Award-winning identity theft protection for the budget-minded consumer
In our modern world, the threat of identity theft is ever-present. No matter how careful you are about protecting your private information, it is always possible to become a victim. And when that happens, you’ll want to find out fast and move to recover your identity and your money. That’s why services like ID Watchdog exist: these identity monitoring services are all about keeping an eye on your personal information and helping you get back on your feet if you become a victim of an identity crime. But ID Watchdog is hardly the only option you have for protecting your identity, of course, which is why we’re here with this ID Watchdog review. We’re out to find out if ID Watchdog is worth the money and how it measures up to the competition. Read on for everything you need to know about ID Watchdog, including its features, packages and pricing, and, of course, what we think of it!
We cover ID Watchdog and services like it all the time here on our site, but let’s take a moment to just clarify what we’re talking about here. ID Watchdog is one of several major identity monitoring services. These services generally focus on two basic things: First, they monitor personal information in an effort to detect identity theft and related fraud. Second, they offer some kind of restoration or recovery services to be used in the event of an identity theft incident.
There are a few major companies in this space. For its part, ID Watchdog is owned by Equifax. You may have heard of Equifax, and likely in a context that does not inspire overwhelming confidence about its ability to protect your identity, but here we are.
Of course, if you squint, you can see the infamous Equifax security breach as a great example of why you should have a service like ID Watchdog in the first place. These breaches can happen to virtually any organization, and it’s important to find out fast if you’re affected and to find ways to protect yourself and recover if necessary. ID Watchdog seems particularly focused on its recovery services (as opposed to the monitoring side of its offerings), so perhaps it’s the right fit for our dangerous world. Let’s find out, shall we?
Like most services of its kind, ID Watchdog offers identity monitoring services, sends users alerts when it spots anything troubling, and offers assistance with recovery following an identity theft incident. Let’s take a closer look at each of these services and their features, along with some extras the ID Watchdog throws in to sweeten the deal. Keep in mind that the availability of the services and features listed here may vary depending on the ID Watchdog package that you choose. For more details on what is included in each package, check out the Plans and pricing section below.
ID Watchdog monitors the key stuff that you’d expect from a company in this space. Among other things, the company will use your social security number to monitor your credit and watch for any loans taken out in your name. If someone tries to change your address with the post office, ID Watchdog will see that, too. ID Watchdog also says it will keep an eye on the Dark Web for signs that your information has been shared or sold by the shady characters that hang out there.
Though it is hardly alone in this regard, ID Watchdog is pretty vague about how often it checks in on your credit. ID Watchdog does specify, however, that it checks with all three major credit bureaus — not just its own parent company, Equifax.
ID Watchdog also offers monitoring for National Provider Identifiers (NPI). This particular service is only useful to the folks who have an NPI, of course: namely, healthcare providers. For individuals with an NPI, this is a nice perk that isn’t included in many competitor services.
If ID Watchdog spots anything alarming in the course of its monitoring, it will respond by notifying you.
Identity theft issues are not the only things that can trigger an alert from ID Watchdog. You’ll also get alerts when individuals on the sex offender registry move into your neighborhood.
You can customize your alerts, to an extent, but selecting or deselecting four different ways that ID Watchdog can reach you: email, text, push notifications, and phone calls.
A lot of monitoring services emphasize the monitoring and alerts portions of their businesses, even sometimes implying — inaccurately — that lots of monitoring can somehow prevent identity theft, rather than just ensure that you find out about it fast. ID Watchdog, in contrast, seems more eager to promote its recovery services. Features like $1 million in insurance coverage for identity theft incidents are featured prominently in ID Watchdog’s marketing.
Of course, just because ID Watchdog is proud of this stuff doesn’t mean that it’s out of the ordinary. ID Watchdog does offer $1 million in insurance coverage and “emergency support services” from a “Certified Identity Theft Recovery Team,” but both of these features are very typical of services in this space.
It’s also worth noting that this $1 million insurance coverage that ID Watchdog (and several other services) offer is not necessarily as comprehensive as the marketing materials may make it sound. These insurance policies are serviced by outside companies, and a quick look at the fine print on the contracts tends to reveal some eyebrow-raising exceptions. There are all sorts of ways for you to end up with expenses that are not covered by the policy, even if those expenses were indeed the result of an identity theft incident.
At least, that’s how it usually is. As for what’s covered under the plan that AIG provides to ID Watchdog customers, your guess is as good as mine. ID Watchdog does not link to the insurance terms and conditions on its own terms and conditions page, and I couldn’t find anything in email email related to my policy.
To be clear, the limited insurance coverage issue is hardly unique to ID Watchdog. This is something that consumers should remember about each and every one of these identity monitoring and recovery services. And, in the particular case of ID Watchdog, it’s hard to say with any confidence what is covered at all.
ID Watchdog gives subscribers a quick and easy way to lock or freeze their credit report. The bad news is that this feature only works with one of three major credit monitoring bureaus (you can probably guess which one: Equifax, which owns ID Watchdog).
ID Watchdog has a “Lost Wallet Vault” built into its apps. The idea is that you can store important identifying and financial information in one spot for quick access if and when your wallet is lost and stolen. The financial accounts can also be monitored by ID Watchdog.
ID Watchdog also offers credit reports and scores from all three major credit bureaus.
The features and services above are all available through ID Watchdog, but which ones you get will depend on which ID Watchdog subscription you choose. ID Watchdog keeps things pretty simple by offering just two core plans: ID Watchdog Plus and ID Watchdog Platinum. The Platinum plan costs $5 more a month (on the monthly payment plan) and includes one feature that is lacking in the entry-level version. Here’s a breakdown of what each plan includes:
ID Watchdog Plus
ID Watchdog Platinum
Everything that’s included in ID Watchdog Plus, and:
It’s worth reiterating that, as noted in the Services and Features section of this ID Watchdog review, ID Watchdog’s credit scores and reports come from all three major credit bureaus but are made available only once per year.
Let’s look at the prices next.
ID Watchdog’s prices look relatively affordable in the context of the competition. While not in the super-budget range of $10 or so a month, the ID Watchdog Plus plan is still pretty cheap. The Platinum plan’s $20-per-month price point looks very good compared to the prices we see offered by industry leaders like IdentityForce and LifeLock, which charge up to around $25 and $35, respectively, for top plans.
Again, the difference between the Platinum plan and the Plus plan is just the availability of those credit reports and scores every year.
Most of these identity monitoring services do more or less the same thing. They differentiate themselves primarily in the thoroughness of their services and through the user experiences they offer. I was not impressed with ID Watchdog’s efforts in the second category.
Little things about the ID Watchdog struck me as slipshod. For instance, when I had to add my date of birth to my account, I had to use the drop-down calendar to select it — I couldn’t just write out the date in the standard MM/DD/YYYY format and move on. And while ID Watchdog demands all account passwords be “at least 10 characters long and contain: a lower-case letter, an uppercase letter, a number, and a special character,” it doesn’t actually verify this as you type in a proposed password. If you break the rules, ID Watchdog just reloads the screen and makes you try again.
At one point, I logged into the ID Watchdog web app (using Firefox), asked ID Watchdog to remember my computer, and then was booted back to the initial login page. When I tried to log in again, I got an error saying that I would have to log out of the existing session before logging in again. I’m not sure how ID Watchdog expected me to log out, though, given that I didn’t actually seem to be logged in. I got the same error in Chrome, so I closed down both browsers. That worked — the first time. I later got this error again and was unable to log in for some time, even after shutting down all my browsers and re-starting them. It seems to be some kind of error on ID Watchdog’s end.
When I was logged in, I was greeted by a pretty average app. While reasonably functional, the ID Watchdog app looks like the sort of account page that you might have found when logging into a service like this in the mid-2000s.
Frankly, the visually unappealing web app fit into my perception of ID Watchdog in general. The user experience and the service itself both feel pretty standard.
As distinctly unimpressive as the web app was, I liked the mobile app. I tested the ID Watchdog iOS app, and I found it to be significantly sleeker than the web app. With that said, it wasn’t any more impressive than the mobile apps that ID Watchdog’s competitors offer.
The alerts that ID Watchdog sent me didn’t always seem relevant. I got an email of “Data Breach Alerts” that included “a summary of events that [ID Watchdog] thought [I] should know about.” The first item was a data breach at a hospital in a Washington State town that I have never stepped foot in, and the second was an item about a data break at the gas pumps at Hy-Vee, which a chain of grocery stores exclusive to the Midwest. I do not live in the Midwest. The “Data Breach Alerts” email appears to be some kind of newsletter advising me of the latest data breaches around the country, which is not something that I care about at all and, for that matter, happens to be what I pay ID Watchdog to care about for me.
Emails of the sort I got appear to be what ID Watchdog calls “Newsletters” within its settings — where, mercifully, you will find an option to opt out. I promptly did, but I was not particularly impressed by the fact that a privacy service put me on its own mailing list for what, to me, seemed like junk mail.
ID Watchdog will monitor your personal information for $15 a month (and up). It will provide you with managed recovery services in the event that you become a victim of identity theft. All of this ID Watchdog actually does, and does more or less competently.
Competitors like LifeLock and Identity Guard look and feel better from an end-user perspective and offer more perks and features, albeit at a higher price. ID Watchdog has a bit of budget appeal. Overall, ID Watchdog is an acceptable service, but there may be better alternatives depending on your needs.