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Updated on Thursday, March 10, 2016
IDShield is a fairly new company and is a division of LegalShield, which was founded in 1972. It recently partnered with Kroll, a company that consists of expert investigators who handle data breach response and issues relating to cyber security.
Through IDShield, the two companies offer identity theft protection services to over a million people in all 50 states as well as four Canadian provinces. If you’re worried about the possibility of your identity getting stolen, here’s how IDShield can help.
Overview of IDShield’s Identity Theft Protection Service
What you’re mainly paying for when you enroll in an identity theft protection service is identity theft restoration. This means a representative from the company will handle all aspects of resolving identity theft for you, from paperwork and making phone calls to working with creditors, agencies, and law enforcement on your behalf.
IDShield offers this as well as:
- Customer Support: Specialists are available to give customers advice on how to protect their identity and provide assistance in taking steps to prevent fraud. If an emergency occurs, you can reach an investigator at any time.
- Security Monitoring: IDShield will monitor up to 10 bank accounts and 10 credit card accounts, your Social Security number, address, credit, court records, and personal information. It also monitors the black market for any mention of your information, and monitors your address and will alert you when someone else uses it.
You can view a break down of the services offered (in comparison to LifeLock) here on the website.
You can do most of this for free; again, the main reason to pay for a service like this is to allow someone else to take care of restoring your identity, as it tends to be a time-consuming and complicated process. Just imagine filing your tax return only to find that someone beat you to it, or that a thief opened a line of credit in your name without your knowledge. Do you know the first steps you would take to get your identity back? If not, it could be worth paying for.
How useful are the other services provided? The credit report and score offered by IDShield is only available through TransUnion. You can monitor your credit for free using CreditSesame.com or CreditKarma.com.
As for account monitoring, many financial institutions have alerts built into your account already. If you haven’t opted into those, you should, as it’s not always automatic. Many banks and credit card companies are good at alerting you to possible fraud.
You can also monitor your credit reports for free – you can order three (one from each credit reporting company) every twelve months through annualcreditreport.com.
What Identity Theft Insurance Protects You Against
IDShield offers a $5 million service guarantee, where most other identity theft protection services offer a $1 million service guarantee. Is the difference worth it?
First, it’s important to understand what you can use the insurance for. There’s a common misconception among consumers that the purpose of identity theft insurance is to safeguard you against stolen funds. That’s not exactly the case. While some of these service guarantees offer to compensate a set amount of stolen transferred funds (typically up to $10,000), the true purpose of identity theft insurance is to protect you against costs incurred as a result of the identity theft.
These are such costs as lost wages for having to take time off of work, hiring a lawyer in case you need to go to court, hiring a babysitter to care for your child while you’re gone, etc. Unfortunately, IDShield doesn’t make its service guarantee document public on its website like other identity theft protection services. We recommend asking what the guarantee covers before paying.
The only information IDShield offers is that it will “spend up to $5 million using Kroll’s industry-leading Licensed Investigators to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help recover and restore your identity to its pre-theft status.”
How IDShield Works
IDShield provides alerts in many different situations. A few examples include if a new account has been opened in your name, if there’s a credit fraud attempt or new loan attempt, or if there has been an inquiry into your credit.
When this happens, you’ll receive an alert from IDShield via email and the membership website (www.myidshield.com). Customer support is available at any time when an emergency occurs, so you can get assistance with resolving the issue right away.
How Much Does IDShield Cost?
An individual plan is $9.95 per month, and a family plan is $19.95 per month. Both plans have access to the same services, but the family plan covers a spouse as well as up to eight minor children.
The cost isn’t too steep when compared with LifeLock, but Zander and Prosper Daily are more affordable alternatives, and neither offer access to licensed private investigators.
IDShield doesn’t outright claim to completely prevent identity theft (no one can), but unlike other websites, it doesn’t explicitly state that it can’t. It does claim its services will “give you all you need to keep your identity secure from thieves and fraud.” At the bottom of the site is the message, “Nearly 10 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. Don’t be one of them.” This can give the incorrect impression that signing up will prevent having your identity stolen.
Additionally, many other identity theft protection services have their insurance guarantee document on their website. IDShield does not. It’s good to know how you can benefit from it.
IDShield’s FAQ page also leaves a lot to be desired. It only answers general questions about identity theft and fraud – not product specific questions. It does make mention of the fact consumers can order three free credit reports through annualcreditreport.com.
Alternative Identity Theft Protection Services
Not keen on the services offered by IDShield? There are two other options you can look into.
Zander is a web-based service, making it easy for anyone (especially the elderly) to access. Similar to IDShield, you receive alerts via email. However, it’s the most affordable option out of the identity theft protection services we’ve reviewed. It’s $6.75 per month for individuals, and $12.90 per month for families. The affordability can be attributed to the fact that it only has the essential services; it doesn’t have credit monitoring, for example. You still get identity restoration services, black market surveillance, and a $1 million expense protection plan.
Unlike Zander, Prosper Daily is completely mobile. It’s available on the Android and Apple store for free, but to get the identity restoration service it offers, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month. In addition to protecting yourself against fraud, you can use Prosper Daily to monitor your spending and various financial accounts. It’s a good option for those in their 20s or 30s, or for anyone who prefers to use their phones to manage their finances. It also comes with $1 million identity theft insurance, black market surveillance, and credit monitoring.
IDShield isn’t necessarily a bad choice for identity theft protection, but it would be nice to see detailed information on the services offered and how consumers benefit. The biggest draw to IDShield seems to be the Licensed Private Investigators members get access to, but that doesn’t automatically make the identity restoration process better or worth paying more for.