You and your spouse are uniquely connected in the eyes of both the law and financial institutions. If your husband or wife’s identity gets compromised, you’ll both feel it. Read on for our top identity theft protection services for couples.
1. Identity Guard
Identity Guard has been in the business more than 20 years, and they’ve worked to evolve as the personal identity protection game has changed. A few years ago, they added IBM’s Watson to their services. That means you and your spouse or domestic partner get extra protection via a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system. Let’s take a look at Identity Guard’s pros and cons.
- Family plans cover all adults in household
- Uses artificial intelligence through IBM’s Watson
- Online reputation management
- Multiple tiers available
- Value family plan for as low as $12 a month
- Anti-phishing mobile app
- Risk management score
- Safe browsing extension
- Total and Premier family plans much more costly than Value Plan
- Don’t offer notification for transactions over a certain amount
Identity Guard offers more than just artificial intelligence, though. They also offer features that you’ll find at other places, like an anti-phishing app, as well as features that are harder to find. For instance, with Identity Guard, you can get alerts about potential cyberbullying incidents.
One downside, though, is the apparent lack of any alert system that warns you if someone uses your bank or credit card info to make a transaction over a certain amount. The company offers alerts for what it calls “high-risk transactions” like account takeovers and payday loans, but there’s no indication it will send you a notification if, for instance, someone makes a $1,000 purchase with your credit card. That may not be a huge deal for some people, but it’s still a noticeable gap in coverage.
IdentityForce was founded by a brother-sister team of security experts, but it’s not your typical small family business. Identity Guard has been providing identity theft protection for four decades now. Here’s a fast look at some of the company’s pros and cons.
- 40-year history of service
- Unique social media monitoring system
- Bank and credit card alerts
- Free 14-day trial
- Junk mail opt-out available
- Anti-phishing and anti-keylogging apps
- Up to $1 million in lost identity coverage
- Two-factor authentication
- Credit monitoring costs extra
- Customer service not available on major holidays
- Aggressive pop-ups when you visit website
IdentityForce offers solutions to problems both common and uncommon. For instance, almost everyone feels like they’re getting too much junk mail. It’s easiest to just toss that credit card offer in the recycling bin and forget about it, but such bins can be attractive targets for would-be thieves. IdentityForce offers a junk mail opt-out system designed to reduce the volume of physical spam in your mailbox.
They also offer things like medical ID protection. While it’s not super likely that someone else will try to use your health insurance information and stick you and your spouse with the bill, it’s also not impossible. Medical ID protection alerts you to any issues before a hospital or doctor’s office sends you to collections.
Another cool feature is the bank and credit alert system that allow you to get notified if there’s a transaction for more than a certain amount. You get to set the amount, so it could be $100, $200, $500, or more. This is great for couples who’ve agreed not to make big purchases without consulting the other, because it lets you know if someone else might be making a big purchase on your behalf.
Why Should Married Couples Consider Identity Theft Protection?
Almost everyone can benefit from some form of identity theft protection. What makes married couples special?
For one thing, their legal status is different from a couple who dates but doesn’t live together, or even one who lives together outside of marriage. Marriage includes a ton of benefits and legal protections, but it also means that, in many cases, your finances are intermingled. If one of you runs up a lot of credit card debt during the marriage, you can both be held responsible for it. There are some exceptions, and not all states have this rule. But you should assume it’s the standard unless you hear otherwise.
It may help to think of identity protection as like a security system in your house. If a burglar enters through the bedroom window and the alarm sounds, it’s not just protecting the people in that specific bedroom. It’s also protecting everyone in the house.
The Benefits of Spousal Identity Protection
Unfortunately, not everyone who steals your identity will be a stranger lurking around the dark web, just waiting for vulnerabilities to expose. Many times, a person you know will steal your information to commit financial fraud. It may even be your spouse. After all, your spouse already has easy access to your most personal information. Many spouses even share their online banking passwords without thinking, because they assume they can trust their life partner. That’s one reason spousal identity protection is so important.
This is not to say that you should be paranoid that your spouse is trying to steal your identity. If your spouse uses your credit card to make a small purchase on Amazon, then immediately texts you about it, that’s not identity theft. Identity theft is generally something they try to hide for as long as possible. Eventually, though, bills come due, and if they’re not paid, debt collectors will start harassing you. That’s why spousal identity protection is useful, as it can let you know that something is off before things reach that point.
Police may be reluctant to act as well for a couple of reasons. For one, they might view it as a lovers’ spat that needs to be worked out between the two of you. But the law also means the burden of proof is high if you want to show that your spouse created accounts or racked up bills without your consent. Spousal identity protection can help keep a record that might make it easier for prosecutors to go forward with a case against your spouse.
Features of Identity Theft Services for Couples
Dark Web Monitoring
You can’t just go to your phone and say, “Siri, get me the dark web.” If it were that easy, well, the dark web would be called the bright web. The dark web is where bad actors go to buy, sell, and trade your personal information. It’s not necessarily because of any personal grudge against you, but it can still ruin you and your partner’s life. Dark web monitoring will scan these less-than-savory websites and chat rooms, then alert you if they find something connected to your identity.
Court Record Monitoring
Why would you need to monitor court records? You and your spouse haven’t committed any crimes, and, presumably, the two of you aren’t planning on doing so anytime soon. But that won’t stop unscrupulous people from using your name and information when they’re arrested. This is more likely to happen with family members or friends who, at best, panic when they’re arrested and give out another name, then fail to ever correct the record. Court recording helps you find out if there’s a case against someone who is using your name. Clearing up that confusion isn’t always easy, but it’s way harder when you don’t even know it’s happening.
Social Media Monitoring
This may sound a bit odd, especially if you’re already on social media so much that you think you’re keeping track of things just fine on your own. But you may be taking chances with both your privacy and reputation without knowing it. That doesn’t mean you’re posting photos of your driver’s license on social media (though that’s also a bad idea). But social media monitoring will let you know if, for instance, an imposter makes a post in your name calling for white nationalist violence. That’s hopefully not your style, and you need to address it right away before your online reputation becomes forever associated with modern-day Nazis.
Your Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of identifying information around. Unfortunately, it’s also relatively easy for identity thieves to nab. SSN monitoring will let you know if it’s being used in a way that seems unusual, sinister, or both.
Identity Theft Insurance Coverage
No one can prevent every single case of identity theft. You can take steps to reduce your odds, and monitoring can help, but identity theft insurance coverage can keep you from losing everything if someone does get their grubby hands on sensitive info. Some plans offer as much as $1 million compensation for things like lost wages and attorney’s fees.
Getting your identity back can be a tedious and frustrating process. With identity restoration, you can rest assured in the knowledge that a team of specialists will help you fill out all the necessary forms and call all the necessary people.
Sex Offender Registration
Sex offenders can have multiple victims. In some cases, those victims may also be the people whose identifying information they use to do something like rent a house or get a job. If a sex offender is out there claiming your identity, this feature will warn you.
Bank Account Takeovers
Bank account takeovers happen when someone gets information that allows them to change certain account details. For instance, someone who finds out your mother’s maiden name may be able to answer security questions that will help them tap into your bank account and wreak havoc. This feature will detect any instances where someone is going around trying to alter your account details.
Pay Day Loan Monitoring
Pay day loans are billed as a quick and easy alternative to more traditional loans. That also makes them ripe for identity fraud. Someone could go into a payday loan company with your information, and then walk out with money that you’re now expected to pay back.