At $10 a month for an individual, or $25 a month for families, IDShield is the identity-protection value king, providing up to $5 million for identity restoration. It has nearly as many features as IdentityForce or LifeLock, despite costing a fraction of those services' monthly subscription fees.
The downsides are that IDShield's credit-score information comes from only one reporting agency, it doesn't offer a composite score of creditworthiness and its support staffers are not available 24/7. But if you're fine with all of that and you'd like an inexpensive way to protect your family's identity and credit, it's worth considering.
To assess leading identity-protection services, I signed up for six competing services as a regular paying customer in the fall of 2017 and used each service for three months. The services did not know I was reviewing them.
Costs and What's Covered
IDShield offers two plans: Individual ($10 a month) and Family ($25 a month for an adult, a spouse or partner, and up to eight dependents). Both monitor financial activity in your name as well as key points of data, including debit and credit card accounts. IDShield offers to spend up to $5 million per incident to restore your credit.
IDShield parent company, LegalShield, offers legal-support plans for individuals and small businesses that range from $16 to $79 a month.
Because LegalShield is a multilevel-marketing company, like Amway or Herbalife, its Better Business Bureau ratings are scattered among dozens of independent sales offices across the U.S. Most of them get A+ or no ratings, with few complaints.
The main office is near Oklahoma City, and also has an A+ BBB rating. It has about an equal number of positive and negative comments, most concerning the legal side rather than the identity-protection side of the business.
Credit Scores and Monitoring
IDShield does a good job of looking after your identity and financial life, but its credit-monitoring data comes only from Experian, not from Equifax or TransUnion.
In the event of an identity-theft incident, IDShield will use Equifax and TransUnion information to investigate and help to restore your credit. Unlike LifeLock or Credit Sesame, IDShield does not let you see any composite creditworthiness score, such as those from FICO or Vantage.
IDShield scanned the open and dark segments of the web for things like my Social Security number, my email addresses, my date of birth and other identifiers. IDShield also checks court records and scans activity involving payday loan companies, social media accounts and databases not open the public to check on potential incidents of fraud. It actively monitors your bank and credit-card accounts for suspicious activities.
IDShield does a good job of looking after your identity and financial life, but its credit-monitoring data comes only from Experian, and not from Equifax and TransUnion.
I dug into my credit-score history and found a tabular recitation of my Experian scores over the three-month period that I subscribed to IDShield. I really liked that IDShield recommended ways to improve my score. Apparently, I needed to reduce my credit card balances.
I liked that the Pay Day, Court, Credit and Internet Monitoring sections each had a green check mark to show at a glance that everything was OK. But to check on them, I needed to view each page separately.
Most other identity-protection services I tried provided full credit reports from one or all three bureaus monthly or quarterly, but IDShield offered only the single free annual report that Experian is required by law to provide. I had to go to the official AnnualCreditReport.com website to get it.
Insurance and Services
With the promise to spend up to $5 million to investigate incidents of identity theft and rebuild your credit rating afterward, IDShield beats the other services I tried by a lot in this regard. All the rest will spend only up to $1 million.
The good news is that IDShield's identity-restoration services are carried out by Kroll Inc., a private investigative firm. The bad news is that that $5 million does not cover "any direct or indirect financial losses attributable to the stolen-identity event" and will not cover any wages lost while you try to repair your credit.
In other words, once your money's gone, it's gone, unless your credit card issuer will cover your losses. (If you report fraudulent use of a card immediately, the issuer usually will.) Some of the other identity-protection services do promise to reimburse you for lost funds that the card issuer or bank won't cover.
IDShield promises to spend up to $5 million to investigate incidents of identity theft and recover your identity, but that doesn't cover 'any direct or indirect financial losses attributable to the stolen-identity event.'
If I were to lose my wallet, IDShield could help by canceling the credit and debit cards for me. It also has a section with helpful tips on how to get a new driver's license or immigration green card replaced.
Notifications and Alerts
If IDShield has no alerts to give you, the interface shows a green check mark. Alerts include the expected reviews of bank-account and credit-card activity and whenever cash is withdrawn, transferred or spent. However, the service doesn't cover financial investments or retirement accounts as LifeLock's priciest plan does, leaving a large hole in IDShield's protection.
Alerts show up on IDShield's web interface and mobile apps. You can add a mobile phone number to the notification list to receive text message alerts, and you can sign up to receive emailed alerts. You can also get text notifications and mobile-app alerts of potential data breaches that may affect you. The service also lets you know if a registered sex offender has moved into your neighborhood.
Finally, IDShield offered excellent advice on how to raise my security posture, as well as good practical credit advice. It's worthwhile reading even for those with excellent credit.
During three months of testing, IDShield sent me seven notifications, none of which showed a problem with my credit. What I did see included purchase and password confirmations.
Once I opened the IDShield site and chose my region, I picked an IDShield plan.
After creating an account and adding my personal information, I entered my date of birth and the last four digits of my Social Security number. Other identity-protection services asked me for my full SSN, which could become a problem if any of their databases were to become compromised, so IDShield's more limited approach is preferable.
I then typed in the number for a credit card to pay for the service. A summary of the charges came up for confirmation, and I agreed to IDShield's terms of service. Finally, the site asked me for the answers to five questions in the event I needed to authenticate myself. All told, it took me nearly 9 minutes to set up IDShield, a bit less than the 12-minute average.
With my account in place, I added the credit- and debit-card accounts I wanted to be tracked. IDShield can monitor up to 10 card accounts, and you must include the one you used to pay for your IDShield subscription. You can also register bank accounts with the service.
Right after setting up my IDShield account, I emailed the company's tech support staff to ask whether my identity had been compromised in the Equifax data breach. I never received a reply.
It was slow going for me, with some entries taking a minute to register. Your driver's license, passport and store credit cards can also be registered.
IDShield does not provide many extra utilities, such as antivirus or anti-keylogging software, but it does include a password manager. The company lacks 24/7 support, although there's always someone on call to respond to an incident of identity theft. If you need non-emergency help, you can call or email between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Central time on weekdays.
Right after setting up my IDShield account, I emailed the company's tech support staff to see whether my identity had been compromised in the Equifax data breach. I never received a reply.
There was no direct link within the IDShield interface to stop the subscription, but when my three months were up, a quick email to tech support did the trick. I got an email confirming that my service had been terminated the next day.
Interface and Utilities
IDShield uses an encrypted, secure HTTPS connection for its desktop browser interface. You need to log in on the site's upper-right corner. The site was slow to respond and on several occasions, it took a minute to log me in to the service, which I found frustrating.
There's no option for two-factor authentication (2FA), a powerful but simple security procedure that asks users to enter a special code sent to their mobile phones when logging in from a new location or device. Even if a thief had your password and username, he or she wouldn't be able to access your account.
Many online services — including Google, Facebook and Yahoo — offer 2FA, as do IdentityForce and ID Watchdog. It's kind of mystifying that other identity-protection services, including IDShield, don't.
Overall, IDShield's interface was the dullest of the six services I tested, with a plain white-and-blue color scheme. It lacked the useful color coding that ID Watchdog had to tell you at a glance what was right and wrong.
The main IDShield screen opened with a bar graph that showed my Experian credit score on a month-by-month basis. It wasn't my idea of the most relevant information, but it could be useful for those trying to improve their scores. Below that, the service showed me an alert summary, as well as which accounts of mine were being monitored and any relevant address-change information.
But for day-to-day use, the presentation of all this information was frustrating. IDShield just tried to squeeze too much into each screen. I found myself scrolling up and down a lot to find what I needed, and would have preferred having had items split into categories with separate pages.
IDShield includes its Vault password manager for securely storing login credentials. The password manager works as an extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers.
By contrast with the drab web interface, the IDShield tablet and phone apps are colorful and self-contained, with minimal scrolling required. The 29MB app has a main screen that shows your Experian score in a rainbow pie chart as well as any current notifications. At the bottom is a panic button for contacting IDShield.
There are also sections for Alerts, History, Monitoring and an omnibus More category for changing passwords and getting help. A demo mode can help newbies get accustomed to the service and software; the phone/tablet apps prevent you from taking screenshots, which is good for privacy.
If you want identity protection for your entire family, IDShield's $25-a-month group plan is the best bargain we've seen. The service monitors only one credit agency, but it has good notifications and alerts, as well as the promise of $5 million in coverage to resolve incidents of identity theft.
But for individuals, as opposed to couples or families, who are willing to pay more to get more detailed coverage, we recommend IdentityForce.
Credit: Tom's Guide