We’ve spent a lot of time researching and testing ID Watchdog, and we’ve gotten to know it pretty well. We think you’ll find that ID Watchdog is true to its name: it will keep an eye on your sensitive information and let you know if anything fishy is happening behind-the-scenes. Our experience with ID Watchdog’s award-winning plans was mainly positive. And we think that there’s a lot you’ll like about the service.
Of course, we also found some room for improvement. For instance, we wish the user experience had been a little smoother as we thought there were areas that definitely needed improvement. So we don’t think ID Watchdog is quite the “top dog” in the identity monitoring business; but we do think you should consider them as an option, especially if you’re looking for low-cost identity monitoring. Without further ado, let’s dive into the service and see if ID Watchdog is right for you!
We’ve used a whole range of identity monitoring services, so we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from ID Watchdog. If you’re not familiar with these services, there are a few things to look for. First, ID monitoring services should monitor your personal info in an effort to detect identity theft and the crimes that go along with it. A quality service will send instant alerts and guidance on what to do if (or when!) something suspicious occurs. Second, the service should offer restoration and recovery services if you happen to fall victim to identity theft. This usually includes an insurance policy that will cover you for financial losses and expenses related to identity theft. Thankfully, our ID Watchdog subscription came with monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance.
You should also know that ID Watchdog is owned by Equifax. You may have heard of Equifax — it’s the major credit reporting bureau that suffered an infamous security breach a while back.2 While this doesn’t exactly instill confidence and trust, it goes to show why a service like ID Watchdog is necessary in the first place. You never know what big breach is coming next, and early detection is critical to protect your identity and mitigate damage.
Did You Know: There are three major credit reporting bureaus that keep track of your credit score: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
We were generally impressed with what ID Watchdog had to offer. We felt that their services and features were a bit stronger on the recovery side than on monitoring, at least relative to the competition. By the way, some of the features we’ll cover might be specific to a certain ID Watchdog subscription plan, so be sure to check out our section on pricing to make sure that you sign up for a subscription with the options you want. All right, it’s time to break it down and share our experience.
We were pleased with the monitoring ID Watchdog offers, and we think it measures up pretty nicely to industry standards. As expected, ID Watchdog monitored our social security number and kept an eye on our credit score and reports. If any loans were taken out in our name, or if our credit score plummeted because a big-spender thief got a hold of our credit card info, we’d find out through an alert.
We were also covered for change-of-address monitoring and even Dark Web monitoring. It’s tough for us to know how much of the Dark Web these services are really checking. After all, the Dark Web is hard to measure and pretty much impossible to map, so we figure that no service is checking all of it. But we found that ID Watchdog’s Dark Web alerts were in line with what we’ve seen from top competitors. So overall, we think you can count on them for half-decent Dark Web monitoring.3
We weren’t sure how often ID Watchdog was actually checking in on our credit, but you’ll find that many companies are suspiciously vague on this point. That said, we were happy to see that ID Watchdog was checking in on our credit with all three major reporting bureaus (and not just with its parent company, Equifax).
Also, if you’re a healthcare worker, you’ll be glad to know that ID Watchdog monitors National Provider Identifiers (NPIs). We’re not healthcare workers, but we were impressed with this feature all the same. As you know, health care workers are counted among the heroes of modern society. Unfortunately, their identities are a prime target for fraudsters these days. Some criminals have no shame.
ID Watchdog also kept an eye on the sex offender registry list and let us know when a sex offender moved into our neighborhood. Thankfully, it didn’t happen while we had the service! We think this feature is important for families with young children, and for people who live in rural or suburban areas as opposed to densely populated metropolitan areas.
When all of this monitoring allowed ID Watchdog to spot something suspicious, we were the first to hear about it. How we received the alerts was up to us, as ID Watchdog allows for some pretty neat customizations here. For instance, we could choose to receive emails, texts, push notifications, and phone calls.
Pro Tip: National Provider Identifiers are 10-digit ID codes issued to American health care providers. These numbers are used by insurance companies, hospitals, and others.
We also liked that we could customize what ID Watchdog monitored. With an ID Watchdog subscription, you can set up your bank accounts to be monitored for large transactions, starting at any dollar amount you specify. All we had to do to enable this feature was to provide some bank account information.
We’ve noticed that most monitoring services emphasize their monitoring and alerts as the primary benefits. We sometimes even see services imply that increased monitoring can somehow prevent identity theft, which just isn’t true. The main point of these services is really to detect ID theft early so that you can shut things down (i.e. freezing your credit, canceling cards, etc!) before the problem gets out of hand. Services like ID Watchdog can also help you to recover from financial hardship after criminals strike. So we’re really looking for fast detection and recovery, not prevention.
We found that ID Watchdog was eager to promote the recovery side of its services, and that’s a good sign. On ID Watchdog’s website, and in its promotional materials, we found lots of copy about their $1 million in insurance coverage and the different recovery services offered. Again, recovery is good!
But let’s be real, we’ve tested enough of these services to know that $1 million in coverage is pretty much the industry standard. We also know that insurance policies like this always have fine print and cap the amount of cash you can get for various categories of damages. So just be sure to read through the details carefully to spot any sticking points. For example, your kids are not covered with an ID Watchdog family plan unless they live at home with you.4
FYI: There’s a lot that you can do to limit your risk of identity theft, like learning how to spot scams. But you can’t control if your bank or favorite website gets hacked, which is why we recommend that you always have identity theft insurance.
We found that ID Watchdog’s “emergency support services” and “Certified Identity Theft Recovery Team” are up to the task of helping you put a stop to ongoing fraud (by doing things like canceling credit cards and freezing your credit). As the dust settles, they’ll help you piece things back together, help you open new and secure lines of credit, claim vital insurance money, and generally help you get back to “normal.”
We usually have a pretty good idea of what we’ll get from services like this. But we always like to see little extras that go beyond the usual monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance offerings. Thankfully, ID Watchdog included a few perks that we were quite happy with, and we think you’ll like them, too.
One bonus feature was the “Lost Wallet Vault.” This section within the app allowed us to store important identifying and financial information from our wallet. That way, we could access the information quickly if our wallet was lost or stolen, which would make it much easier to cancel cards, replace identification, and so on. We don’t think this is a life-changing feature, but we do think you’ll be glad it’s there when you need it.
Pro Tip: Always know what cards are in your wallet, and try to travel light — fewer cards means fewer things to cancel and replace if you lose your wallet.5
We also liked that we could see credit reports and credit scores from all three major credit bureaus. We think that all monitoring services should offer these (if they’re looking at this stuff, why can’t we?), but not all of them do. ID Watchdog earned some points in our book by including credit reports, as well as scores, and covering all three bureaus.
We got a ton of great features out of ID Watchdog, but not all of the features we tried are available across all ID Watchdog subscription plans. So let’s take a look at the plans and pricing.
We value simplicity, so we were happy with ID Watchdog’s straightforward pricing. We had two core plans to choose from: ID Watchdog Plus and ID Watchdog Platinum. To make the jump from Plus to Platinum, we had to spend $5 more per month (on the monthly payment plan, anyway — there’s an annual payment option, too, which we’ll get to in a second). Our extra cash netted us one extra feature in Platinum that wasn’t included in Plus, but it was that one feature we really wanted: credit reports and scores.
We were impressed by both of ID Watchdog’s plans, but we think you’ll want to take a particularly close look at the Platinum plan. We think that landing the credit scores and reports is well worth the extra few bucks, especially if you’re looking to buy a house or a car anytime soon.
Here’s what the different plans will cost you:
ID Watchdog Plus: $14.95 per month OR $164.00 per year
ID Watchdog Platinum: $19.95 per month OR $219.00 per year
ID Watchdog Plus (Family): $25.95 per month OR $287.00 per year
ID Watchdog Platinum (Family): $34.95 per month OR $383.00 per year
We like the looks of these prices. Compared to many other services we’ve tried, we think the ID Watchdog plans are very affordable. We’re used to seeing prices of $25 to $35 or so for premium plans, which makes the ID Watchdog Platinum plan look pretty appealing. That said, the Plus plan isn’t as cheap as some of the budget options we’ve seen, but we think it offers nice value considering what’s included. We think that you’ll find ID Watchdog to be a good deal for the money.
You’ll notice that the annual plan is the better deal, but remember that the annual plan is paid for up-front, and you can’t get a partial or prorated refund.6 If you don’t want to spend all the cash at once, or if you think you might want to cancel halfway through the year, then the monthly plan might be the smarter choice.
We determined that ID Watchdog offers solid coverage and pretty good value. But digging into these services has taught us that having loads of features and services doesn’t necessarily make our experience better. Rather, we think it’s important that the plan is user-friendly, especially since a lot of plans today offer similar features.
We loved the thoroughness of ID Watchdog’s services, but we weren’t as impressed with the user experience. Little things about ID Watchdog’s setup were frustrating. For example, we had to enter our birthday by selecting it from a drop-down calendar. It would’ve been a bit faster if ID Watchdog had just let us type it in using the usual MM/DD/YYYY format. We know it sounds like splitting hairs, but the little things do matter to us.
It was also a little annoying to set our password. ID Watchdog has strict password requirements, which we love. But we usually see browser apps warn us when our password isn’t up to snuff. ID Watchdog let us go right ahead and hit OK. It only rejected the password after we’d tried to advance, and then it reloaded the whole darn page and made us start over.
Another time, ID Watchdog’s app seemed to crash right after we asked it to remember our computer. When we tried to log in again, ID Watchdog said we had to log out first — even though we weren’t logged in anymore. Even closing all our browsers and re-starting them didn’t fix the issue, and we just had to wait a while before we were able to log in again.
Of course, we think these are pretty small problems, but we also think that once you add them up, it makes for a less-than-stellar user experience. Just don’t be surprised if you find ID Watchdog to be a little slipshod in its design.
We thought the ID Watchdog in-browser app was fine. It was fairly functional, but it wasn’t exactly slick or modern. It reminded us of an account page that we might have found when logging into a service like this in the mid-2000s, not the 2010s or 2020s. So there’s room for improvement here. However, we were more impressed with the mobile app than with the web app. We thought the mobile app looked and felt better, and it was more in line with the standard set by the top brands we’ve tried. That’s how much we didn’t like the web app.
Getting alerts was part of our ID Watchdog experience, and we were usually glad to get them (that’s the point, after all!). But we did think that some of the emails we got were useless. Among other things, ID Watchdog sent us news round-ups of security breaches it thought that we should know about. One told us about data breaches in a hospital on the opposite coast that we’d never stepped foot in, and at the gas pumps of a grocery store chain that only exists in the Midwest (we’re not in Kansas anymore!). These alerts seemed kind of silly to us.
FYI: We recommend checking in on your identity monitoring service regularly, even if you haven’t gotten any alerts lately. Look for a service that makes your user experience a breeze.
We were happy to find that these emails stopped when we turned off “Newsletters” in ID Watchdog’s settings. So just keep that in mind. Some identity monitoring services help you avoid junk mail, and here we felt like ID Watchdog was actually filling our inbox with junk mail of their own making. This was one more minor annoyance that made us think you’ll find ID Watchdog to be a little clumsy in its user experience.
We think that ID Watchdog offers solid identity monitoring at a reasonable price. ID Watchdog covered all of our essential monitoring and recovery bases, and it only cost us $15 to $20 per month for that extra peace of mind.
But remember, we don’t think ID Watchdog measures up as well from the user experience side, so you might want to look at a competitor if sleek apps and intuitive features are really important to you. But we do think that ID Watchdog does a pretty good job of handling its core responsibilities, even if it does lack a little polish in places. We also think you’ll find that some more streamlined alternatives cost more than ID Watchdog does. So it might be awash in the end.
Put it all together and we think that you’ll find ID Watchdog falls short of some competitors, but still makes a solid budget option for identity monitoring and recovery.
Insurance Information Institute. (2020). Facts + Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime.
Equifax. (2020). Equifax Data Breach Settlement.
CNET. Reilly, C. (2017, November 29). Dark Web 101: Your guide to the badlands of the internet.
ID Watchdog. (2020). Identity Theft Insurance.
The Balance. Ledford, J. (2020, April 23). 4 Tips for Keeping Your Wallet or Purse Safe From Identity Thieves.
ID Watchdog. (2020). Identity Theft Product Comparison.