Utilitarian, no-frills service for a rock-bottom price
Did you know that 9 million Americans experience identity theft every year?1 It’s true, that’s why it’s so important that you’re proactive about protecting yourself. As our lives increasingly become more digitized, our most sensitive information is at risk like never before.
And trust us, there are many services out there claiming to protect your identity — some are great, some are not so great — and all of them will cost you. Some of these can run hundreds of dollars per month to protect a whole family, but do you really need to spend that much? Definitely not!
So we spent a few days taking a look at one of the most inexpensive identity theft protection services out there — Zander. At only $6.75 per month, it’s way more affordable than many of the services on the market. For example, a more comprehensive plan like IdentityForce with Credit Monitoring will cost you $23.99 per month, and LifeLock goes for around $30 per month.
Have a look at the latest Zander plans and pricing here. We like that they have affordable options for both individuals and families.
|Proactive Monitoring and Alerts||Yes||Yes|
|Identity Theft Restoration||Yes||Yes|
|$1 Million in Reimbursements||Yes||Yes|
Did You Know: Zander doesn’t only offer identity theft solutions; they are actually an insurance company founded in 1925 and named for their founder, Herman Zander.
While it’s great news for our bank account, the price point had us a little skeptical. Would the quality of service suffer? While it’s certainly a bare-bones service, we were happy to report that for the most part, Zander got the job done where it counts. But before we go through Zander in complete detail, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons.
So now that you have a better idea of what we’re dealing with, let’s get a closer look at Zander.
One of their big selling points is that the service is endorsed by Dave Ramsey, and let’s just say he’s prominent on their site. Ramsey has made a name for himself in the finance world, hosts a popular radio program, and has authored many books and articles on managing money and eliminating debt. We think it’s a little odd that Zander leans so heavily on his name, but hey — we guess having Ramsey associated with identity theft prevention sort of makes sense in a roundabout way.
Here’s what we saw the moment we landed on their site…
On Zander’s home page, one of the first things you can do is click “what does Dave recommend?” to get some information on Zander’s services. The first category is credit monitoring, which Zander explicitly doesn’t do.
They say Ramsey recommends not wasting money on plans that focus on credit monitoring since it only detects 21 percent of identity theft events. They reason that by the time fraud is detected by credit monitoring, the damage is already done. We don’t exactly agree with that, since we know that changes in credit can be a tell-tale sign (or red flag!) of ongoing fraud. But we see Zander’s point that it’s not wise to rely on credit monitoring alone.
Pro Tip: It’s wise to explore your options, and a good starting point is our buyer’s guide. We highlight the important things to consider when considering an identity theft protection plan for yourself or your family.
In this section, Ramsey also highlights Zander’s ability to protect children. Kids are “clean slates” to ID thieves since they have no established credit or debt history. Their information can be stolen early on in life, and not show up for years until it’s time to open a bank account or rent their first apartment. With no kids and no plans to have any, this isn’t a concern for our family, but for those looking to expand, this is a very important consideration. So if you’re looking to secure your family, take a look at our best services guide.
We were also able to “ask Dave a question” in this section, so of course we did. Still no response from the guru himself, but to be honest we weren’t super optimistic that he’d get back to us. There’s also a weird section called “Dave on TV” that’s conspicuously blank.
While you might think this is a little nitpicky, oversights like this can be indicative of corners cut in other aspects of a services’ offerings — particularly when this is on the main section of the site where we’re supposed to sign up. Mistakes like this happen, of course, but they don’t really inspire confidence.
Did You Know: Dave Ramsey’s radio show is listened to by over 14 million people weekly, and it’s available on nearly 600 channels.
With that said, we then scrolled down and got the quick punch-list highlights of what Zander offers. They lead with expert recovery services, saying their team of certified recovery specialists will handle the labor of getting the house back in order with white-glove service should our identity be stolen, along with up to $1,000,000 in reimbursement of stolen funds and associated costs. We definitely like to see that, but note that $1 million in reimbursements is the industry average these days.
Great, but what are the preventative measures to keep us from needing to cash in on reimbursements? Well, the next thing on the list is “proactive monitoring and alerts,” which notify us of unforeseen changes or unusual activity, saying they monitor and protect against all types of identity theft including financial fraud, medical ID theft, tax fraud, criminal ID theft, social security fraud, child ID theft, benefits and employment fraud, home title fraud, and more. In our experience, that’s quite the feature stack for the price.
We selected the individual plan, which only costs $6.75 per month (!!!). Remember, we’re used to paying between $10-$30 per month for identity theft protection.
After entering some quick personal information and our credit card info, we had our account set up. While they don’t offer a free trial like IDShield, the service itself is so cheap that we can forgive that pretty easily.
We then landed on a screen which provided us with our membership number. We were told here that we’d need the number later in the activation process, but we didn’t really find that to be the case. Just to be safe, though, it’s probably a good idea to jot it down and save it with your other important documents. Please please please, though, don’t just save all your account numbers and passwords to a word doc and save it on your desktop (the wife does this and it drives me crazy).
On the next screen, we entered our social security number, set up a user ID and password, and set a security question. So far, so easy.
Since we’re kind of nuts about security (after all, this is what we do for a living) we always like to choose the most obscure question and answer it outrageously and untruthfully. Someone with access to our personal information will likely know or be able to find out the name of the street we grew up on, but they’ll have no idea we said our mother’s best friend is a cask-maker. The drawback to this practice — of course — is that you have to remember the lie, but we’ve found the more absurd you make it, the easier it is to recall. We’re not alone, either — lots of other security experts recommend this practice.2
Moving right along…
After we got down off of our security-question soapbox, we were prompted to enter additional information we wanted Zander to monitor. This included financial information like bank accounts and credit card numbers, as well as personal information like our driver’s license and passport information. Gathering up and entering everything is a little tedious, but we’d like to point out that Zander’s interface made it a relatively simple process with intuitive steps forward.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that there’s not a whole lot of explanation of the “why” here. We really loved that IdentityForce — one of our top picks for ID theft protection— gave us really detailed information and educational resources on the different types of monitoring performed (you can read our hands-on review of IdentityForce here). But we didn’t love so much that Zander’s explanations really only amounted to “we monitor this so we can notify you if we see it online.
No mention of where they are monitoring, or how. This was a little disappointing, but as long as they’re getting the job done, we can’t really cry foul.
After we’d gone through the set-up process, we were directed to our dashboard, which we have to say was a little underwhelming. Here we saw a notifications tab at the top and the information that was being monitored at the bottom. The first thing we saw was we had several notifications regarding our email address, so we definitely wanted to check that out.
Turns out a lot of these were from ages ago, and the most recent one — April 2020 — wasn’t too concerning. In our experience, this kind of stuff is pretty common, and we’ve changed our password since then, so no worries.
Pro Tip: While the best practice used to be changing your password every few months, security experts now say there’s little reason to do so unless you think you’re the victim of a security breach. Still, you should always use strong passwords and two-factor authentication whenever it’s available.3
After a few days of testing, we also got some hits on our social security number and our address monitoring. Looking through the alerts, though, the vast majority were over five years old and they all looked pretty reasonable. What you really need to look out for here is the stuff that makes no sense, like a ping from a city you’ve never lived in or a name you don’t recognize.
We’d like to pause and give Zander some credit here. We really liked how detailed their reports were for each notification, and we doubly appreciated that they told us the next steps we should take to protect ourselves. This type of attention to detail really inspires confidence in a service.
Now that we got a good feel for the notification system, we wanted to run through Zander’s other offerings. Keep in mind this is a pretty short list, but for less than 7 bucks a month, that’s to be expected. At the top of the dashboard, the navigation menu gave us access to everything. Under the Identity Protection tab, we were able to access the three types of monitoring involved with the service: Change of address, personal information, and social security number tracing.
Under each tab, we found our reports with actionable notifications. Under “personal information,” though, we found this notification:
We’re not docking too many points here, but really, this seems like a bug that some minor code-tweaking would fix. Throwing up a note about it instead of fixing it just feels a little lazy to us.
That said, we were happy to find a really helpful FAQ section under each tab’s report. This is one of our biggest complaints about many of these services — that they just sort of assume you know what they’re monitoring and how they’re doing it. Zander breaks it down here in a meaningful way that we think would really help the layperson understand exactly what’s going on. Have a look…
Moving on to the next section, we were able to find out information about Zander’s identity restoration services.
Under the Full-Service Restoration tab, we were told what Zander’s certified specialists would be able to help us with should we suspect our identity has been compromised. This includes contacting the entity that issued the credentials or account in question, notifying law enforcement, reviewing credit reports, filing fraud alerts, and placing credit freezes at the three bureaus.
Quick note — that last bit is something you should do anyway. Freezing your credit reports makes it so no bad actors are able to open new lines of credit. It’s easy to do, it’s free, and it doesn’t take that much time.4 All you have to do is visit each credit bureaus’ website and enter your information. Seriously, this is one of the best things you can do to protect your finances. This is particularly important if you’re going with Zander’s service since they don’t offer credit monitoring.
Under the insurance tab we found — you guessed it — information on Zander’s insurance policy. This is pretty standard fare for Identity theft prevention services; Zander offers up to $1 million in reimbursement for expenses related to recovering an identity. We briefly mentioned this above, but it covers things like lost wages or lost income, funds stolen from accounts, expenses involved in mitigating fraudulent loans, childcare costs, and legal fees. Worth pointing out, this policy has a zero dollar deductible, so should the worst occur, you won’t have to go into your pocketbook at all. That’s good news.
Did You Know: Identity theft cases are on the rise, and the costs are mounting. According to recent statistics, losses related to identity theft have increased 15 percent from 2019 to 2020.5
Finally, we checked out Zander’s wallet protection service. If we ever lose our credit cards or identification, Zander’s specialists will work with us to help cancel and reissue everything. That’s a bonus in our book — we’ve lost our wallet once or twice, and trust us, getting everything sorted out is a giant headache. We’ve seen lost wallet protection offered by other brands, but it usually only comes in the upper-tier plans for $20+ monthly.
And that’s about it on Zander’s services. There’s an education center in the navigation tab with some pretty good information in it. We particularly appreciated the quick bullet-pointed list of identity theft risk reduction tips, but overall this page didn’t feel really robust to us — we really would have liked to see something more fleshed out.
And finally, there was a link to Zander’s other insurance services, including life, home and auto, health, and long-term care. It’s beyond the scope of this review to take a look at these, but it’s handy knowing this could be a one-stop-shop for the right customer.
For protection on the go, Zander does offer a mobile app, but it’s essentially a port of the website. “Messages” is where we found our alerts, “Account” is where we could change things like our password and billing information, and under “More” we found what is essentially a mobile version of the website’s navigation tabs — identity protection, identity restoration, education center, and other products. Honestly, it’s exactly what we expected it to be. It’s certainly not the best app we’ve seen, but it serves its function in a strictly utilitarian sense (and remember, it only set us back $6.75 per month!).
So here’s the bottom line — Zander is a perfectly fine service for the right person. If you’re looking for a bunch of bells and whistles, this isn’t the service for you. If you are searching for something more robust, with credit monitoring and the whole nine, try something like ID Watchdog’s credit freezing ability, or LifeLock’s VPN access.
However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones solution at a really affordable price, Zander is one to consider. While it’s a little disconcerting that it doesn’t offer credit report monitoring, the services it does offer are adequate, and at the sub-$10 price point, it’s hard to argue with the monthly fee.
No, Zander doesn’t monitor credit reports. The company claims that if something suspicious shows up on your credit report, the damage has already been done. We don’t agree with this 100%.
Zander Costs $6.75 per month for individual plans, and $12.90 per month for families.
Zander scans the web for personal information, address changes, and social security number breaches.
No, Zander’s family plan includes kids for free.
Yes, there is a mobile app, but it’s pretty limited in its functionality.
Papadimitriou, O. (2019, October 16). Identity Theft: What It Is, How It Happens & the Best Protection. WalletHub.
Komando, K. (2020, August 16). Security experts use this lie all the time, you should, too. KTAR News.
Johnson, D. (2020, June 26.) How often you should change your passwords, according to cybersecurity experts. Business Insider.
Steinberg, S. (2020, February 27). The latest ways identity thieves are targeting you — and what to do if you are a victim. CNBC.
Ohlhorst, F. (2020, June 3). Identity Theft, Fraud Exploding in 2020. Security Boulevard.
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.