We recently got our hands on PrivacyGuard, a popular identity theft monitoring service. We found that they offer pretty much everything we look for in an identity monitoring plan. We enjoyed the peace of mind we had with their monitoring, alerts, recovery services, and insurance coverage. There’s actually a good amount of value with PrivacyGuard.
But we have to say, it wasn’t a bulletproof plan. We have a few complaints you should know about, including the lack of a family plan and mixed user reviews. These seemingly small details can separate the best services from the not-so-hot plans. But don’t worry, we’ll lay out everything we liked (and didn’t like!) in this in-depth PrivacyGuard review. So let’s get to it.
We take the threat of identity theft very seriously, which is why we recommend you get yourself an identity protection service like PrivacyGuard. Now, we don’t expect it to catch fraudsters in the act — that’s not what these services do. But PrivacyGuard can monitor your identity and alert you of any suspicious activity, allowing you to jump into action to mitigate financial loss and other damage.
Also, services like this can help you to recover from a devastating identity crime. After all, there are lots to think about in the wake of identity theft. So you won’t have to handle every identity recovery step on your own (like canceling credit cards, getting new IDs, etc.) if you sign up with a monitoring plan.
There might even be an insurance payout, as ID theft protection services typically offer insurance coverage — to the tune of $1 million. In many ways, PrivacyGuard is your typical identity protection service; but it’s not your only option. So let’s dig in to find out if it’s one of the best identity theft protection services on the market today.
We briefly mentioned the services and features we look for in a plan. And sure, PrivacyGuard does check all of the boxes. But the question remains: does it offer anything that the competitors don’t? So we peeled back the layers during testing to see what PrivacyGuard did better (or at least differently) than the other guys. Here’s what we found.
We’re always on the lookout for social security number monitoring and credit monitoring — two features that are almost non-negotiable for us. It’s no secret that if our social security number falls into the hands of a crook, bad things can happen. And if identity theft does occur, it’ll probably make a dent in our credit. That’s why social security number monitoring and credit monitoring are two key features we look for. Thankfully, we found both with PrivacyGuard.
Did You Know: If your sensitive information is stolen, a criminal can take out a loan in your name, which can trigger a credit check. And if the loan were approved, it would lower your credit score.
With PrivacyGuard, we had 24/7 credit monitoring for all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). We liked this, and we think you will, too. There’s always a chance that something important goes to one bureau or another, instead of all three — so we always prefer to have all three bureaus covered. That way, a fraudster is less likely to sneak through the cracks.
We also had PrivacyGuard on the lookout for our social security number. They checked for our SSN (and other key pieces of information) on the internet, including the Dark Web, which is the notorious underworld of the internet as we know it.
FYI: The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web, which means it’s not indexed by search engines like Google. Many Deep Web sites are harmless, but some are bad news. A lot of these bad sites are found on the Dark Web, which crooks use a special browser to access. Browsing the Deep and Dark Web is super-private compared to the “Surface” Web and safe Deep Web that we’re familiar with. This appeals to privacy buffs — but also to criminals.1
PrivacyGuard gave us more than just the basics. We had monitoring for credit and debit cards, bank accounts, public records, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, ID cards, sex offender registries, and important documents. We liked that we could go in and manually add bank accounts and other details to be monitored.
We’ve seen some reviewers complain that PrivacyGuard doesn’t offer a family plan. It’s true that you can’t cover two adults with one plan (you’ll need two separate plans), but we found that some so-called experts were wrong on child monitoring. PrivacyGuard does provide protection for up to ten children (that’s a lot of kids!). Child identity theft is pretty rare, but you should know that it does happen.2 And if left unchecked, crooks can really make a mess of your child’s credit and future. So we think it’s better to take precautions just in case.
We found PrivacyGuard’s monitoring coverage to be pretty solid. However, we did see some mixed customer reviews. One review that caught our attention claimed that PrivacyGuard missed risks and fraud. We can’t verify individual customer reviews, but we can tell you about our experience with alerts and reports.
If PrivacyGuard spotted anything suspicious going on with our data, they’d notify us with an instant alert. We really liked being able to customize these alerts, too. We were able to get alerts by phone or email (we prefer email), and then there’s the option of customizing the settings for all sorts of individual alerts. If you’re anything like us, you’ll appreciate how PrivacyGuard lets you fine-tune alert settings.
Thankfully, we didn’t get that many alerts from PrivacyGuard, but we did receive some outdated alerts for non-threatening issues. For instance, they sent us an email alert about a social security number issue, but the issue was that our social security number was connected to our home in our credit history back in 2017, which was several years ago. No reason to worry, right? Right.
FYI: We really don’t like when services pester us with random alerts. But on the other hand, we like to stay up-to-date. It’s a tricky balance, and we think PrivacyGuard is still a little wobbly here.
PrivacyGuard also didn’t alert us to breaches that affected our email address or other data around 2015 and 2016. We know that these issues should’ve been flagged, as other services have flagged them for us. Maybe PrivacyGuard found them and decided they weren’t recent enough to warrant an alert. But we’d rather have seen those things than a non-issue from 2017.
It’s always tough to say just how well services monitor our good name, as we don’t know the full scope of the threats that lurk out there. But compared to the many services we’ve tried, we felt reassured with PrivacyGuard, and we think you will, too. That said, we also think you’ll enjoy the more aggressive reporting that other brands offer.
We consider monitoring to be extremely important. But monitoring doesn’t actually prevent identity theft. Really, nothing can — you can do a lot to limit your identity theft risk, but you can never totally eliminate it. That’s why we also look for recovery solutions and insurance policies from the services we try. We were happy to see that PrivacyGuard offers plenty of both.
If someone stole our identity while we were PrivacyGuard customers, we’d be able to call them and get immediate help protecting our assets and putting our lives back together. With PrivacyGuard, we were promised a “dedicated fraud resolution agent” to handle our case. That’s peace of mind in our book.
We hope you never experience identity theft; but if you do, you’ll want an expert on your side to help tackle the countless steps to recovery. You’ll have to report the incident to the police and to financial institutions. You’ll have to freeze your credit. And you’ll have to cancel and replace all kinds of credit and bank cards. And that’s not even the full list!3 We were satisfied with what PrivacyGuard offered in terms of recovery services.
Now, if you were to fall victim to identity theft, you’d also need some cash to cover your losses and expenses. So we were happy to see that PrivacyGuard met the industry standard for insurance coverage. We’ve found that pretty much every service like this offers $1 million in insurance coverage. And PrivacyGuard fits right in with a $1 million policy of its own.
We think you’ll really like having a safety net just in case identity theft strikes. But note that there are caps on the money by category. With PrivacyGuard (and its competitors), you can get up to $1 million covered in total, but that doesn’t mean that you can use the money however you please. You can only get so much money covered for accountants, so much for attorneys, and so on. Again, we’ve found this to be typical. PrivacyGuard nails the industry standard here as well.
Sometimes, ID theft monitoring services only offer one credit report a year. So we were pretty impressed that PrivacyGuard offered us credit reports and scores from all three major bureaus every single month. To us, this is a big deal.
Sure, the credit monitoring is really all we need for protection; but we also enjoy checking out our scores for ourselves. Keeping tabs on your credit score can be a great thing for your personal finances — especially if you’re looking to make a big move like taking out a home mortgage loan. PrivacyGuard will display your monthly scores on a graph, which is actually pretty neat. But keep in mind that only scores you get through PrivacyGuard are included, so it might take a while to build a useful graph. Still, we liked this credit score-tracking feature, and we think you will, too.
Pro Tip: Your credit score matters! Keep yours healthy by paying your bills on time and keeping your debt at responsible levels. To improve your score, try to keep your credit use down — don’t max out your credit cards, and you should try to use less than a third or so of your available credit.4
We also appreciated that PrivacyGuard gave us a risk rating and a rundown of our vulnerabilities. In the web app, we could see at-a-glance if we were in particular danger of having our identity stolen. No matter your risk levels, you should think proactively about what you can do to lower your identity theft risk.
The PrivacyGuard web app also has a “Support Center” that offers quite a few helpful links. We do think the basic information on credit scores, credit history, identity theft, and other issues can be a big help to you. Of course, you can learn about these things without signing up for PrivacyGuard — you can even read about identity theft right here — but we still believe that PrivacyGuard’s Support Center is a nice little perk for subscribers. It was for us, anyhow.
All things considered, we actually found PrivacyGuard’s pricing to be pretty standard. It’s not the cheapest option, but the service offers decent value for what you pay. Here’s a roundup of the different plans you can choose from.
PrivacyGuard Identity Protection costs $9.99 per month and offers basic but helpful features like:
PrivacyGuard Credit Protection runs $19.99 per month and offers the following features:
PrivacyGuard Total Protection costs $24.99 per month, and in our experience, it offers the most bang for your buck:
From what we’ve seen, these prices are standard and reasonable, but you’ll find better-than-average value in certain categories. For instance, we were particularly impressed with how many credit reports we got for our money. We’ve seen services at this price point offer just one credit report per year, which is kind of a rip off. Remember, with PrivacyGuard we get both reports and scores from all three bureaus every single month. We think that’s pretty good for the price.
Any way you slice it, the ‘Identity Protection’ package is downright cheap at $9.99 per month. But here’s the thing — we tend not to recommend services that don’t include credit monitoring. Now if for some reason you want to focus on social security number monitoring and recovery, we think it’s still a decent option. It reminded us of Zander Insurance, which also has cheap recovery features and social security number monitoring, without the credit monitoring.
Since ‘Credit Protection’ is missing the ‘Identity Protection’ features and vice versa, we were most interested in the ‘Total Protection’ plan. We think that this one is a reasonable deal at $24.99 per month. It’s a bit pricey compared to other brands we’ve tested, but it’s not overpriced. We do think that the frequency of credit reports and scores makes the higher fees a little more palatable.
PrivacyGuard didn’t give us a free trial, but it did offer us 14 days of coverage for only $1. So if you can spare some couch cushion change, we think this is the next best thing to a free trial option.
PrivacyGuard lost some ground with us early in the process. To authenticate our account, they asked us questions about our private data. We see this all the time from ID theft protection services and credit reporting bureaus. The problem is, PrivacyGuard seemed to have the wrong data/answers to some questions. And, thinking we answered incorrectly, they refused to enroll us until we called their number! Luckily, this happened on a weekday during the day — as reps aren’t available at night or on Sundays. So this is something to bear in mind.
The good news is that we had a pleasant customer service experience and managed to authenticate our account after a five-minute conversation. We didn’t enjoy the extra step, but we were glad that PrivacyGuard took their own security seriously, and we were happy with the customer service we received.
As far as PrivacyGuard’s web app goes, well, we liked it (for the most part). It was fairly well-organized and easy to use. The design was simple, but we found it pretty easy to navigate and easy on the eyes.
One thing we really liked about using PrivacyGuard was how the service presented our credit information. We appreciate when ID theft monitoring services combine personal finance coaching into their credit monitoring options. In our experience, PrivacyGuard’s graphs and tips really added value.
However, we weren’t very impressed by PrivacyGuard’s mobile app. For starters, it was tricky to find, as it doesn’t have “PrivacyGuard” in its name. This was strange and a little frustrating, to be honest. We eventually found the app, which was called ‘Digital Protection.’
One thing to note is that we needed our membership number to get into the mobile app. We’re not sure why we couldn’t just login with the same credentials we used with the web app. Perhaps PrivacyGuard is one step ahead of us when it comes to security? Or… perhaps they could use some help in the user-experience department.
Once we were in the mobile app, we found a very simple interface with three options: a secure browser, a secure keyboard, and the data monitoring dashboard. Oddly, the app didn’t look anything like the one that PrivacyGuard advertises on its website.
The app included a “secure browser,” which opened right inside the app. We think this will be a tough sell for most people. You’re probably going to keep using Safari or Chrome on your mobile devices, and we can’t really blame you (after all, humans are creatures of habit!). We found browsing in the app to be a little clunky and unnecessary.
The app also included a secure keyboard for our mobile device. PrivacyGuard told us that this keyboard would encrypt our keystrokes to fight malware. If it’s true, we think it’s a nice touch, and not something we see very often.
Beware: What you type isn’t always private. Some crooks use keystroke loggers, a type of malware, to spy on your typing.5 We recommend you use antivirus software to stay a step ahead of malware. Some identity monitoring services, such as Norton 360 with LifeLock, include antivirus services.
But again, what we really cared about was the identity monitoring features. We wanted to be able to get push notifications and check alerts right in our app. To get to the dashboard part of the app, we had to log in. Once in the dashboard view, we could do pretty much all of the same things as in the web app. We didn’t love the experience, though. It felt like we had just loaded the web app in a mobile browser — which, actually, is pretty much what we had done.
We would have liked a true mobile-app design. We also think you’ll find the mobile app to be a little slow. Now, don’t get us wrong, the PrivacyGuard mobile app isn’t terrible, but we don’t think there’s plenty of room for improvement here.
PrivacyGuard offers the core monitoring, recovery, and insurance features that we expect from ID theft protection brands. But… is it the best service of its kind?
Not really. But we did like that PrivacyGuard gave us so many credit reports and scores. Credit scores from every bureau, every month, is certainly more than we’re used to getting. And we thought this part of the service was pretty refreshing.
But we think that PrivacyGuard fails to measure up in some other key areas. And we don’t think it’s as powerful as our favorite identity protection services. Since some of the very best identity monitoring plans we’ve tried cost about the same as PrivacyGuard, we’d suggest taking a look at top competitors like Identity Guard and IdentityForce.
ZDNet. Patterson, D. (2016, September 1). How the Dark Web Works.
CNBC. Grant, Kelli B. (2018, April 24). Identity Theft Isn’t Just an Adult Problem. Kids are Victims, Too.
Federal Trade Commission. Accessed May 14, 2020. Identity Theft Recovery Steps.
Debt.org. Fay, B. Accessed May 14, 2020. How to Raise Your Credit Score.
CSO Online. Swinhoe, D. (2018, December 11). What is a keylogger? How attackers can monitor everything you type.