IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit, which costs $19.95 per month, was a close contender for our Editor's Choice award. During three months of testing, IdentityForce impressed us with its sterling credit-score monitoring and bevy of helpful tools such as a credit-score simulator, financial calculators and a free anti-malware software suite. IdentityForce also offers a plan without credit-score monitoring for $17.95 per month.
IdentityForce vs. the Competition
Credit Scores and Reports
IdentityForce displays your tri-bureau credit score on the dashboard, along with the date of the most recent update and a View Report button at the bottom of the window. Clicking on the button opens a new window that displays your score with all three credit bureaus, how your score compares to the rest of the population and factors that can affect your score (which can include having too few lines of credit or not enough revolving debt).
Below that, there's a credit summary that shows your total number of accounts, your total balances, your total monthly payments, and the number of unsatisfactory and derogatory accounts. The report also shows your credit history with each bureau, recent credit-report inquiries and contact information for creditors. A Print button at the top of the page lets you print your report for paper record-keeping.
Financial Account Monitoring
Like LifeLock, IdentityForce monitors your bank accounts and credit cards for suspicious activity. To connect the service to your account, you need only to provide your account number and the bank's routing number. Unlike LifeLock, however, IdentityForce doesn't provide a transaction history for your accounts, nor does it alert you if your checking-account balance changes dramatically or if you make large purchases using your credit card. Overall, I found IdentityForce much less useful than LifeLock for monitoring my financial activity. (Editor's Note: Since this review was first published, IdentityForce has added Bank and Credit Card Activity Alerts, which are delivered by email and SMS.)
Personal Information Monitoring
IdentityForce offers comparatively robust personal-information safeguards. The service monitors your driver's license number, email address, phone number and Social Security number, and searches millions of court and criminal records to determine if someone has used your identity. In addition, IdentityForce will alert you if someone has changed your address with the U.S. Postal Service for the purpose of redirecting your mail, or used your personal information to register in the sex-offender database. (Like LifeLock, IdentityForce lets you know if registered sex offenders live nearby.)
However, I was disappointed that IdentityForce didn't notify me that my email address and password had been found on a black-market website. The service did let me know that my name, address and birthdate were available on a number of websites, but this information isn't nearly as dangerous as my email-and-password combination.
IdentityForce delivered very few notifications. I received a single Delete Now email notification shortly after signing up for the service, which informed me that my name, address and birthdate were available on websites such as PeekYou, US Search and PeopleSmart. (You can contact these websites to have your information removed, though they often charge money to do so.) I also received two Delete Now SMS alerts. However, I didn't receive any messages informing me about changes to my credit score or activity on my credit card.
Like LifeLock, IdentityForce provides only minimal login security. Logging in requires just your email address and password. The service can also prompt you to answer a security question, but this never occurred when I attempted to log in to the site.
Tools and Utilities
On the positive side, IdentityForce offers a number of handy tools and utilities. A Credit Score Simulator tool lets you see how certain scenarios will affect your credit score. The list of possible scenarios is huge, and includes raising or lowering the balance on your credit cards; allowing accounts to become delinquent for a certain number of days; or adding a mortgage, a personal loan or an auto loan. You can even see what will happen to your score if a tax lien is added to your public record or if you declare bankruptcy.
IdentityForce offers a number of financial calculators covering topics such as loan comparisons, debt consolidation and mortgage refinancing. There's also a yes/no questionnaire that helps determine, based on your habits, if you're at elevated, high or severe risk for identity theft.
More helpful is the Online Data Protection suite, which can be downloaded for free by IdentityForce subscribers. This software protects you from keylogging malware by scrambling each letter as you type in the browser. A small bubble at the top-right corner of the browser displays the scrambled characters as you type. The suite also protects you from phishing sites (fraudulent websites designed to mimic legitimate businesses) by preventing those sites from loading in your browser. Online Data Protection is compatible with all versions of Windows, though, sadly, not with OS X.
IdentityForce provides a $1 million identity-theft insurance policy. The policy has a limit of $1,000 per week for lost wages (up to five weeks) with an aggregate limit of $1 million. The remaining money covers costs such as legal fees and unauthorized electronic transfers of funds. The latter includes only the principal amount (interest and fees are not included), and IdentityForce will not reimburse you if you have already been reimbursed by your financial institution.
IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit ($19.95 per month) was a close runner-up, thanks to its excellent credit-report monitoring and myriad tools and utilities. (Particularly helpful are its credit-score simulator and anti-phishing feature.) However, the service's email and SMS notifications were almost nonexistent. If you're willing to spend more money, LifeLock Ultimate Plus ($29.99 per month) is a somewhat better option.
Credit score monitoring: Excellent
Financial activity monitoring: Good
Personal information monitoring: Good
Alerts and notifications: Infrequent
Tools and utilities: Credit score simulator; financial calculators; anti-phishing and anti-keylogging software
Login Security: Poor
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