com, and through April 2021, you can get one from each bureau every week for free.
Getting a credit report once every three months may be enough for most people. The service continually monitors your credit files with all three bureaus and will notify you of any suspicious or alarming additions or changes.
IdentityForce also offers quarterly VantageScore 3.0 credit-score updates based on your files with all three bureaus. These credit scores are not exactly the same as the FICO credit scores that lenders use to determine whether you're worth the risk. Another credit-monitoring service, MyFICO, does have FICO credit scores at its disposal.
IdentityForce's Score Tracker graphs your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores on its main Dashboard page, so I was able to see if my credit scores increased or decreased over time.
There's also an excellent credit simulator to help you decide when and whether to pay off credit cards, raise your credit limits or get new cards. When I used it, it showed me if my machinations helped or hindered my credit scores.
IdentityForce kept an eye on my credit-card, investment and bank accounts for indications of overuse or unauthorized activity. The service also monitors online payment services such as PayPal as well as payday loans and court records for early indications of fraud.
IdentityForce is one of only a few identity-theft protection services that lets you initiate a credit freeze with one or more credit bureaus to greatly reduce the likelihood of financial identity theft. After the freeze is completed, you'll get a PIN to use if and when you want to "unfreeze" your credit.
IdentityForce will soon include a Breach Clarity risk-intelligence score for each customer. This rating is a personalized composite score of a person's likely risk of identity theft from past and present data breaches. The service will be available in late 2021.
IdentityForce: Insurance and services
Like most of its competitors, IdentityForce provides up to $1 million of identity-theft insurance to help you restore your identity and recover lost funds.
The policy is underwritten by American International Group and covers not only the cost of replacing government documents, such as a driver's license or a passport, but will also pay you up to $2,000 per week for up to five weeks if you lose wages by spending time meeting with lawyers or in court. The plan also will reimburse you for up to $2,000 in travel expenses.
The IdentityForce interface lets you input your credit and debit-card numbers, which can help speed card cancellations along if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. IdentityForce won't provide a cash advance to help get you home if you lose your wallet while you're traveling, however.
IdentityForce: Notifications and alerts
The alerts that IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit provide are many and varied and strike a nice balance between too much and too little information. They can be sent to you via email, text or mobile app.
Alerts are triggered if your personal information, such as a Social Security number or an address, show up in court records, bankruptcy proceedings and property-title changes.
The alerts can be limited in frequency if you set new thresholds for spending or account withdrawals. Below a certain amount, IdentityForce will leave you alone.
The service will also let you know if someone tries to open a bank account or take out a loan using your personal information. Other alerts can stem from sex offenders moving into your area, payday loans in your name, medical-record changes and queries by people-search firms.
Over the three-month test period, I received eight alerts from IdentityForce, including one for a sex offender nearby and four for my mortgage application.
IdentityForce burrows into the "dark web" to find any indications that your personal information might be available for sale. The company also makes it easy to opt out of junk-mail lists.
IdentityForce makes an extra effort to be transparent with its Privacy and Trust Center. It encrypts all of your data, both in transmission and in storage, using the AES-256 protocol. If you cancel your IdentityForce subscription, the company says it will wipe all your data after 30 days.
Getting started with IdentityForce was quick and easy. I began at the company's website, where I chose the UltraSecure+Credit plan. I typed in my name, email address and date of birth, followed by my payment information. The website showed me a summary page with a confirmation number.
I then provided a long list of personal information the service wanted for the account, including my Social Security, driver's-license, passport and medical-insurance numbers. I created a password for the account and set up a verification question and answer. I also set up two-factor authentication and tested it with a verification code.
Finally, I checked off on the agreement box to start using the account. Start to finish, the entire process took all of nine minutes.
IdentityForce has customer-support representatives available on the phone 24/7. Support reps can help investigate and start the identity-restoration process. The company website has lots of items to help educate customers, including a rundown of current popular scams, FAQs and a primer on identity theft.
IdentityForce's two-factor authentication stopped working for me at one point. I called customer support and after a few minutes of troubleshooting, we realized that the problem was with my phone carrier. The problem fixed itself after about 10 minutes.
IdentityForce: Interface and utilities
With a desktop browser interface as well as apps for Android and iOS, IdentityForce can securely deliver data about your creditworthiness and any alerts.
Users of IdentityForce's browser interface can get a quick status update by going to the Dashboard, but my advice is to zoom out the page to roughly 67% to have a chance of getting it all on one screen. If you don't, you'll need to do a lot of scrolling up and down.
At the top of the Dashboard page are the number of alerts you've received in the past month as well as how many of your security elements (like your Social Security number, street address or phone number) the firm has scanned for. The tabs on the left provide access to the nitty-gritty details with sections for Alerts, Information, Manage Account, Transaction History and Support.
The first time you try to see your credit scores, you'll need to authenticate yourself with your Social Security number and answer a few personal financial questions. After that, you can add your credit cards one at a time.
IdentityForce's Resources section is among the best, with calculators for picking the best term and rate for a loan and simulators for refinancing a mortgage and consolidating debt. The most powerful simulator shows the advantages and disadvantages of buying a car versus leasing one.
IdentityForce provides excellent educational articles, accessible from the Dashboard's right side under the Stay Informed title. In addition to security headlines and tips on avoiding holiday scams, I found an invitation to attend a 15-minute webinar on how to avoid the latest hacker tricks.
Keep any eye on the Protection status in the lower right because it hits 100% only after you've entered all your pertinent information. The Global Identity Threat News was out of date during part of our testing period but was later updated with interesting articles about the dark web and the latest synthetic-ID-theft techniques.
IdentityForce's Android and iOS apps have a new look and feel. The company recently added an extra layer of security with Mobile Attack Control, which can block rogue apps and spyware and avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
The apps' Alerts page is front and center. It shows recent alerts and has four main categories: Identity, Financial, Credit and Social. It comes set for two-factor authentication, although you can designate a phone or tablet as a Trusted Device.
Two other tools come with Identity Force accounts. The PC Protection Tools augments your antivirus software to protect PCs against phishing attacks. It can block screengrabs and encrypt keystrokes. On the downside, the PC Protection Tools license is for a single Windows computer, and IdentityForce has no security software for Macs.
The phone and tablet apps have Mobile Attack Control, which keeps an eye on threats as varied as spyware, open Wi-Fi hotspots and rogue apps.
Identity Force recently added an unlimited virtual private network (VPN) service to its iPhone, iPad and Android apps. It took an average of 5 seconds to connect to the VPN, which reduced network throughput by a small and very respectable 16%.
When the reporting period ended, I canceled the IdentityForce subscription in a few minutes. All it took was going to the interface's Manage Account section and opening the Protection Plan area.
After I clicked on Cancel Membership, I got an offer to stay on as a member at a discounted rate. I ended the relationship anyway and Identity Force quickly sent me an email confirmation, but the cancellation didn't take effect until the next monthly bill was due.
IdentityForce review: Bottom line
IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit offers an excellent balance of identity-protection features, credit monitoring and price. It remains the best option for anyone equally concerned about their credit rating and the threat of identity theft.
MyFICO Premier uses actual FICO credit scores, offers monthly credit reports and may be better for persons more worried about their credit ratings. On the other extreme, LifeLock Ultimate Plus bundles excellent identity protection with a top-notch security and privacy suite. Yet both are much more expensive than IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit, which is not only a good way to keep your identity yours but an exceptional value.
Updated to add news of TransUnion acquisition. This review was originally posted in April 2021.