Pros / You’ll receive monthly updates on your credit reports.
Cons / There’s no option for getting a free credit score.
Verdict / With comprehensive credit and identity monitoring, Identity Guard is the best overall choice for tracking your credit and quickly responding to fraud.
Identity Guard is primarily an identity monitoring service, but many of its plans offer credit monitoring as well. We found that the combination of services matches or exceeds those offered by many credit focused services, making it our choice for the best overall credit monitoring service.
There are many plans to choose from. We reviewed the platinum plan, which matches up with the other plans we reviewed. The platinum plan offers monthly credit reports and all the identity theft monitoring offered by Identity Guard. The platinum plan costs $24.99 a month. This is about equal to Identity Force but less than MyFICO.
There’s also a Total Protection plan that offers quarterly reports for $19.99 a month. The frequency of the reports is the only difference between these two plans. In general we think it’s better to get reports more frequently since you’ll have a better idea of how your credit changes based on your financial decisions. It also allows you to spot errors quicker, which gives you a chance to get them removed before they can impact your credit score.
Another available plan is the Identity Guard with Watson that uses artificial intelligence to monitor a wide range of data sources to protect your identity. With the Watson plan you’ll get a credit report from just one bureau, so the platinum or total protection plans are more comprehensive since they provide reports from all three major credit bureaus.
There’s no free credit score or reporting option through Identity Guard. This is disappointing since federal law entitles you to one free yearly credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. However, with monthly credit reports you’ll be able to spot errors quickly. Identity Guard also offers a credit score simulator. This is a useful tool that lets you see how certain decisions can affect your credit score. Identity Guard’s simulator is especially useful because it estimates the scores on all three bureaus.
The credit scores you get through Identity Guard are created using the Credit Xpert scoring model. This is what’s called an educational score, meaning its mostly for your benefit and doesn’t quite reflect what lenders use to make their decisions. This score has a range of 350-850, which is similar to the FICO score range.
If you find an error on one of your credit reports, Identity Guard provides links within the dashboard to send disputes to the bureaus. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the bureaus respond and resolve your disputes. Having the ability to send those disputes through your monitoring service’s dashboard is an invaluable resource.
Identity Guard will send notifications to you about any changes to your credit file. You can elect to get the notifications through email or through the app. If a new inquiry is made on your credit file or a new account is opened using your information, you’ll be notified.
One of the best ways to safeguard your credit is to put a freeze on your account. One of the drawbacks of using a service like Identity Guard is that you can’t lock your accounts through it. You’ll need to contact each of the bureaus and put a freeze on your account. Usually there’s a small fee involved. You’ll have to lift the freeze before any inquiries can be made on your account, and the bureau will give you a PIN you’ll need to unfreeze your account.
Identity Guard offers a strong selection of identity monitoring features. It will track your personal information to ensure that accounts using your name or address aren’t changed without your permission. It also monitors your Social Security number and public records to make sure any information out there is really yours.
If your identity is compromised, you’ll work with a case manager who will personally help you through all the steps to resolve the issues. They’ll follow up for a 60-day period after the resolution to ensure everything’s been taken care of. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, Identity Guard will help you cancel any cards, check your accounts for potential fraud and access emergency cash.
The platinum plan also includes child identity monitoring. This tracks your children’s Social Security numbers makes sure there hasn’t been any fraudulent activity using their information. Identity fraud using a child’s personal information is becoming increasingly prevalent, so this is a valuable tool to have.
Identity Guard is our choice for the best overall credit monitoring service. The platinum plan offers monthly reports on your credit files from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also use the simulator to see how each of your scores are affected. It also offers high quality identity monitoring features.