Identity theft is on the rise, and smart consumers — and organizations — are looking to protect themselves and their members.
That’s why the AAA auto club has partnered with Experian to provide its members with some additional, off-road protections. Is the service worth it? We’ll get to that in this deep-dive look at ProtectMyID, but first, here are the pros and cons that jumped out to us after putting the service through a three-day-long stress test.
To really understand what ProtectMyID offers, we need to better understand what ProtectMyID actually is.
ProtectMyID is essentially the same product as another service we’ve reviewed, IDNotify, as both are powered by credit monitoring bureau Experian. However, similar to what we saw in our review of Complete ID, another Experian-based identity theft protection service available only to Costco Members, ProtectMyID is only available to AAA members. There are minor variations between the three names, but for the most part, the core functionality remains the same across the board.
If this service sounds interesting to you, but you’re not interested in becoming a AAA member to access it, you should consider the stand-alone IDNotify product. Here are IDNotify’s plans and prices if you’re curious about it.
Did You Know: AAA has been offering roadside assistance to its members for over a century, but its protections go beyond breaking down on the highway. It’s actually a federation of motor clubs and provides members with discounts, travel services, and auto shop recommendations.1
With that said, let’s delve into what ProtectMyID has to offer. We started by heading to AAA’s website and in the navigation bar, we located “ID Theft Monitoring.” From here, we were able to compare the three plans available.
We’re going to break down the costs in this chart, but head over to our ProtectMyID service and pricing breakdown for more detailed information on the different plans and monthly fees.
|Credit Report||Single-Bureau||Triple-Bureau (with payment)||Triple-Bureau (with payment)|
|Identity Theft Insurance||Up to $10,000||Up to $1,000,000||Up to $1,000,000|
|Fraud Resolution Support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social Security Number Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Dark Web Monitoring||No||Yes||Yes|
|Experian Credit Lock||No||No||Yes|
|Social Media Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Sex Offender Monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Price:||Free for AAA Members||$10.95 Per Month||$15.95 Per Month|
As you can see, there are a ton of exciting services offered here. We chose the Platinum plan for the purposes of this review so that we could get into all the bells and whistles, but the Deluxe Plan also offers pretty solid protections. If you’re a AAA member and not interested in spending any extra money on identity theft protection, though, we’d still recommend signing up for the free Essential plan — it’s certainly better than nothing.
As mentioned, we decided to go with the Platinum plan since it has the most features, and we think the $15.95 monthly price is more than reasonable for what you’re getting.
We were asked to enter our AAA membership number as well as our home zip code to confirm our selection, then we had to do one of those “select all the pictures with trees” verification tests. Finally, we were asked if we wanted to be billed on a monthly or an annual cycle. So keep in mind that if you decide to go annual, you’ll save a little over $30 per year on the Platinum plan.
Next, we had to create our account. This was simple enough — we just had to enter our personal information like our name, our address, our date of birth, and our social security number. We were also asked to enter our email address, create a password, and select a security question and response.
Now, if you’ll let us hop up on our soapbox here for a second, we’d like to say a little something about passwords. First, your password needs to be at least 8 characters long and include capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers and special punctuation. Do not use anything identifiable like children’s birthdays or the name of the service the password is for. Ideally, you’ll use a password manager to generate something completely unique and random.2
Luckily, ProtectMyID’s minimum requirements will force you to create a fairly secure password, which we really liked seeing. Just make sure you’re not using common words or phrases.
Once that was done, we only had to enter our billing information, and we were all set. No real hurdles to jump and no headaches to deal with. Kudos to ProtectMyID, here. This sign-up process was pain-free. On to setting up our services!
So after we created the account, we had to verify who we are. To do this, ProtectMyID asked a series of questions regarding our personal information including where we held mortgages, when we applied for auto loans, and which schools we graduated from. It sounds easy, but some of these questions can be a little tough. Be sure to read through all the responses completely and think before you answer.
After that, we had to enter the information we wanted ProtectMyID to monitor. Some of this was pulled from our initial account set up — other items we had to manually enter. Word to the wise — be sure you’re thorough here. You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the service, so don’t leave anything blank thinking you’ll get back to it later. We know your passport is probably in a filing cabinet somewhere, but you should get it now instead of putting it off.
We’re going to hit pause really quick to point something out. We were a little disappointed in ProtectMyID’s resources at this point. Hovering over “why monitor this?” doesn’t really provide any useful information. For each category, it simply says “We monitor your *insert piece of information here* so we can notify you if we find a match to it online.” Where online? How do you monitor it?
When we reviewed IDX and other brands, we typically found really detailed explanations of how and why things were being asked for and what was happening with the information. We think MyIDCare should offer more meaningful detail here, or just leave it off altogether.
That said, we went ahead and found our passport and entered all of our information. It’s a tedious process, but like we said, you should enter everything you have to make the most of your protections. Identity theft is insidious. You never know which pieces of your information a fraudster is using to build a fake persona that could decimate you financially.
After that was done, we were asked if we wanted to enroll any children in our protections. Included in our plan we could monitor up to 10 for no additional cost.
We don’t have any little ones of our own, but for those that do, this is an important option to consider. Although they don’t have established credit histories or financial information of their own, children are viewed by identity thieves as blank slates. What’s worse, fraud committed in children’s names often goes undetected for years.3 If you’re interested in identity theft protection for your entire family, read our guide on the best identity theft protection services for children.
Once we skipped that step, we landed on our dashboard. The first thing that popped up was a huge banner welcoming us, and asking us to complete our profile to get the most out of the service.
We’ve reviewed quite a few of these services, but we still always like it when they walk us through the setup. When you’re using a service that has a ton of features like we discovered in our hands-on NortonLifeLock review, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. So we always appreciate it when a service offers some guidance and some orientation.
Unfortunately, this was more a suggestion that we should complete our profile more than a tutorial on how that’s accomplished. Once we clicked “Complete Your Profile,” we again landed on the dashboard with no clear direction on how to proceed. This wasn’t a deal-breaker, but we think ProtectMyID should add a brief video tutorial here.
And speaking of the dashboard, we were a little underwhelmed here. It wasn’t the greatest design we’ve ever seen, but we thought it had a certain utilitarian charm to it. If we were Olympic judges, we’d give it a 5.5 for form and an 8.5 for function.
One thing to note about ProtectMyID’s dashboard is that it certainly does feel like everything you need is easily accessible, so let’s start by going through what we can immediately see.
The first two items were our notifications summary and our dark web surveillance. Right off the bat there were no notifications based on what we’d already entered for monitoring, but we expected that to change as we set up items like our sex offender and social media monitoring. Also, it takes some time for scan cycles to occur, so be sure to check back every few days. For now though, we left it alone.
Next was our Experian Credit Lock. This is a feature exclusive to ProtectMyID’s Platinum service, but we’ve seen similar functionality when we did our hands-on review of IDWatchdog. To understand this feature, though, you need to understand the difference between a credit lock and a credit freeze. We’ll break it down for you.
Both locks and freezes essentially accomplish the same thing. They prevent unauthorized individuals from applying for lines of credit or loans using your credit files by blocking all activity associated with them. Locks — like the one offered by ProtectMyID — are able to be toggled on and off in real-time, while freezes take a little more effort to set up and undo.
Now here’s the important part: This is the most effective thing you can do as an average person to prevent identity theft and fraud. We recommend everyone keep their credit files locked or frozen. To learn more about how to do that, we suggest visiting each bureaus’ websites.
All right, moving on from the credit lock feature, the next box down on the dashboard was our VantageScore tracking. To understand how this is helpful, first you have to understand what VantageScore is.
When most people think of a credit score, what they’re actually thinking about is their FICO score. FICO was a general-purpose score introduced by the Fair Isaac Corporation in 1989 to determine an individual’s creditworthiness. VantageScore, on the other hand, was developed in 2006 by the three major credit reporting bureaus. It’s calculated using a different model than the FICO score and is growing in popularity among lenders as the score of primary importance.4
Did You Know: Your VantageScore and FICO scores can vary dramatically. It’s good to keep an eye on both.
Next on the list was taking a look at our credit reports. Here’s where things got a little dicy. As expected, our Experian credit score was readily available. We’d show you, but our design guy would have to spend hours blurring out all of the personal information. Trust us when we say it was super detailed and well-organized. A quick rundown of what we could sift through included:
We were also able to set alert preferences in regard to our credit score — this is a pretty unique feature we haven’t seen offered by many other companies, and one we think would really come in handy for anyone looking to recover after financial hardship.
So, we definitely liked the Experian side of things. But what about the other two bureaus? Turns out, to see those reports and scores we’d have to pay a little extra.
Now, we’re not super happy about this. Particularly because we were told when we purchased our plan that we’d be protected by triple-bureau credit monitoring. In our experience, this means access to all three bureaus’ reports and scores.
We’re not saying it’s a fireable offense necessarily, but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re looking to get the most detailed, granular protection available.
Let’s not dwell on the negative, though, and move on to an area where ProtectMyID really shines — its identity protection services. We started by taking a look at our Dark Web Surveillance Report.
Did You Know: The deep web isn’t indexed by search engines, and the dark web is purposefully obfuscated, accessible only by certain browsers. It’s estimated that the deep and dark web combined is 500 times the size of our day-to-day surface-level internet.5
We loved the detail here, and the actionable notifications. Similar to what we saw when we tested Identity Guard, ProtectMyId provides us with plenty of information to make an appropriate decision based on the items they turned up. Lucky for us, all of the hits they found were old, and we’ve since changed all of our login information. If your report turns up something recent and you’re still using the same credentials, you should go ahead and change it ASAP.
FYI: There’s no need to panic if this report comes back with a lot of hits. With the numerous high-level breaches that have occurred over the past few years, it’s very likely bits and pieces of your information are going to show up on these types of scans.
We also really liked ProtectMyID’s social security monitoring feature. With other services, we’ve found this functionality isn’t very robust, but here we received really detailed information on how our social security number was being used, where, and by whom. There was even a map to help us visualize where ProtectMyID found pings.
Similar to ProtectMyID’s dark web monitoring, there’s no cause for alarm if there are alerts in this report. What you want to look out for are names you don’t recognize or locations that don’t make sense.
Moving on, though, we were a little disappointed in the sex offender monitoring. Like so many other identity theft solutions we’ve used, this functionality in ProtectMyId’s suite of services just didn’t seem to work correctly.
The monitoring purports to “provide a list of sex offenders living in your area, and notifies you if an offender tries to register with your identity.” Our report turned up nothing. That would be good news if we didn’t know for a fact there were several sex offenders living in our area.
If this service is extremely important to you, then we can’t recommend ProtectMyID. Instead, we recommend that you read our full review of IDShield, as they have the best sex offender monitoring we’ve seen so far.
Let’s conclude on a positive note, though. ProtectMyID does offer a really robust Education Center where you can learn all about credit scores, credit monitoring, and protecting yourself from identity theft. To be honest, this trove of resources alone was well worth the price of admission.
Credit monitoring and identity theft protection can be daunting, and it helps to have resources at our fingertips to help us understand the nuances of what exactly the service is (or isn’t) doing. Major bonus points for ProtectMyID, there.
So what’s the takeaway here? In our estimation, ProtectMyID is a great service for folks who already have AAA membership. We wouldn’t go out of our way to purchase AAA’s service just to have access to ProtectMyID — like we said, IDNotify is available to everyone — but if you’re already a AAA member, it’s certainly worth looking into.
We loved the number of features that were available under the Platinum plan, and everything worked really well for the most part. We didn’t like that we had to pay extra for our non-Experian credit reports and scores, but other than that, the protection and monitoring felt complete. In all, we’d say this is a great addition for consumers who are already protecting themselves out on the road.
No, ProtectMyID is only available to AAA members. However, IDNotify offers the same service for everyone.
ProtectMyID offers three tiers of service. As price increases, so do the number of services. The Essential package is free, the Deluxe package costs $10.95 per month, and the Platinum package costs $15.95 per month.
Yes, but with a caveat. While your Experian report is free, it costs extra to review reports from Equifax and TransUnion.
Yes, ProtectMyID monitors the dark web for a myriad of identifying elements including social security numbers, bank accounts, and addresses.
Yes, ProtectMyID offers up to $10,000 in identity theft insurance for essential members and up to $1,000,000 for Deluxe and Platinum Members.
Rossi, A. (2018, August 24). 12 AAA Travel Benefits You Probably Never Considered. Smarter Travel.
Empey, C. (2018, August 15). How to Create a Strong Password. Avast Blog.
Berman, J. (2019, December 3). Yes, Your Child Needs ID Theft Protection. Forbes.
Bryant, S. (2020, October 10). What you should know about the VantageScore 3.0 credit scoring model. Credit Karma.
Peek, K. (2015, April 1). Most Of The Web Is Invisible To Google. Here’s What It Contains. Popular Science.
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.