Identity Guard Review
Before getting to my Identity Guard review of their services, it’s important to learn a little about the company and it’s background. For an identity protection service to work well, the services offered must be consistently of high quality. Imagine signing up for a credit report change monitoring and alert service which fails to report the changes as they occur or signing up for an automatic fraud alert placement service and accidentally notice one day that their system failed to renew the 90 days fraud alert leaving your credit report open to misuse. That’s why it’s very important to assess the financial stability and credibility of any company with which you plan to do any business, although this Identity Guard review only provides a high level overview of the company.
Identity Guard is the consumer identity theft solutions unit of the Intersections Inc., which is a public company (INTX) and primarily in the business of fraud protection and security. Intersections provides identity theft services to major banks and financial institutions, serving over 7 million customers worldwide. Intersections also provides consumer-oriented insurance and membership products as well as pre-employment background screening services domestically through majority-owned Screening International LLC, and internationally in partnership with Control Risks Group Limited of the United Kingdom. This Identity Guard review is limited to the review of products and services the company offers and not intended to be an in depth analysis of the company.
Identity Guard Services
When I came across Identity Guard which is an identity protection company, I decided to write an Identity Guard review and evaluate their services and products. As soon as I read about their services, I really liked the comprehensive identity protection services they were offering and looking into their web site, which provided more details, made me like their services even more. My initial assessment was due to the comprehensiveness of their services and once I explain to you what they offer and how it all works together to protect your identity, you will see what I mean. Generally, Identity Guard offers four levels of identity protection services. Each level provides a certain level of protection and as you move up the levels, so do the added protection services and costs. This Identity Guard review analyzes the company's services to further support your identity theft and protection decision-making process based on your needs and budgets:
"Good Start" Identity Guard review – This service is the first and cheapest identity theft service level and comes with daily credit bureau monitoring and email alerts. Daily credit bureau monitoring intends to help detect fraudulent activities in consumer credit reports. Daily monitoring of new business inquiries can help consumers verify the accuracy of their credit files as changes occur. Email alerts will notify consumers of any recent changes to their credit files, allowing them to review the reported changes immediately and detect fraudulent transactions or inquiries that were not initiated or authorized by them limiting their losses and impact to their credit report. The service comes with toll free customer service support to help consumers validate each inquiry and guide toward the next steps in case suspicious activity is detected.
"Watchful Eye" Identity Guard review - This second identity theft service level adds daily monitoring of the Internet’s “black market” and "back alley" chat rooms to all the services already offered by Good Start. The Watchful Eye service level is ideal for those of us who frequently use the Internet, cell phones or wireless devices for transactions, which can be used to steal our personal information. After you sign up with the Identity Guard service, you can register up to 10 credit card numbers on the Identity Guard web site. These registered credit card numbers will be monitored on the Internet to ensure they are not being traded, exchanged or sold by identity thieves. Another benefit of registered credit cards is that once you realize you lost any one of your credit cards, you can easily cancel them.
"Extra Caution" Identity Guard review - Add all 3 credit bureau reports, scores and quarterly updates to the Watchful Eye services described above. The reports will give you the opportunity to review and detect any inaccuracies in your credit reports, especially those resulting from fraudulent transactions that were not detected through credit bureau monitoring. In addition, you will have access to your credit scores, which you can use to improve your financial dealings when negotiating new credit terms.
"Total Protection" Identity Guard review - Add public record reporting, as well as scanning for application and social security fraud to the Extra Caution services above. A patented combination of technologies is used to monitor and report the improper web site posting of your public record information including addresses, driver’s licenses, owned property, civil judgments or other asset listings. The service includes daily surveillance for unlawful use of your Social Security number and other sensitive data, reporting on any inappropriate posting of public record, and scanning for cell phone and other applications fraudulently submitted in your name. The Total Protection service level also comes with the ZoneAlarm® Internet Security Suite which is regularly updated for as long as you are enrolled in the Total Protection service level. The software, once installed on your computer, detects and removes viruses and spyware from your computer. It also reduces spams and phishing while it protects the wireless PC and against Internet communications. This is a complete computer and Internet protection for the average computer user.
The Registration Process
I signed up for the Identity Guard Total Protection service to observe the registration process and quality of service as well as the identity protection benefits overtime for this Identity Guard review.
The online registration process included 4 screens. The first screen is about gathering basic individual information such as name, address and contact information.
The second screen asked about the billing information where the services can be charged to and also requested terms agreement and authorization to obtain certain personal information on our behalf to provide the necessary services.
The third screen attempted to verify my identity by asking for my social security number and date of birth.
The fourth screen asked a few questions regarding my credit history to validate my identity. After all I could have stolen someone else’s social security number and date of birth to access their credit reports.
Accessing The System
Upon completion and submission of the forms, I was able to pick my own ID and password to access the member only home page. This member page is the hub for access to all identity protection tools and services. There are 3 general sections in the member area; quick links to services and tools including the ZoneAlarm® Internet Security Suite, Identity Guard dispute center, and customer information center. The quick links section indicates your service level whether it’s Good Start, Watchful Eye, Extra Caution, or Total Protection and the related services that come with them. Let's continue with the Identity Guard review of their various online sections:
My Quick Links
My Quick Links section is where most of the critical service links are such as credit report, credit score, card registration or cancellation, Internet surveillance, public records or identity theft recovery unit. Here’s an on overview of the section:
Initially, when I attempted to review my credit reports and credit scores, the system indicated the data gathering was in progress. Shortly after, I received an email asking me to call Identity Guard and when I did, I found out they wanted to make sure I was who I said I was on my application by asking a couple of more personal information from my credit report. Immediately after our phone conversation, my credit reports and credit scores became available online for my review.
You can register up to 10 major credit cards for the Internet surveillance, which can also be used to cancel upon loss or theft. Mother’s maiden name and country of birth information is saved as these might be required by credit card companies to cancel credit cards. Upon lost or stolen card notification, Identity Guard cancels the credit cards and immediately starts to pull credit reports to verify cancellation of the cards.
The public record profile shows my property, versions of my misspelled name used in applications and past addresses as old as over 10 years. This is pretty good information and come in handy since I hardly remember my last address let alone the past 5 or 10.
Credit Analyzer is a tool that will assess the impact of your credit actions on your credit score. This tool can help you improve your credit score by identifying certain actionable steps.
The ID Risk Assessment analyzes your identity theft risk based on your personal information such as name, address, Social Security number (SSN), and date of birth. It shows whether you are at low, medium, high or critical risk of identity theft.
The Identity Theft Recovery Unit helps with determining whether a fraud has occurred and help identity fraud victims recover and resolve fraud issues. Identity Theft Recovery Agents provide one-on-one assistance and help to determine the actions needed throughout the resolution and recovery process. Their professionals will:
- Assist in contacting the three national credit reporting agencies and placing a fraud alert on credit files.
- Assist in contacting affected creditors, reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.
- Send a Fraud First Aid Kit to victims that provides information and assistance in recovery and restoration of defrauded personal information.
ZoneAlarm® Internet Security Suite
The security suite is free and the software is regularly updated as long as the Total Protection identity theft service level is selected and renewed. The software detects and removes viruses and spyware. It also reduces spams and phishing while it protects the wireless PC and against Internet communications. This is a complete computer and Internet protection for the average computer user. When I tried to install the software for my Identity Guard review, I actually received an error message indicating a conflict with my existing and expired CA anti virus. I had to uninstall my old anti virus software before being able to proceed with the ZoneAlarm® installation.
Identity Guard Dispute Center
Upon review of your credit report information and credit scores, you may come across inaccuracies from time to time whether due to identity theft or errors. These inaccuracies must be disputed regardless of why they appeared in your files. This is your right as a consumer.
Your credit report and credit score can impact whether you qualify for a credit card loan, insurance or mortgage. They can also influence the interest rates of your loans or your ability to get a job.
The Dispute Center tools and resources will guide you through the dispute process, giving you the necessary information and assistance to correct inaccuracies in your credit files.
In documenting my Identity Guard review, I was surprised to learn that they also provide Internet monitoring of public records and credit card transactions as well as computer security software as part of their services. This is what I meant when I said I liked the comprehensiveness of their services. Monitoring as many identity components as possible, detection of fraud or suspicious activities, and resolution or recovery is part of a full identity protection plan.
Based on my Identity Guard review, If you like the various service levels as much as I did, you should consider enrolling in one of their service levels depending on your budgets and identity protection needs. I like the Total Protection and actually signed up for this service for my Identity Guard review project, however, your identity protection needs might be different from others. For example, if you already have computer security tools and software at home, you may not need the Total Protection even though the service provides additional benefits. You should learn about their 4 types of service levels and decide which one is the right service for you.