Our series on identity theft protection apps will evaluate the features, pricing options, competition, and also the overall value of using each app. However, these are not full hands-on reviews since evaluating identity theft protection apps is almost impossible. It would require several months of testing, purposefully hacking accounts to see if the protection app works, handing over personally identifiable information, performing multiple credit checks, and risking exposure of the reviewer’s personally identifiable information.
Identity theft is one of those “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” type of scenarios in the sense that it is better to select a protection plan prior to experiencing a breach on your credit, online account, or someone taking out a loan on your behalf. It is best thought about like other types of insurance, as nobody should wait to have a car accident to think about getting an auto insurance plan, or having a fire at the house prior to obtaining a homeowner’s policy on their family residence. Also realize that this is not a hypothetical situation that does not happen to anyone, as the Define Financial blog indicates that it is on the rise and that “There were 4.8 million identity theft and credit card fraud reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2020, resulting in a $4.5 Billion total loss.”
IdentityIQ is such a provider of identity theft protection, and is well experienced, having been around since 2009, and is based in the US. The CEO, Scott Hermann, joined in 2017. IdentityIQ is a product from the company IDIQ, which also offers related products DataBreachIQ (corporate data breach protection) and MyScoreIQ (FICO monitoring, and credit scores).
Plans and pricing
The plans, like so many in this segment, start to get confusing fairly quickly. Essentially it boils down to a choice of four tiers, although the way it is laid out, with the most basic plan out of sequence on the bottom, kind of like the store branded cans in the supermarket almost hidden on the bottom shelf out of the consumer’s eye’s line of sight. After that, there is the option to add Bitdefender Total Security to any of the plans, which for reference their least expensive plan is $3.33/month as a standalone option on the Bitdefender website.
The bottom tier is the Secure Plan, at a cost of $6.99/month, and enigmatically at $83.88 annually, which works out to exactly the same price without any discount for prepaying for the year- a situation that continues on the upper tiers of plans as well. Adding in the Bitdefender Total Security increases the cost to $8.99/month, which is a good deal for those that can bundle in their antivirus software for savings, and also gain access to the Bitdefender Premium VPN. Getting back to identity protection, the protection is somewhat basic on this entry plan with daily 1 bureau credit monitoring, dark web and internet monitoring, up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement, and SSN alerts.
Moving up a tier gets us to the Secure Plus plan, at a cost of $9.99 monthly. The standout feature is the addition of an annual three credit bureau report and score, although it is still missing some essentials, such as enhanced credit report monitoring.
The next tier up is Secure Pro, at a cost of $19.99/month. While the cost is somewhat higher, it has some important features, including the bi-annual three credit bureau credit reports and scores, credit score alerts, and enhanced credit report monitoring.
The top plan is Secure Max, which at a cost of $29.99/month has the tri-bureau credit reports and scores on a monthly basis. It truly has a ton of features, such as a credit score tracker, a credit score simulator, and $25k of ID theft insurance for family protection.
IdentityIQ offers a comprehensive suite of services to protect users from identity theft. However, as detailed in the plan tiers, an upper tier plan is needed for a monthly credit report, and enhanced credit monitoring. After all, just getting an annual credit report can be obtained for no cost.
We are divided on the addition of the Bitdefender Security Suite to the identity theft protection plan. Part of us thinks that IdentityIQ should focus more on the features of its identity protection package, and offer the more important features, such as the credit score tracker on the lower tier. Alternately though, identity theft can certainly happen when a user gets hacked when online, and having the suite from Bitdefender that provides antivirus, and also a VPN should keep a user safer online with these tools. We also note that Bitdefender’s Antivirus solution garnered a high recommendation last we looked at it, although to nitpick, a 200 MB daily limit is not going to be enough for most users of the VPN other than for basic email when on Wi-Fi.
A shortcoming is the lack of a smartphone app for any of the major platforms.
The support for IdentityIQ is pretty limited, with just a single option available. We found a toll free number, but there are no specified hours of operation. We also did not find any other options, so no chat, support portal, or email.
IdentityIQ includes a comparison chart to Norton LifeLock right on its website, so we took a closer look. The pricing is a little difficult to compare directly, as LifeLock offers an annual discount, and significantly discounted offers for the first year of use, which gives it an edge right away. We also like that LifeLock bundles in the anti-malware protection, along with a password manager, and VPN, without requiring another package, at an additional cost like IdentityIQ, however only the top tier LifeLock plan has an unlimited VPN, so it will be more for occasional use (for example, an email on public Wi-Fi), rather than for constant protection.
IdentityIQ offers a useful offering for identity protection. We like the affordable starting cost, the option to add in the Bitdefender Security Suite at a low additional cost, and the $1 million of insurance even on the bottom plan- a feature that competitors frequently lower on the starting tier. The misses are here too, such as high price on the upper tier, the lack of an annual discount, and lone support option. Still, overall, IdentityIQ is a more than fair and decent offering in this important segment.
We’ve also highlighted the best identity theft protection