Technology

IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit: Best Identity-Protection Service Overall

IdentityForce is one of the few identity-protection services that offers two-factor authentication to add an extra level of security to user accounts. It lets you access quarterly credit reports and credit scores from all three major credit-reporting agencies, has a useful credit-improvement simulator and includes limited protection against phishing attacks and information-stealing malware. It’s our top pick overall as the best identity theft protection service.

IdentityForce also now monitors investment accounts and lets you institute a credit freeze with all three bureaus straight from its interface, filling in one of the few gaps in its coverage. The more expensive LifeLock Ultimate Plus has done both for a while, although LifeLock’s credit-report and credit-score offerings are less generous. Meanwhile, IDShield Individual 3 Credit Bureau Monitoring is a bargain choice for those who primarily want to keep an eye on their credit files.

UPDATED August 25, 2020, with addition of one-click button to initiate credit freeze. This review was originally published June 26, 2019.

IdentityForce: Costs and what’s covered

IdentityForce has two main personal identity-protection products, and you can try the cheaper one for free for two weeks.

The $ 17.99 / month ($ 179.50 / year) UltraSecure plan comes with 24-hour monitoring of public records, financial accounts and online criminal marketplaces. It also offers protection for Windows laptops and desktops against phishing and data-stealing malware, and up to $ 1 million in insurance in case of identity theft. But this basic plan doesn’t give you access to your credit files with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).

The UltraSecure + Credit plan ups the cost to $ 23.99 / month (or $ 239.50 per year) and lets you see your credit reports, updated quarterly, from all three offices as well as the VantageScore 3.0 credit scores drawn from each report. There’s also a powerful credit simulator and graphing tool showing your credit scores over time.

Tom’s Guide readers get a substantial discount on either plan, making the UltraSecure plan $ 8.99 / month ($ 89.90 / year) and the UltraSecure + Credit plan $ 19.99 / month ($ 199.50 / year) if you buy a subscription through the Tom’s Guide website.

IdentityForce also has a family option for each plan, although they’re not listed on the website; but you can call the company at (866) 719-6831 to request either one. The UltraSecure family plan is priced at $ 24.90 per month or $ 249.00 per year, while the UltraSecure + Credit family plan is $ 35.90 per month or $ 359.00 per year. Both cover two adults and all minor children living in one household. Alternatively, IdentityForce’s ChildWatch plan lets you add minor children to your existing plan for $ 2.75 each.

IdentityForce is one of the only services that provides two-factor authentication to protect your account.

IdentityForce has an excellent A + rating from the Better Business Bureau, with only six complaints lodged against the company, mostly about trouble canceling subscriptions. The company rates a 3.75-star score out of 5 from ConsumerAffairs.

You can, of course, sign up for IdentityForce on the company website, but technophobes may take the alternative route of calling the company at (866) 719-6831.

IdentityForce: Plan comparison chart

IdentityForce UltraSecure IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit
Monthly cost $ 18 ($ 9 for Tom’s Guide readers) $ 24 ($ 20 for Tom’s Guide readers)
Family plan $ 25, 2 adults & unlimited kids; per-child rate also available $ 36, 2 adults & unlimited kids; per-child rate also available
Yearly payment discount Two months free Two months free
Credit reports & office monitored None Equifax, Experian, TransUnion
Frequency of credit reports, credit scores None Quarterly
Credit-improvement simulator No Yes
Sex offender, data breach alerts Yes Yes
Payday loans, social media, personal-search sites, medical records, black markets monitored Yes Yes
Max. ID-theft insurance coverage $ 1 million $ 1 million

IdentityForce: How we tested

Early in 2019, I signed up with IdentityForce’s UltraSecure + Credit plan along with four other services and paid for it to protect my identity. I checked my IdentityForce account daily and took note of how many alerts I received and any changes in status over a three-month period.

IdentityForce: Credit scores, reports and monitoring

As noted above, IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit offers access to quarterly credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It gives you the individual credit scores calculated by applying the VantageScore 3.0 model to each bureau’s credit report.

You can buy an instant, current-day report through IdentityForce for $ 10 from a single bureau or $ 15 from all three. If you see incorrect information on a credit report, the interface contains contact information for your credit providers.

VantageScores are sometimes used by lenders when they’re deciding whether to offer consumer credit. Far more widely used are FICO scores, which are calculated using a slightly different model, but the VantageScore scores should offer a rough approximation of the FICO scores.

MORE: Credit Reports vs. Credit Scores: What’s the Difference?

IdentityForce’s credit simulators are excellent. You can check if it would be better to buy or to lease a car, or how to prepare for a mortgage application. There’s also a calculator for the costs and benefits of consolidating debt, and a color-coded, two-year history of your on-time and late bill payments.

The service does a good job monitoring credit cards and bank accounts, but it can’t protect investment accounts, such as my woefully underfunded IRA.

IdentityForce: Insurance and services

IdentityForce offers to help you recover from identity theft with up to $ 1 million of assistance and compensation for lost funds. It will pay for replacement documents, up to $ 1,500 a week for five weeks of lost wages, up to $ 2,000 in travel expenses, up to $ 1,000 in legal fees – and another $ 1,000 for accounting fees – and up to $ 2,000 for elder or child care.

MORE: Identity Theft Victim? Here’s 6 Things You Need to Do

Should your wallet be stolen or lost, IdentityForce will help you cancel credit and debit cards, with identity-restoration experts on call 24/7 to help you fill out forms and advise you on how to proceed.

IdentityForce: Notifications and alerts

You can set IdentityForce to notify you of bank account withdrawals or credit card purchases over certain limits, and the service will alert you if someone tries to change your address for a loan, bank account or credit card.

It also scans court records for your name and Social Security number and can help put a fraud alert note in your credit file. I saw alerts of requests made by third parties for my credit files, but I wasn’t told who those parties were or whether they’d been granted access. (They may have been the other identity-protection services I’d signed up with.)

IdentityForce keeps an eye on a variety of dark-web cybercrime forums as well as payday loan companies, medical records and “people search” services. It will alert you with specific information if a registered sex offender moves into your area.

The company says it can even stop junk-mail solicitations for pre-approved credit cards, but I tried this and didn’t notice any difference. In July 2020, IdentityForce added a dedicated page to its interface to make it easier for users to more easily opt out of such junk mailings, as well as telemarketing calls and commercial emails. We’ll be testing that feature in our next IdentityForce review.

IdentityForce’s alerts can come via phone, text or email, and you can filter them according to identity, financial, credit or social categories. Over my test period, IdentityForce alerted me twice about spending over my limit.

IdentityForce: Setup

It took me 7 minutes to get started with IdentityForce SecureUltra + Credit. I entered my name, email address and date of birth; then set up payment with a credit card and added the numbers for my phone, driver’s license, passport, Social Security and medical insurance as well as my street address.

After creating a password and answering a security question, I set up two-factor authentication for a little extra account security. The temporary log-in code can be sent via email, phone call or text message. (It’s kind of pathetic that so few identity theft protection services offer this basic security protection.)

I added credit card numbers and bank accounts to cover my financial life, meager as it might be. I had to enter my online banking passwords. All this financial account data is stored in compliance with the ISO 27002 standard using AES-256 encryption.

The company has technicians and identity-theft counselors available 24/7 for quick response. On the website, there’s a multitude of FAQ-like answers to typical questions as well as a list of current scams and primers on identity theft. Through the IdentityForce website, I sent an email to tech support asking about services and pricing, but it went unanswered.

IdentityForce: Cancellation

After three months of use, it was time to end my IdentityForce subscription. I went into the Manage Account section, opened the Protection Plan area and clicked on Cancel Membership.

IdentityForce’s credit simulators are excellent.

After I confirmed that I actually wanted to leave the service, I was able to submit the request. A green box appeared at the bottom of the screen informing me that the date of cancellation would be at the end of the current billing cycle. I received an email confirmation within 5 minutes.

IdentityForce: Interface and utilities

IdentityForce has a two-fisted approach: desktop and notebook computers use a website interface, while iOS and Android phones and tablets get dedicated apps.

(Image credit: IdentityForce)

The web-account Dashboard is the center of activity, with notifications front and center. I got an alert about a sex offender who recently moved nearby; the alert identified him by name and address and described his prominent tattoos and scars.

Be ready to do a lot of scrolling, because the website front page is very long. It showed my current credit scores and had a link that allowed me to get instant credit reports – for which I’d have had to pay extra.

My Protection Status was displayed as a percentage, and the company’s Global Threat News listed the top three most recent scams and hacks – all of which were two weeks old.

The Credit section lets you delve into your credit reports and credit scores, and it’s also where you can use IdentityForce’s new one-click credit-freeze button.

The Resources section includes the credit simulator and calculators to help you decide whether to refinance a mortgage, buy a car or get a new credit card. It also includes the new page letting you opt out of (legal) junk mail, telemarketing calls and email promotions.

The IdentityForce mobile apps for phones and tablets were much simpler than the website when we last tested them in early 2019, but they have since been updated with a new look and feel.

The Alerts page is the first thing you see, with icons for the same categories as the website. There are also sections for Protection and Credit, which lets you view your credit scores from each reporting agency, as well as Support. You can log into your IdentityForce account using your fingerprint or face instead of a password, but you’ll have to use two-factor authentication the first time you do.

IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit includes a feature for Windows called PC Protection Tools, which defends systems against phishing attacks, keylogging malware and theft of personal data using browser plug-ins and a keystroke scrambler. The tools should not conflict with the best antivirus software.

IdentityForce offers nothing comparable for Macs. But in late 2019, IdentityForce added a feature called Mobile Attack Control for its iOS and Android apps that alerts users about unsecured or hostile Wi-Fi networks and malicious apps. To clean up infections, we nonetheless recommend one of the best Android antivirus apps.

IdentityForce review: Bottom line

IdentityForce UltraSecure + Credit remains in our top slot because it’s the best overall identity-protection and credit-monitoring service around. It’s also the only one among our best identity theft protection services that provides two-factor authentication, which we consider essential to protecting sensitive accounts.

If you’re willing to pay substantially more, LifeLock Ultimate Plus has more comprehensive identity protection. If you’d prefer just credit monitoring, IDShield Individual 3 Bureau Protection comes at a bargain price. But IdentityForce is still best overall.

Credit: Tom’s Guide

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker