Identity theft is a major problem, and as more of our lives are lived in digital spaces, it’s growing worse. Victims of identity theft and fraud can spend a lot of money and countless hours recovering — that is if they aren’t protected.
We’re seeing more and more people looking to identity theft monitoring and prevention companies to keep themselves protected. While some are certainly better than others, there are plenty of services out there to shield you from a complex threat landscape. IDnotify is one of them.
While they might not have the name recognition of a LifeLock or an Identity Guard, IDnotify isn’t a service to sleep on. Trust us, we tested their premium plan inside and out, and we think you’ll like what we found. But before we start unpacking the service and detailing each element, let’s first take a quick look at the pros and cons.
IDnotify is a service provided by Experian, one of the big three credit monitoring agencies. Right off the bat, that gave us some peace of mind that the service is backed with such authority. While some argue that purchasing an identity theft monitoring solution directly from a credit monitoring bureau might not be the best decision, we tend to disagree. These are the experts closest to the problem, and we think that experience counts.
IDnotify offers three protection plans, and on their homepage we were given a really clear description of what each service tier offered. Have a look at our breakdown below.
|Credit Monitoring||No||Experian||Experian, Equifax, TransUnion|
|Annual Credit Report||No||Experian and VantageScore||VantageScore, Experian, Equifax, TransUnion|
|Monthly Credit Snapshot||No||No||Yes|
|Real Time Credit Alerts||No||No||Yes|
|Sex Offender Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Social Network Monitoring||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Change of Address Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Court Record Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Payday Loan Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Lost Wallet Services||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Identity Theft Insurance||No||Yes||Yes|
|Family Plan||$10 Per Month||$10 Family Protection or +$5 Per Child||$10 Family Protection or +$5 Per Child|
Worth noting — as is the case with most higher-tier services, IDnotify offers both family and individual plans. If you’re interested in protecting more than just yourself, take a look at our best identity theft protection services for families, and our roundup of best coverage for children.
We wanted to go with the works, so we chose the Premier plan. On the first page, we entered some basic information to set up our account. Name, address, date of birth and social security number — you know, standard fare. Then, we created our account by entering our email address, selecting a password and a security question.
Pro Tip: To make security questions even more secure from fraudsters, we recommend lying on your answer — ideally with a string of random letters and numbers. The name of the street you grew up on? Xkaey3_0124. Keep these answers in a secure place, or use a password manager.1
Finally, we entered our billing information. We were a little disappointed that IDnotify didn’t offer a free trial. Most of the more robust services like IDShield do, and we always appreciate the opportunity to try before we buy. Not a dealbreaker, but it’s worth pointing out that you’re going to have to commit once you hit “submit.”
For the next step in the process, IDnotifiy had to verify our identity. We didn’t have to do anything here; their system went through all of our personal information making sure we dotted our Is and crossed our Ts. After their servers whizzed and processed our info for about 30 seconds or so, we reached the final step, adding our monitored information.
We could get pretty granular here, which we appreciated, but there weren’t any items that stood out as being super unique. We did like the “why monitor this” tabs for each item, though. We always like to see explanations of “why” and “how” in these services. It’s the journalist in us, we guess.
It might take a while to gather all the necessary information, but doing this work on the front end will save a whole lot of headaches on the back end should you become the victim of fraud. And you’re paying for the service, so you might as well take advantage of all it has to offer.
Something to note — this is super nitpicky, but we were the tiniest bit annoyed that we had to click the “click to save for monitoring” button twice in each element. Once to exit the edit field, and once to actually save our information. It’s not a huge deal at all, but these little moments where the refinement of the user experience comes up short stick out to us — particularly with a service where there are no major issues to report.
After we had entered all the information we wanted to IDnotify to monitor, we were then directed to our Dashboard. Here we were able to see our notifications summary, the items IDnotify was monitoring, and — hey — here’s something new, a Risk Analytics section. We were able to see the total number of notifications sent to U.S. subscribers in the past 60 days, and notifications broken down by our geographic location. We’re not sure about the utility of this function — there’s no real actionable information here — but it’s pretty interesting nonetheless.
Did You Know: Michigan is the worst state for identity theft, followed by Florida and Califorina.2
All right — so the first thing we wanted to do was take a look at our notifications. Three items were waiting for us: a credit report, a social security number trace report, and an internet surveillance report.
These weren’t alerts in the sense that IDnotify had found suspicious activity, these were just monitoring reports. And whew, were they detailed. Let’s go through them one by one so that you can know what to expect.
The first was our credit report. Obviously, there’s a lot of sensitive information in here, so we’re not going to be able to show it to you, but this is seriously the most detailed report we’ve seen to date. Here — take a look at the options we could drill down into:
Now, we will say if you’re not well versed in the language of these things, it can be a little daunting to unpack everything. Unfortunately IDnotify missed an opportunity here to really knock it out of the park — there’s no real support section to speak of, and the FAQs, while helpful, don’t do much to explain what the layperson is looking at. Our advice? Google is your friend. We also have a thorough guide on exactly what to look for in an ID theft protection service.
Next, we had our Social Security Number Trace report. Here we found multiple alerts of aliases and addresses that were associated with our social security number in public records, and a map to show us where these aliases and addresses were located. First-time users might get a little freaked out by this, but don’t worry — there’s no cause for alarm unless you see an address or a name you’re not familiar with. We’ve lived in all of the places IDnotify turned up, and there weren’t names we didn’t recognize, so we were all good.
Here the FAQ section was a little more robust and gave us information that would be helpful if the trace turned up alerts we didn’t recognize.
Pro Tip: It’s not uncommon to see different names on your report due to marriage, joint credit accounts, or nicknames you may have used like Mike for Michael. It’s also not uncommon for address history that’s more than five years old to contain errors. You should be concerned if the errors are more recent, or if there are names you don’t recognize here.
We were also surprised by how detailed the reports here were, and we appreciated that they included actionable information. Not only did IDnotify alert us to a potential problem, but they also gave us potential solutions. Bonus points there!
Finally, we took a look at our internet surveillance report. Here we found notifications regarding the information we provided IDnotify for monitoring when we were setting up our account. Luckily there was nothing too major here — just compromised email address notifications. While this might sound like a big deal — it’s to be expected. The dark web is a trove of often illegally obtained data, and there have been so many major breaches that pretty much everyone’s information is there in some form or fashion.3
What’s important here is that you’ve changed your password since the latest alert. Our most recent alert was from 2019, so we assume we’re in the clear.
Two things to note here. First, we weren’t super jazzed about the lack of information on the alert itself. Some services we’ve seen told us the site from which the breach originated, which is helpful information to have when making better choices in browsing habits.
The second has to do with passwords. There are a few schools of thought when it comes to password security. The old vanguard of cybersecurity professionals will tell you it’s best to change your password at regular intervals — usually once every few months. That was well and good back in the early days of the internet when folks had one, maybe two passwords total. Nowadays everything from your bank account to your pizza delivery place’s account is password protected. To save yourself some headache, we recommend using a password manager.4
So now that our notifications were addressed, we could turn our attention to the additional features of IDnotify — the bells and whistles that were included with our premium membership.
First on the list is our credit summary. This is a pretty detailed snapshot of the factors that determine our Experian credit score. Obviously, these are a little personal, but we can show you the items in the summary.
This is a pretty useful tool, and we can see how it would be helpful for a person looking to establish better credit or rebuild after a financial hardship.
Next we took a look at the VantageScore Simulator.
The VantageScore Simulator is a pretty unique offering — we’ve only ever seen it once before with IdentityForce — but we really like it. This functionality is especially helpful if you’re looking to improve your credit. We could play around with loan amounts and see what would happen to our score if we did things like declare bankruptcy or foreclose on our home. Not shockingly, it would really negatively impact our score. Here’s a tip — if you can, don’t do either of those things.
FYI: There are different kinds of bankruptcy, and each will affect your credit in different ways. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect a bankruptcy to negatively impact your credit score for several years.5
So that’s it for the credit portion of IDnotify. Overall, we were super happy with the level of detail here and the tools we were provided. Next up was our identity protection services. Let’s go through each item one by one.
Under Change of Address Monitoring, we could take a look at our report. Good thing for us, there was nothing here. This function monitors changes in address that have been processed through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Note — it does not monitor changes with UPS or FedEx-only addresses or private mailboxes.
If we did see something here, IDnotify says it’s not necessarily a problem — more than likely it’s just an error. However, they still recommend speaking with one of their specialists if an address shows up that you don’t recognize. So this is something to keep in mind.
Next up was Court Record and Bookings Monitoring. Again, nothing turned up here which is good news. However, this was a little surprising given our affinity for punk rock back in the day. Luckily, in the FAQ section, IDnotify explained why nothing turned up.
Good news! Again — we want to commend IDnotify here for giving us all the information we need to feel comfortable. We don’t typically see this from the average ID theft protection service out there.
Next up was our Financial Account Takeover monitoring. This function checks our personal information against hundreds of financial institutions for activity that may indicate possible account takeover every day. Really good thing nothing turned up here.
This service is important because if an identity thief gains access to an account or card, sometimes they take a while before they make a fraudulent transaction, and it can be even longer before that act is reported to collections and appears on your credit report.
We already covered our Internet Surveillance report when we took a look at our initial alerts, so we’ll skip over that and move on to our non-credit loan monitoring. Once again, we were happy to see nothing turned up here, but this is the first time we’ve seen this specific service, so we were curious about what it did. Once again, IDnotify’s resources cleared up the ambiguity.
In a nutshell, non-credit loans include payday and quick-cash loans that don’t require a credit inquiry or social security number to secure. This monitoring would notify us if a loan of this type was opened using our identity (our name, address, or driver’s license number).
On to Sex Offender Monitoring. Here’s where we had our first moment of doubt with IDnotify. Here we were told that the service “provides a report of all registered sex offenders living within your immediate area, and notifies you when a new sex offender is added.” That’s great and all, but it also told us it didn’t find any matches.
Unfortunately, we know that’s not the case. Using a different service, we’ve discovered a handful of registered sex offenders in our immediate area.
Because of this, we can’t recommend IDnotiy’s sex offender monitoring service. But again, this is just one monitoring feature in IDnotify’s feature-set.
Next on the list was Social Media Monitoring. This was kind of a mixed bag, too. We really liked the “dos and don’ts” they provided us with. We don’t always see social media monitoring with other brands, so it’s always a nice bonus for us.
However, once we linked our accounts, we were told there were no hits. When we’ve used these services in the past, like with MyIDCare, we had at least a few items pop up. Also — we were never really told what IDnotify was specifically monitoring for beyond “privacy or reputation risks.” Take that for what it’s worth.
FYI: Most social media monitoring services scour social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram looking for instances where your reputation might be compromised by others, or even by your own posting habits. It’s a nice reminder to clean up any “colorful” language.
The last item was our Social Security Number Trace which we already had a look at when we first reviewed our alerts. So that’s that!
Next in our navigation bar was the support section. Not a whole lot to report here — this is simply where we received information about what we should do if we suspect we’ve become the victim of identity theft. IDnotify’s specialists can help us through the process including:
This is pretty standard with such services, but it’s comforting to know that if we get into trouble, IDnotify has our backs.
In this section, we also found the Lost Wallet services where we could save digital records of the important information we carry with us like credit cards and identification. Should we misplace these items, the team at IDnotify will help us re-issue them. Pretty slick!
The last thing to mention is the IDnotify Tips section. Here we found a pretty robust list of educational resources on everything from spotting the warning signs of identity theft to safely using public WiFi networks. We’ve said it a few times already, but it’s worth repeating: we can really get on-board with IDnotify’s commitment to walking us through processes, telling us how and why things work, and educating us on risky behaviors and bad practices. Seriously, if you chose to go with IDnotify, spend some time here. You won’t regret it.
So there you have it! That’s the desktop experience of IDnotify in a nutshell. Let’s take a moment, though, to talk about the app.
So the app isn’t bad. Like we saw with ID Watchdog, it’s essentially just a mobile version of the website. We would have liked to see a little more attention put into the app, but it’s certainly functional. The user experience is similar here to the desktop experience, and everything available on the site is available on the app. It’s not the best we’ve seen, but it’s also not the worst. “Meh” would be the right word.
Overall, we were really pleased with IDnotify. While the price is a little high, the protections felt robust and complete — we definitely felt like we were getting a lot of bang for our buck. Despite the hiccups with the social media and sex offender monitoring, we were confident in the service, and we feel confident recommending it to you.
But if you feel like IDnotify doesn’t suit you, we definitely recommend shopping around by reading our best identity theft protection guide. In this guide you’ll find our roundup of the top-rated services we’ve used this year.
For individuals, IDnotify’s Essential plan costs 9.99 per month, Select plans cost $17.99 per month, and Premier plans cost $25.99 per month.
Yes, but only the Premier plan offers three-bureau credit monitoring.
Yes, IDnotify will protect family members for an additional $10 per month with the Select and Premier plans, and children can be covered for an additional $5 monthly.
Yes, but the app is essentially a mobile version of the website.
Yes, IDnotify has a team of experts to help restore your identity, and your subscription includes insurance to cover up to $1 million in recovery costs.
Newman, L. (2016, September 29). Time to Kill Security Questions — or Answer Them With Lies. Wired. https://www.wired.com/2016/09/time-kill-security-questions-answer-lies/
Whiteman, D. (2020, April 17). Identity Theft Rates by State. MoneyWise.
Gucclone, D. (2020, March 5.) What is the Dark Web? How to access it and what you'll find. CSO. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3249765/what-is-the-dark-web-how-to-access-it-and-what-youll-find.html
Hoffman, C. (2020, July 10). Why You Should Use a Password Manager, and How to Get Started. How-To-Geek. https://www.howtogeek.com/141500/why-you-should-use-a-password-manager-and-how-to-get-started/
Lazarony, L. (2020, March 10). What Happens to Your Credit Score After Bankruptcy? Credit. https://www.credit.com/credit-scores/3-things-bankruptcy-does-to-your-credit-score/