As more and more of the financial world becomes automated, the more likely it becomes that consumer finances are susceptible to fraudulent activity. The rise of phishing schemes, credit card skimmers, and identity theft has prompted the arrival of an entire industry dedicated to protecting consumer data.

One of the original players in this industry, and still one of the more respected and affordable options, is Identity Guard. With three individual plan options and three family plan options, Identity Guard offers credit and identity monitoring services for all budgets. But does Identity Guard work?

Monitoring vs. Protecting

Consumer identities have moved far beyond name and social security number, to a network of complex digital data pieces shared without the consumer’s knowledge. Credit monitoring and identity theft protection services are two options consumers can choose from for protection.

Credit monitoring is beneficial to consumers who are interested in a simple service that monitors changes to their credit report, especially new credit card or loan applications. Credit monitoring services can be free or paid, and one or two-year subscriptions are often provided to consumers whose data has been exposed to a breach.

Identity theft protection services are more comprehensive than credit monitoring. There are currently no preventative measures that exist to protect the theft or misuse of consumer data. Instead, identity theft services monitor their customer’s data, continually scanning for signs of suspicious or unusual activity and alerting the customer immediately before catastrophic damage occurs.

Here are some of the things that identity theft protection services can do…

Monitor credit reports: Most identity thieves are trying to either use a consumer’s existing credit card or open a new credit or loan account. Any of these activities will appear on the credit report. The service monitors suspicious activity, and the consumer is alerted.

Monitor financials: In addition to credit reports most identity protection services will monitor bank accounts and credit cards, as well as actively search for new account applications appearing in the consumer’s name.

Monitor personal information: Depending on the plan, quite a few services have the ability to monitor social security number, drivers license, and public records.

Preventative help: Almost all identity theft protection companies provide free software that makes their job easier. Antivirus software featuring encrypted logins and anti-keylogging programs, anti-phishing apps, and secure password managers are offered to help protect their customers from hacking.

The number and quality of services offered depend on the plan that is chosen. The more expensive the plan, the more services (and service!) provided.

What Identity Guard Covers

Identity Guard covers all of the basics, even with the least expensive plans. It will monitor name, social security number, bank and credit card accounts. The more expensive plans will provide credit reports and credit scores (though not an official FICO credit score).

Here are the standard features available on all plans:

  • Lost wallet protection
  • Anti-phishing app
  • ID vault password protection
  • Identity theft victim assistance
  • $1M identity theft insurance policy

Advanced features available on some plans:

  • 3 Bureau credit monitoring
  • Address change monitoring
  • Credit scores
  • Public record monitoring
  • Antivirus software
  • Online financial tools

The only service Identity Guard does not offer on any of its plans is drivers license monitoring. Credit report monitoring from all three credit agencies is only available on the more expensive plans, and the identity theft restoration help is pretty much “do it yourself.” Identity Guard will assist subscribers from their U.S. based offices but requires the consumer does the actual restoration work.

How Does Identity Guard Work?

With individual and family plans ranging from $8.99/month to $34.99/month Identity Guard is popular because it provides an excellent value for the price. The family plans are particularly cost-effective compared to other leading services.

The list of features is long and comprehensive for preventative measures. Keep in mind that value should be evaluated based on a consumer’s overall cost. Often current anti-virus, password management, or credit monitoring subscriptions can be canceled when Identity Guard is purchased, as these items are included in some plans.

Ten minutes is all it will take to sign up for the monthly subscription service. Cancellation is available anytime during the free trial, or at the end of a billing cycle for subscribers. Overall, Identity Guard is an excellent tool for identity theft protection, and it’s definitely worth a free trial.