In researching and testing Complete ID, we found it to be a solid service that covers identity monitoring and recovery for a great price. We weren’t exactly blown away by the credit monitoring features, but it did offer us monitoring across the big three credit reporting bureaus. Also, this service goes the extra mile when it comes to educating its users on identity theft protection and credit score improvement. So that was a nice bonus.
But with that said, we don’t think Complete ID is for everyone. The low price is available to Costco members only, and there are other drawbacks that hurt Complete ID’s rating. Was any of it a definite deal-breaker? Well, not really — but we think you should consider the good and the bad. Don’t worry, we’re going to share everything you need to know about this unique identity theft protection service. So let’s get started.
If a security breach affects us, we need to know. If a fraudster tries to sell our social security number or take out a loan in our name, we need to know. If someone hacks our financial accounts… well, you get the idea. While we can’t prevent identity theft from happening, monitoring services like Complete ID can immediately notify us of suspicious activity. Then, we’re able to react and limit the damage caused by freezing accounts, notifying authorities, etc.
When we test services like Complete ID, we’re looking for comprehensive monitoring. And we’re looking for a service that will notify us lighting-fast if anything fishy is going on with our credit score, social security number, or other private information. We also want the service to give us a helping hand when it comes to recovering from identity theft. And we expect to see insurance, too, so that we can get compensation for stolen money and recovery costs. Is that too much to ask?
Well, with Complete ID, we got everything we expected: monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance. Also, it’s important to note that the service is run by Experian, which is one of the three big credit reporting bureaus. We’ll touch on why this is important in just a bit.
Did You Know: There are three major reporting bureaus that keep track of your credit and issue your credit scores. They are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.1
We found one big difference with Complete ID, though. Most of the services that we research are available to everyone. If we want to sign up for ID Watchdog or IDShield, for instance, we can go right ahead and do it. We’d need a Norton account to sign up for LifeLock, but making one is fast and free. But, just to sign up for Complete ID, we needed to be a card-carrying Costco member. Complete ID wasn’t included in our Costco membership, so we had to pay for it on top of our Costco account.
Of course, you could always sign up for a Costco membership just so you can get Complete ID. However, we think that Complete ID makes a lot more sense for current Costco members than for non-members looking for identity theft coverage. After all, there are loads of identity theft services to choose from, so why jump through hoops when you don’t have to? But again, if you’re already “in the club,” then you’ll like what comes next.
When it comes to services and features, we’re always on the lookout for monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance. We already established that Complete ID is the complete package, so-to-speak. So now let’s discuss what it’s like using these features on a daily basis, and what exactly you get for your money.
We think that monitoring is the most important part of any service like this. So we were happy to see that Complete ID had some pretty strong monitoring services.
Don’t worry — we’ll breeze through the basics. We expect a bare minimum of social security number monitoring and credit monitoring, and Complete ID has both. In fact, we were happy to see that Complete ID uses all three major credit reporting bureaus instead of just one. So far, so good.
Pro Tip: Many identity crimes, including fraudulent loans and credit card applications, will trigger a credit check. With credit monitoring, you’ll find out about these crimes right away. If you’re letting your credit go unmonitored, you might find out too late that your credit score has been destroyed.
We had access to other types of monitoring with Complete ID, too. They monitored our name for change-of-address requests. The service also checked public records like court filings to look for criminal records connected to our name. We haven’t broken any laws, but identity thieves definitely have, so we’d want to know if a criminal uses our name while getting booked (book ‘em Danno).
Complete ID also checked the Dark Web for any illegal sales or exchanges of our private information. If you’re not familiar with the Dark Web, here’s a quick primer: Not all Dark Web activity is illegal, but some sites in the “underworld wide web” are full of bad guys buying, selling, and swapping innocent people’s private data. It could be ours. And it could be yours. Of course, it’s hard for us to say how much of the Dark Web Complete ID actually checks, as nobody really knows how vast the Dark Web actually is. But we always like to see monitoring services try to track Dark Web activity, even if we know that we’ll never be fully covered there.
Did You Know: The Dark Web is not the same thing as the Deep Web. We call any website that isn’t indexed by search engines like Google the “Deep Web,” but that includes a lot of innocent stuff, like the pages you see after you log into your bank account online (search engines can’t just log in like you can). The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web, but it’s more than just “deep:” you’ll need a special browser just to access sites on the Dark Web, and Dark Web traffic is hard to track. The Dark Web is a popular destination for crooks, and some of its websites are full of shady and highly-illegal activity.2
Another monitoring feature we enjoyed as Complete ID subscribers was a “neighborhood watch” service. We found that this was basically just their brand name for sex offender registry monitoring, which is a standard monitoring service that we see offered by most companies in the industry. But we were glad to see that Complete ID has it, too.
Much of our private information was covered by default; but thankfully, we could add even more sensitive info to the list. We liked that Complete ID let us add financial accounts (including bank and credit card accounts), medical ID numbers, and other key things to our monitoring. We think you’ll appreciate being able to customize and expand your monitoring as well.
If suspicious activity occurs with your name or information tied to it, you’ll want to get speedy alerts from your monitoring service. Unfortunately, we found that Complete ID was pretty laid-back in its approach to alerts. But in some ways, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In our experience, some services can be pretty aggressive when it comes to sending alerts, which means that we end up getting tons of texts, phone calls, and emails about every little thing. We know that it’s better to be safe than sorry, but you’ll probably find it easier to read and respond to alerts when you receive fewer of them. We liked that Complete ID didn’t bombard us with alerts. But in the end, we wished they had sent about 35% more alerts than their current protocol.
Our Complete ID alerts came via email and as push notifications from the mobile app. We couldn’t find any way to change our alerts settings other than disabling push notifications. So that’s another strike for Complete ID. If you want to get your alerts by text or phone call, we think you’ll want to look elsewhere for identity monitoring. This was one sticking point for us, as we like to receive text alerts when given the choice.
We counted on Complete ID’s monitoring and alerts to help us find out fast if our identity was at risk. But if someone took out a loan in our name or ran up debt on our credit cards, even early detection doesn’t undo the damage. We’d still have to run around closing down and freezing accounts, and we’d most likely still lose money. That’s why we expect services like Complete ID to offer recovery services, too. We were happy to see that the company takes its recovery responsibilities seriously.
If our identity was compromised while we were a Complete ID customer, we’d get plenty of help. They actually have recovery experts standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So if we ever had to notify law enforcement, file fraud reports, or freeze our credit, thankfully it was just a phone call away. We’d still have to do some legwork ourselves, but trust us on this, recovery assistance is priceless during an identity theft crisis. Complete ID makes the grade here.
We also enjoyed insurance coverage for identity crimes. You’ll get up to $1 million in coverage for things like stolen funds, lost wages, attorney fees, and other losses and expenses that follow in the wake of identity theft and fraud. Of course, with insurance policies like this, there are always limits and exceptions. But we were happy with the $1 million limit and the extent of the coverage. From what we’ve seen, this is both the industry standard and the gold standard of coverage.
Complete ID offered the essentials we were looking for. It also had some bonus features that we were pleased to see. We’ll highlight these below.
We liked that Complete ID’s app includes an “Education Center.” As mentioned, you can’t completely prevent identity theft, but we always recommend that you take precautionary measures to make it more difficult for a fraudster to target you. The information that Complete ID offers subscribers wasn’t exactly revelatory (you’ll find a lot of the same identity theft prevention tips here), but we always like to see services educate their users on how to protect themselves against ID theft and fraud. So thankfully, Complete ID excels in this department.
Pro Tip: Complete ID’s Education center will warn you about public Wi-Fi, and they’re absolutely right. We recommend you be very careful about connecting to public networks, and even more careful about what you do while connected. Don’t assume that nobody else can see what sites you visit — or even your passwords! Your best bet is to just avoid public Wi-Fi entirely.3
Do yourself a favor and do everything you can to limit your risk of identity theft. It won’t eliminate the risk of a hacker breaking into your online bank account, but it will help you shut down other routes that crooks use to get your information, like phishing attempts, compromised Wi-Fi networks, and brute-force password cracking. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
We think you’ll like what you get from Complete ID. But the question remains: how much does it cost? Well, we found that the answer depends on whether or not you’re a Costco member.
Complete ID has a special relationship with the wholesale retailer Costco. It used to be that you could get a Complete ID subscription without being a Costco member. But when we recently tested the service, we had to type in our Costco membership number to complete sign up. So we’re thinking the days are over for non-club members to get these goods.
We wish there had been a way to sign up for Complete ID directly, but we were happy with the prices for Costco members. With a Costco membership, you can get coverage for less than $15 a month. You’ll save even more cash if you’re one of Costco’s Executive members. See below for a quick breakdown of plans and prices.
|Costco Membership||Complete ID price (per individual)||Price to add child to plan (up to 5 children)|
|Business or Gold Star||$13.99 per month||$3.99 per month|
|Executive||$8.99 per month||$2.99 per month|
If we forget about the price of the Costco membership for a minute, we’re looking at a fairly affordable $14 per month (per person) price for identity monitoring — and even less if you’re an Executive member. That’s a good deal in our book.
However, if you’re on the fence about the Costco membership itself, then we should probably include the price of that membership in our calculations. That adds at least another 60 bucks per year after signing up with a Gold Star membership (Costco’s cheapest option). That means you’re looking at approximately $19 per month for a Costco membership + Complete ID subscription when all is said and done. And at that price, we’d recommend looking at one of our top-rated identity monitoring services instead.
Keep in mind that you can cancel your Complete ID membership at any time during your month-to-month agreement. On the other hand, Costco memberships are paid annually, which is another reason we don’t recommend that you run out and get a Costco membership just to sign up with Complete ID.
We used Complete ID’s website and apps quite a bit for this review. We found their interfaces to be pretty straightforward and well-designed. We weren’t overwhelmed by anything, but all things considered, we think Complete ID is user-friendly.
We do wish that there had been some more options for customizations. For instance, we like when identity monitoring services let us switch up our alert settings. But Complete ID didn’t allow this, and it seemed rigid and quite basic when it came to custom alert settings. So that’s another strike for the brand.
That said, we did like the way that Complete ID displayed our credit scores on a graph. The graph only included scores from after we signed up, of course, so you should expect it to take a little while before the graph becomes truly useful. But once your data is displayed in all its glory, we think it’s a nice way to keep tabs on your all-important credit score.
Complete ID’s mobile app was also pretty strong. We really liked that it uses two-factor authentication to protect our privacy. Believe it or not, even identity monitoring services themselves can be vulnerable to identity theft. Two-factor authentication could mean the difference between protecting your identity and letting the crooks have a field day with it. So this is something to keep in mind.
Did You Know: Phishing scams aim to get your password and login information.4 With two-factor authentication, stealing your password won’t be enough!
We were also able to set up Apple’s Face ID login for our Complete ID app on iOS. We were happy to do this, because Face ID is a bit more convenient than two-factor authentication, and it’s extremely secure. Face ID and other biometric login tools look at our faces in 3-D, so you can’t fool them with a photo. And they’re smart enough to keep out other clever hacking methods, like 3-D printed masks. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for even a tech-savvy crook to beat face ID.5
We also liked that the mobile app let us activate push alerts. We still would’ve liked to see the option to get notifications by text or phone call, but we think push notifications sent straight to your smartphone are good enough.
In our testing, we found that Complete ID was your typical identity monitoring service. We think that’s a good thing! Identity monitoring shouldn’t be complicated. Complete ID handles identity monitoring, has a good reputation for recovery services, and offers pretty much the exact same insurance coverage ($1 million)* as most other services we’ve seen.
And it does it all for a surprisingly affordable price, as long as you’re a Costco member, that is. If you’re a Costco member, we’d recommend you give Complete ID a good look, as it will protect your good name at one of the lowest prices we’ve seen.
If you’re not already a Costco member, we don’t think Complete ID is worth it. We like Complete ID quite a bit at the $14-per-month rate, but we think its luster if you’re paying what you’d pay for a product like LifeLock, Identity Guard, or IdentityForce — all of which we’ve ranked higher than Complete ID. When the dust settles, Complete ID works well and offers great value to current Costco members. Non-members, however, should look elsewhere.
*The Identity Theft Insurance is underwritten and administered by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, an Assurant company. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Review the Summary of Benefits.
The Balance. Irby, L. (2019, May 14). Things You Should Know About Credit Bureaus.
Business Insider. Thompson, C. (2015, December 16). Beyond Google: Everything You Need to Know About the Hidden Internet.
CSO. Dolly, J. (2018, January 9). Why You Should Never, Ever Connect to Public Wi-Fi.
How Stuff Works. Wilson, T. (Retrieved May 7, 2020). How Phishing Works.
Business Insider. Peterson, B. (2017, September 12). Apple worked with Hollywood mask makers to make sure the iPhone X's facial-recognition system can't be fooled easily.