A two-fold approach to identity theft protection
Identity Theft is one of the most common forms of fraud in America, and the problem is getting worse. There are an array of ID theft protection services on the market right now — some are extremely helpful, but others can be a waste of time and money.
While IDX might seem like a new kid on the block, that’s not really the case. We’ve used the service in the past under a different name. They were formally known as MyIDCare, and for years they’ve been one of the leading providers of data breach response services for large private and public organizations including NASA, CVS, the Mayo Clinic, and United Airlines.
Now under their new moniker, IDX is putting that technology in the hands of the everyday consumer. As you’ll see, the cloud-based platform is built for agility in the face of evolving threats.
While this all sounds great on paper, how does IDX work to protect your identity? We recently put IDX’s offerings to the test, and we’re happy to report we mostly liked what we found. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, though, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons that stood out to us.
First things first, IDX coverage is actually broken up into two services, IDX Privacy and IDX Identity. At first glance, it seems like one handles the safe browsing and data protection side of things, while the other handles the credit monitoring and financial side of things. This is kind of true, but “Identity” protection actually overlaps “Privacy” protection, albeit not completely. Confused? We were too, but we’ll unpack all of that in a minute. Let’s start by going over only what’s in the Privacy plan.
The IDX Privacy plan is all about keeping you safe while browsing the internet. Most people don’t protect themselves nearly enough when participating in common online activities like shopping, browsing social media, or online banking. And this is where IDX Privacy really shines.
Let’s take a look at what the “Privacy” plan offers:
The Privacy plan is free to try for 30 days (which we always love to see), and then only $7.95 monthly after that. If you decide you really like the service, though, you can pay a one-time annual fee of $49.95 which translates to just a little over $4 per month including tax. Not bad.
We immediately thought that’s more than reasonable for what you’re getting, but we wanted to see if the protections were all they were cracked up to be. We’ve only seen these types of protections once before, with NortonLifeLock’s VPN and data broker monitoring, and we were hoping IDX services were just as good or better.
Did You Know: A VPN routes you to a server operated by the service provider. Because your traffic appears to come from the VPN’s server, your actual IP address is hidden.1
To sign up with IDX, we created our account by entering our email address and creating a password. We then provided our payment information to set up the free trial. We should point out that family ID theft protection plans are available with the service, but that understandably increases the price to $14.95 per month or $99.95 annually. We selected our individual monthly plan and moved on to the tutorial.
Now, if you’ve read our roundup of the best identity theft protection services, you know we love a good tutorial on how to use a service. The features and tech can get a little convoluted, particularly if you’re new to them. IDX’s walkthrough, though, gave us a clear understanding of how our dashboard functioned, where to find what, and helped orient us before throwing us into the proverbial deep end.
Once we worked through the tutorial, we landed on our dashboard. The first thing we were prompted to do was to add the information we wanted the CyberScan service to evaluate. We figured that was as good a place to start as any; but first, let’s talk a little bit about this protection. We think you’ll like what’s in store here.
CyberScan is one of IDX’s flagship technologies. It’s a surveillance engine that proactively searches the surface and dark web — including websites, blogs, bulletin boards, Internal Relay Chat (“IRC”) channels, and more. It actively looks for compromised personal information and triggers an alert if your data is detected.
Note that most of this activity takes place on the dark web, although some people might refer to this area as the deep web. While these terms are often used interchangeably, the reality is they refer to different areas of what is collectively known as the internet.
The “deep web” is made up of web pages that aren’t indexed by search engines. Nothing untoward there, really. The “dark web,” on the other hand, uses the public internet but requires a specific browser to access. This underbelly of the web is where stolen data is sold and traded.2
FYI: It’s estimated that 96 percent of the internet is made up of deep or dark web pages. With this in mind, it’s important to have the right safeguards in place to protect your identity.
After we opted to add data we’d like protected, we were taken over to the data center where we were able to input an impressive amount of personal information divided into different categories.
While it’s a painstaking process, it’s well worth it to take full advantage of IDX’s full suite of dark-web protection. We recommend entering everything you have to make your protections as complete as possible.
We wanted to pause here to make note of something, though. This is a little non-quantifiable, but we really appreciated IDX’s design choices, user interface, and customer experience here. Everything felt sleek and modern, and the process felt intentional. “This” logically followed “that,” which made entering our personal information a little less daunting. It’s small things like this that really add up to make a service shine.
Once we were done, the only item that kicked back an alert was our email address. This isn’t super surprising — this has happened on every single privacy service we’ve tested. With so many high-profile breaches making headlines every month, it’s almost inevitable that your email address is showing up somewhere it’s not necessarily supposed to be.3 What was surprising was the level of detail in the alerts.
Not only did IDX give us the source of the breach, it also gave us the date of when it occurred, and the number of affected accounts. This is a level of detail that few services we’ve seen get into. It also provided us with actionable information on the next steps we should take, but since these alerts were all from years ago and we’ve since changed our log-in credentials, there wasn’t much to be concerned with here.
FYI: If you spend a decent amount of time on the web and have various accounts with different services, you’re likely to find you’ll have some results here. Don’t panic. As long as they’re not recent and you’ve changed your passwords, there’s nothing to worry about.
Once that was done, we landed on our dashboard. The first thing that drew our attention was the big “57” in the right-hand corner. This was our IDX score, or our ranking out of 100 on how secure our identity was at the moment.
We’ve seen this gamified approach when we recently reviewed IdentityForce, and honestly, we love it. It’s a really helpful tool to associate a number with your level of protection and to see how the actions you’re taking improve or detract from your security posture. Get a 57 on a test in middle school, and it’s no video games for a week. Get a 97, and your parents are taking you out for chicken fingers. We’re more interested in the latter, so we clicked “I Want to Protect My Privacy.”
The first step was to set up our Forget Me Personal Data Removal. This feature prevents data brokers from mining our personal information and selling it to third-party groups and advertisers.
Setting up the data removal was easy enough; we just had to enter our name, our address, and our date of birth; the rest of the process was automated. For context — our scan turned up 74 files associated with us. Seventy. Four. How creepy is that? Honestly, we love this functionality and we wish more services offered it. If you’re a privacy-minded person, we’re sure you’ll want to take advantage of it.
Did You Know: There are hundreds of data brokers out there that aggregate your personal information gleaned from your browsing history to create an unsettlingly complete profile about your personal life, the brands you use, the health problems you have, and even your personal preferences, all without your expressed consent.
Next up was the Tracking Blocker. Keep in mind that the majority of websites today use some sort of tracking technology to collect information about their users’ behavior. Tracking Blocker is a browser extension that detects and stops these trackers from activating when you browse and limits the amount of personal information that can be collected.
Unfortunately, the extension is only available for Google Chrome and *checks notes* Microsoft Edge? We guess it’s IDX’s prerogative, but we really would have liked to see more popular browsers supported here.
Here we also found access to our Private Search function. Most popular search engines (ahem, Google) track your browsing history and other information to create profiles that are then sold to third-party advertisers. It’s a little disingenuous to call this a “service” offered by IDX, though. Really it’s just a link that searches for your terms in DuckDuckGo, a search engine that made a name for itself by not tracking any search information. We gave it a whirl and weren’t displeased by the results.
Next on the list was Social Sentry. This function helps uncover the data social media networks are mining and selling to third-party companies. Or — so it says. We gave IDX access to ours, and thankfully nothing came up.
As far as the data mining went, we let it run for a few days and nothing came back. We guess this is a good thing, but it’s always a little disconcerting when a service offers something and there’s no way of telling what it’s doing or if it’s working. To be honest, we see this a lot with sex offender monitoring and court records scans, as well. The only time we’ve seen these really work well was when we reviewed IDShield.
Next up was the Password Detective. This is a pretty cool feature that allowed us to check any password we’re using against known data breaches and password cracking systems. None of ours were found, luckily, but it’s nice to have a function where we can proactively check them from time to time.
Did You Know: The most common password belonging to breached accounts worldwide was 123456. If that’s your password, it’s well past time to update it.4
Finally, we were able to set up our VPN. Here’s a quick rundown on what that means:
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs for short, allow you to connect to the internet using a private, encrypted connection. Think of it this way, if everyone is driving from point A to point B on surface streets, you’re driving to point B through your own, personal tunnel with gates at either end that only you can open. VPNs make browsing way more secure, which is important if you work from a laptop in a coffee shop and/or a hotel room.
Setting up the VPN was simple. We selected our operating system and downloaded the installer. Once it was set up, we were off to the races on a totally protected and encrypted network.
Alright! So that wraps up IDX’s Privacy protections. We were really pleased with the depth of service and the high level of functionality. The design was great, and we felt like nearly all the services provided were actively working to keep our identity private and protected. Next, we wanted to check out their identity plans.
There are two tiers of protection to choose from here: Identity Essentials and Identity Premier. We’ll take a quick look at what you’ll get with both, but for more information, check out our IDX (formerly MyIDCare) pricing and services guide.
|Credit Report||Annual Single-Bureau||Annual Triple-Bureau|
|Unlimited Access to Restoration Experts||Yes||Yes|
|Social Security Number Monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|Instant Inquiry Alerts||No||Yes|
|Social Media Monitoring||No||Yes|
|TransUnion Credit Lock||No||Yes|
|Price||$9.95 Per Month||$19.95 Per Month|
Both tiers of protection also offer $1 million in identity theft insurance and offer the ability to extend protections to the entire family — $19.95 per month for Essentials and $39.95 for Premier.
While the Essentials plan offers some pretty decent coverage, we recommend going with Premier. The three credit bureaus don’t necessarily account for everything equally, and a problem in one file might not show up in another. If it’s not going to break the bank, we think the extra $10 per month is well worth the peace of mind knowing that the protection provided is complete. Put it this way — you wouldn’t lock your front door but keep the side door open, would you?
Did You Know: Different credit bureaus monitor different data points, and different models are used to calculate the score. That’s why there can be significant fluctuations between bureaus.5
That said, it was time to purchase the plan. Here we ran into a bit of a hiccup. Remember when we said the “Identity” plan overlaps the “Privacy” plan? Well, since we’d already created an account for our Privacy package, we weren’t able to create an Identity account using the same credentials, nor were we able to easily add an Identity subscription to our existing Privacy account. Seems like a bit of an oversight on IDX’s part, here, so we gave customer service a ring to confirm.
And yes, unfortunately, with the way IDX’s system is set up, it’s not possible to add “Identity” protection to an existing “Privacy” account. The customer service representative said there are plans to better merge the two services, but for now, if you’re looking for credit monitoring as well as privacy protection, save yourself some headache and start with an Identity Premier account right off the bat.
The major difference between the two plans is the addition of the suite of credit and financial monitoring services as well as a few additional identity theft monitoring protections. There are also a few items missing from the Identity plan that the Privacy plan provided like the VPN and the tracking blocker.
The core Privacy functionalities were still there in the Identity plan, but it’s unfortunate that IDX doesn’t yet have an all-encompassing plan that offers everything. Until such a plan comes out, we recommend going with the Identity Premier plan as it has the broadest protections.
First on the list, we had to activate the credit monitoring services by entering our personal information. Once that was done, we were able to access our credit score, our credit reports, and our instant inquiry monitoring. This last item is something we want to highlight, as it’s unique to IDX.
This service provides a real-time notification when a lender requests access to our TransUnion credit report. This is a really helpful preventative step to circumvent identity thieves before they establish any loans or lines of credit in our name. Since the alert is in real-time, we don’t have to wait to take action — we really appreciated that, but would have liked to see the service extended across all three credit monitoring bureaus.
We were also able to lock our TransUnion credit file with the click of a button. This is a fairly unique service — We saw it in our Experian IdentityWorks review, and we saw similar functionality when we reviewed IDWatchdog. However, this is something we recommend everyone does, regardless of what identity theft monitoring service they go with.
Locking your credit file is easy to do, it’s free, and it’s the best thing the average person can do to prevent identity theft. It works by preventing access to your credit files, thereby thwarting anyone who is attempting to impersonate you. We recommend keeping your credit file locked until you’re making a purchase that would require unlocking it like buying a house or a car. To learn more about how to do this, visit the three credit bureaus’ websites — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Next, we wanted to take a look at our credit report. Here, we were a little disappointed. Yes, the credit report was complete and detailed, but it was only that. Other services offer the same information, but when we reviewed Identity Guard, we found a lot more resources to help us unpack the information given in the report. We can’t show you our report since it’s all personal and identifiable information, but using IDX, it feels monolithic and mostly inaccessible.
Another disappointment was that the Social Security Number Trace didn’t feel robust as the system we saw in, say, our review of IDNotify. This is a powerful tool in detecting identity theft, and it didn’t feel as prioritized as it should have been in IDX.
Finally, there are few other items worth mentioning here, but we can’t really give a confirmed, valid review of their functionality. As part of the Identity Premier plan we had access to change of address monitoring, court records monitoring, and non-credit loan monitoring, but since there’s no way to ensure the functionality of these services, we just have to assume they are working as intended. We have no reason to believe they weren’t working, as everything else with the service seems to work great.
That about wraps up the services side of things, but one final note — IDX has a great app. Like, really great. Like, maybe one of the best we’ve seen.
All too often apps for these services are afterthoughts and basically ports of the mobile versions of their desktop dashboards. This leads to clunky navigation and an overall poor user experience. IDX does not suffer from this problem, though.
The app is well designed, the navigation makes sense, and it feels like it was conceived independently of the desktop experience. While there are obvious design elements that span both platforms for continuity’s sake, the app feels like its own thing — a rarity in this industry.
It’s rare that you find an app that works as a substitute for the desktop experience. Most of the time, these apps are vehicles to only send push notifications should suspicious activity occur. That functionality is certainly here with IDX’s app, but by providing this type of user experience, we could feasibly see someone only using the app to set up and access IDX’s various services. Major kudos to IDX, here.
In all, IDX offers a robust and complete service with its Identity Premier plan. We would have liked to see some more of the bells and whistles from the Privacy plan incorporated into the Identity plan, but it seems like that might be in the pipeline. Until then, though, IDX is still a really solid service and a great choice for anyone looking for all-around protection.
Yes, but only with their Identity Premier plan.
IDX’s Privacy plan costs $7.95 per month, it’s Essential Identity Plan costs $9.95 per month, and it’s Premier Identity Plan costs $19.95 per month.
Yes, IDX offers up to $1 million in reimbursement insurance should your identity be stolen and a team of trained experts to help resolve your case.
While its Privacy and Identity protections don’t completely overlap, the Identity Premier plan offers the core functionality of the privacy plan including advanced dark web monitoring.
Yes, it’s well-designed and highly functional.
Vigderman, A. (2020, October 18). VPN Guide. Security.org. https://www.security.org/vpn/
Sussman, B. (2018, August 15). Dark Web vs. Deep Web: What Is the Difference? Secure World. https://www.secureworldexpo.com/industry-news/dark-web-vs-deep-web
Swinhoe, D. (2020, April 17). The 15 Biggest Data Breaches of the 21st Century. CSO. https://www.csoonline.com/article/2130877/the-biggest-data-breaches-of-the-21st-century.html
Picheta, R. (2019, April 23). How Hackable is Your Password? CNN Business. https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/22/uk/most-common-passwords-scli-gbr-intl/index.html
White, A. (2020, August 31). 6 Reasons Why Your Credit Scores are Different and Which One Matters Most. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/select/why-are-my-credit-scores-different/
With a decade of experience as a journalist, Derek Prall has been covering cybersecurity for seven years. He has spent more than 1,000 hours researching digital privacy and has covered almost 100 topics related to VPN and identity theft protection. Previously, Derek has covered tech issues at American City & County magazine, where he won numerous national awards for his cybersecurity coverage. His areas of expertise included network security, big data analytics, and AI applications in public safety. Derek graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in English and Communications from Furman University and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and two cats.