Since identity monitoring usually involves checking credit scores, we figure it doesn’t hurt to have a major credit reporting bureau like Experian in your corner. And when we checked out Experian’s IdentityWorks product, we were pretty impressed. We liked the affordable price tag of IdentityWorks and its various features (like personal finance help!). We also thought the option to freeze our Experian credit file with the touch of a button was pretty slick.
Of course, the service isn’t perfect. There were a few things we’d like to see Experian improve. For starters, the mobile app experience was OK — that is, when the company wasn’t trying to push credit cards on us, which we found a little annoying. Also, the upper-tier plans are a touch pricey. But overall, we think you will be impressed with what this ID theft protection service brings to the table. We’ll share everything you need to know right here. So, let’s take a look!
We’ve reviewed a lot of identity monitoring services, so we’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what to look for. After thorough research and testing, we think you’ll find that IdentityWorks can handle all of the usual monitoring tasks. With IdentityWorks, we had access to monitoring services that kept track of our personal data, alerts to let us know when things were looking fishy, recovery services to help us if we fell victim to an identity theft crime, and insurance to cover identity theft losses and expenses. Pretty much the whole deal.
Of course, we didn’t expect IdentityWorks to stop identity thieves magically in their tracks (only the folks at the FBI can do that!). Rather, we were looking for comprehensive monitoring and smart alerts that would help us to react fast at the first sign of fraud. We think IdentityWorks handled it all fairly well. We didn’t have to use their recovery services or insurance (thank goodness), but our in-depth research suggests that IdentityWorks stacks up well in those departments, too. Don’t worry, we’ll unpack all of these details and more, so you can decide if Experian IdentityWorks is right for you.
FYI: No monitoring service can prevent identity theft, but you can do things on your own to limit your risk. We recommend keeping your passwords strong and changing them often, shredding personal documents, and turning off Bluetooth on your smartphone when you’re not using it.1
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, you should know a little background on Experian. You’re probably already familiar with Experian as one of the three major credit reporting bureaus — you know, the ones that come up with your credit score and credit reports. Along with Equifax and TransUnion, Experian keeps an eye on stuff like your pesky credit card bill, medical bills, rent payments, and more. Like it or not, when lenders want to know if you’re a safe bet for a mortgage or other type of loan, they’ll ask one of the three major credit bureaus.2
If someone ever stole our identity and started taking out loans in our name, Experian and the rest of the credit reporting gang are among the first to find out. That’s why we always expect to see credit monitoring as a part of an identity monitoring service. It only makes sense to us that the credit bureaus themselves would provide this service, without fail. Naturally, Experian isn’t the only one that offers it — we’ve also reviewed Equifax’s identity monitoring services, and they supply it as well.
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of what IdentityWorks offers, we’ll cover how it performs in real-life situations. Let’s dig into the different features and services we liked (and didn’t like!), as well as what you can expect from your Experian experience.
We already touched on what sort of features and services we were expecting to see from Experian, including monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance. It’s true — we wanted it all. And why not? The market is full of quality identity theft protection services, and we have pretty high standards. So, let’s see if Experian IdentityWorks met our standards.
We even got some helpful tips on how to improve our credit. We loved to see that because some of the things that go into your credit score can be hard to figure out on your own. For instance, you probably know that you should pay off (or at least pay down!) your credit card every month, but did you know that you should try to keep your credit usage to less than 30% of your credit limit?3 We like that Experian shares these tidbits with their subscribers. It helps to build trust.
Pro Tip: Maintain a good credit score by paying bills on time, limiting line-of-credit requests, and using less than a third of your credit line on your credit card(s).
Thankfully, we had access to more than just credit monitoring from IdentityWorks. Our social security number was covered, too. And the service also monitored change-of-address requests and changes to the sex offender registry as well. Of all the terrible situations we could imagine, it would be quite the shocker to learn that a sex offender had stolen our identity. Needless to say, we think a sex offender registry feature is more than worth it.
IdentityWorks also promised to keep an eye out for our information on the Dark Web. Now, let us remind you that it’s pretty much impossible to find every site on the Dark Web, much less monitor it.4 When services promise us they’ll monitor the Dark Web, they’re doing their best to look for our information on the shady Dark Web pages that are easiest to track. So while we do think the feature is helpful, it’s never going to cover you 100%. That’s just the nature of the beast that is the Dark Web. But as far as we could tell, IdentityWorks did a pretty good job tracking and monitoring the basics here.
The company can also monitor bank account activity. That is, we could set IdentityWorks to flag and alert us of any big transactions involving our linked accounts. We think you’ll find this feature useful, especially if you have various financial accounts. We could also add other things for Experian to monitor, including driver’s licenses and passports. We recommend you take advantage of these features if you get IdentityWorks.
We received our alerts primarily through the IdentityWorks app, which we’ll talk about a bit more in our section on user experience. We found that the default settings limited what we got via email, though. If you want to make sure that every alert triggers an email, then you’ll want to change the default settings.
We highly recommend identity and credit monitoring services, as they’ll help you spot identity crimes right away. But again, we don’t expect these services to prevent crimes, and neither should you. We’re looking for services that act like home security alarms, but for your identity. We want to receive a notification at the first sign of identity theft and, hopefully, jump into action before too much damage occurs.
One thing that we really like about most ID theft protection services is that they take it a step further. Beyond monitoring and alerts, these services usually offer recovery services and insurance for identity crime victims. We think you’ll find that IdentityWorks has some pretty solid offerings in the recovery department.
If our identity were stolen, we’d need to freeze our credit fast. We liked that IdentityWorks let us freeze our Experian credit file with the click of a button in the IdentityWorks app.5 We think you’ll like this perk, too, even though you’ll still have two other bureaus to address. Don’t worry, the IdentityWorks recovery pros can walk you through freezing those files as well.
Now, if a crook stole our identity, our IdentityWorks recovery features would kick in automatically. Let’s be real, having your identity stolen can be mentally, emotionally, and financially taxing. So, it’s nice to know that we’d get help with the annoying “chores” that identity theft victims need to tackle — like canceling credit cards, changing passwords, freezing credit files, and so on.
With IdentityWorks, we could act quickly if our identity was stolen — but we’d probably still lose some hard-earned money. So, we were happy to see that our IdentityWorks subscription included insurance coverage of either $500,000 or $1,000,000. Your coverage amount will depend on which plan you choose (we’ll talk more about this in our pricing section below).
A million bucks is pretty much the industry standard, so we think you may want to spring for the more extensive coverage. We recommend it because these policies protect more than just crime-related losses — they will also cover expenses like lawyers and other professional services you’ll need. We’d like to see IdentityWorks offer $1 million insurance across the board, no matter the plan. So, we think there’s room for improvement here.
Pro Tip: If you become the victim of identity crime, you should file reports with the Federal Trade Commission and your local police, notify the IRS, contact all of your banks and credit card companies, and freeze your credit.6 That’s a lot to do, which is why we recommend having recovery services in place ahead of time.
We expect monitoring, alerts, and recovery features, but that doesn’t mean we’ll turn down extra perks. We were happy to see that IdentityWorks offered us additional features.
We liked that IdentityWorks offered “lost wallet assistance.” This feature helps you keep track of what’s in your wallet and gives you a leg up on replacing and canceling cards if (or when!) you lose your wallet. We’ve seen this feature from a few other competitors, too. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but we think you’ll like it for peace of mind.
Another thing we liked was seeing our credit scores mapped out over time, as this representation gave us a nice visual of our current standing, recent history, and any trends we should track. Experian IdentityWorks also provided us with tips on how to improve our score, but to be honest, these were mostly common sense and not so useful.
Another standout feature, in the IdentityWorks app, they offer something called “Experian Boost.” We pay a lot of little bills that nobody bothers to report to the credit reporting bureaus, which stinks, as those on-time payments should be raising our score. Thankfully, the Experian Boost feature lets you document payments for things like utilities. If you’ve been paying bills on time, we think you’ll like how this feature can help to improve your credit score with Experian.
We think these features make IdentityWorks a useful personal finance tool, as well as an identity theft monitoring service. Although IdentityWorks didn’t exactly blow us away, we do believe these features add to its overall value.
We care a whole lot about how easy these services are to use. Since ID theft protection services usually cover the same basic things, the user experience is sometimes the big difference-maker or deal-breaker. It’s just the way it goes.
We found the IdentityWorks web app to be hyper-focused on the credit monitoring portion of identity monitoring. We guess this concentration makes sense given IdentityWorks is a subsect of the credit reporting bureau Experian. The web app displayed a simple bar chart of our credit usage and our total available credit. This display helped us keep track of how much credit we were using, and whether we risked exceeding the recommended 30% limit we mentioned. We also got a line chart tracking our month-to-month credit card balances. These resources are all nifty budgeting tools that we think you’ll find quite useful.
Did You Know: Having a credit card can help your credit, but that doesn’t mean that having a lot of credit cards will help your credit even more. Only get credit cards you need. Having too many at once can hurt your credit score.
However, the mobile app wasn’t as streamlined or easy to use. The features we did like were Apple’s Face ID access, which made logging in a breeze, and the instant mobile alerts. But there’s certainly room for improvement. One thing we were not happy to see was that IdentityWorks used its apps to push credit card deals.
For instance, we logged in one day to find an ad stretched across the whole top of the page, telling us that our credit score would let us “earn cash back or travel points.” Another box on the page showed us a “suggested” credit card from Capital One. If you ask us, these credit card suggestions were essentially ads. And we saw them all over. We even saw an ad on our device that loaded after we logged out of the app. Not fun.
We found this nuisance a little skeevy. Credit cards can be good for your credit, but only to a point. We thought pushing lots of credit cards undermined the great personal finance tools we liked in the IdentityWorks app. Many Americans are struggling, and we think that they should be able to get the helpful graphs and charts that IdentityWorks offers without having credit card ads shoved in their faces. We don’t know if these ads disappear if the user’s credit score is very low (we sure hope so!). So, if you get IdentityWorks, we recommend that you avoid falling for their credit card pitches unless you are already looking for a new card.
We think good customer service is key to a good user experience. We found that Experian IdentityWorks has a solid customer service department, complete with dedicated “fraud resolution support” (that’s the recovery service we talked about earlier). You’ll like how these pros work hand-in-hand with you to freeze your credit, cancel cards, clean up your credit file, and do all of the other stuff that you’ll need to do if a fraudster steals your identity.
In our experience, IdentityWorks is a good value at a reasonable price. We think you’ll want to give some thought to which subscription you get, though. There are two you can choose from: IdentityWorks Plus ($9.99 per month) and IdentityWorks Premium ($19.99 per month). You can get each of those options as either an individual or family plan.
You get everything in IdentityWorks Plus, as well as:
There’s a lot to like in both of these plans, but we are more impressed with the Premium tier. We think the Plus package falls a little short when it comes to insurance coverage, and we like the bank account monitoring that’s included with IdentityWorks Premium.
|Individual Plan||One Adult and Up to 10 Children||Two Adults and Up to 10 Children|
|IdentityWorks Plus||$9.99 per month or $99.99 per year||$14.99 per month or $149.99 per year||$19.99 per month or $199.99 per year|
|IdentityWorks Premium||$19.99 per month or $199.99 per year||$24.99 per month or $249.99 per year||$29.99 per month or $299.99 per year|
At only $10 a month, this service is very cheap. So, we think you’ll find that the IdentityWorks Plus subscription is a good deal even with some of the drawbacks. And we’ve come to expect prices around $20 to $30 per month for premium coverage, so we found IdentityWorks Premium to be fairly priced.
We like low prices, and we love free trials. So, we were thrilled to see that IdentityWorks would let us test things out for free. We think you’ll like IdentityWorks’ 30-day free trial, too. You can sign up for either plan on the free trial, even the more expensive one. If you do sign up for the free trial, just remember to decide before the end of the 30 days. If you don’t cancel the service, they will automatically bill you at the end of the 30-day trial.
Pro Tip: A free trial is a great way to test out a service risk-free. Signing up for multiple free trials at once lets you directly compare services against each other. Just be sure to cancel the ones you don’t want before the trial ends.
We found Experian IdentityWorks to be a very solid identity monitoring service, and we think that it really goes above and beyond when it comes to monitoring credit and debt. However, there were some things we’d like to see improved — like their pushy credit card sales tactics within the mobile app.
Overall, we think that IdentityWorks holds its own in identity monitoring and recovery. It definitely tops some weaker competitors (like ID Watchdog, offered by Experian’s fellow credit bureau Equifax). And we don’t think that any competitor can match the way IdentityWorks used its credit and debt monitoring to help us out with our personal finance. With that said, we’re not ready to put this service in the top tier with some of our favorites.
All in all, we do recommend IdentityWorks, as it might be a good fit for some folks. It’s a decent identity monitoring service, and it will suit you well if you’re looking for some personal finance tools to go with your monitoring, alerts, recovery features, and insurance.
O’Shea, B. (2020, April 27). How to Prevent Identity Theft. NerdWallet.
Pritchard, J. (2020, January 20). How Credit Bureaus Work: What They Do and What They Know. The Balance.
Mangla, I. (2018, December 18). How to Improve Your Credit Score. Experian.
Arthur, C. (2016, March 26). The dark web: how big, how dark and what’s there? Alphr.
Experian. (2020, May 4). Experian – Free Credit Report & FICO® Score.
LaPonsie, M. (2019, July 8). 10 Things to Do After Your Identity Is Stolen. U.S. News & World Report.