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.
The Internet has become a dangerous place. Apart from the trolls lurking on social media waiting to shame and harass you at every turn, and in addition to the websites that drop a cookie onto your computer and track what you do online, there is an even darker side. Criminal organizations are capturing your personally identifiable information - such as credit cards, home address, and date of birth - and selling them to the highest bidder. Hackers are actively on the prowl looking for ways to compromise your financial endeavors - everything from stealing your 401K login to assuming control of your social media accounts.
Experts now claim this illicit activity on the Dark Web (as it is called) accounts for about 5% of all Internet usage on a global scale. That’s astounding. Some apps provide at least some assistance - they can protect you when you type in a credit card number at an e-commerce site, for example, and notify you that the connection is not secure. Some offer a way to perform a credit check and analyze how much personal information is exposed online.
One of the most comprehensive identity theft protection apps is called IdentityForce, and it has an exhaustive list of features, which now also includes a VPN. The app is not merely trying to protect your credit card or social security number, and it’s not intended to only analyze leaks but to protect you against them. In evaluating the features and pricing plans, it provides some powerful tools, including the ability to call or chat with an identity theft protection expert at any time. The only minor gripe is that the premium plans are a bit pricey compared to lesser, more entry-level theft protection apps.
- Want to try IdentityForce? Check out the website here
Plans and pricing
IdentityForce provides three different theft protection plans and two dramatically different ways to pay for the protection. The monthly plans tend to cost quite a bit more compared to annual plans (which work out to a much lower monthly cost). For example, if you choose the UltraSecure+Credit plan and pay monthly, it costs $19.99 per month, but if you pay annually it works out to only $16.58. Also, the base premium package currently costs $8.99 per month right now but normally costs $17.99 per month (about the same as the highest premium plan), so the pricing can be tricky to evaluate. Overall, the costs are definitely a bit higher than some but are in line with the more popular identity theft protection clients like Norton Lifelock.
In terms of what you gain by upgrading to the more expensive plans, IdentityForce mainly adds credit check protection. The Ultra-Credit plan includes persistent real-time monitoring for three credit bureaus as well as the ability to check your credit rating and receive a credit score. You can simulate credit checks as well and see how different actions impact the results.
When it comes to theft protection and choosing the right app, it all starts with the website because you can see which features are available and determine the professionalism of the company. A few identity theft protection companies seem sketchy right from the start based on a poorly designed and hard to follow website. IdentityForce spells everything out in crystal-clear detail, including pop-ups that explain exactly what every feature does.
The app itself presents all of the information in a simplified format where you can easily type in a driver’s license number, passport information, personal info, and other data. IdentityForce uses a dashboard that lays out the options clearly with a row of icons on the left and large sections for dealing with all of the factors that pertain to identity theft protection, such as credit checks, bank information, auto loans, retirement packages, and much more.
IdentityForce is not short on features and it now adds a VPN tool into the mix too. In fact, that’s one initial surprise as you wade through all of the different options for protecting your identity. A few of the most interesting features include a way to monitor a “pay day loan” hack. This security problem involves someone using your identity to secure a cash loan. If you are alerted right away, you can immediately start addressing the problem with your bank or credit card company. IdentityForce also alerts you about any fraud commited by a sex offender - someone who might be using your personal information to bypass local laws about reporting their identity and location.
Another important feature included with IdentityForce is that it can spot malware and phishing scams. Sometimes theft protection apps only offer this capability through a separate virus protection app which requires an additional monthly or yearly fee. IdentityForce monitors all keyboard inputs as you work and can block website downloads or suspicious activity. Both premium plans for IdentityForce include $1 million of theft protection.
IdentityForce has one main competitor of note: Norton Lifelock. Both products include similar features for performing credit check surveillance, monitoring for compromises to your bank account or credit cards, and malware and phishing scam blockers.
The biggest difference is that both of the IdentityForce plans include $1 million of identity theft protection insurance, which means if your bank accounts or credit card is compromised you can trust that the company will recover out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages. With many of the theft protection apps, you can expect to find lower levels of insurance protection, starting with plans with $100,000 of insurance and moving up the scale as you pay a higher monthly fee.
IdentityForce offers many extra perks beyond the typical credit check monitoring features, malware blockers, and identity theft insurance. The most impressive feature available in both premium plans is the included $1 million of insurance, while the VPN service is an added bonus too. It’s also helpful that the app bundles everything into one dashboard for protecting your identity rather than splitting out features among a host of apps you have to install and maintain.
- We've also highlighted the best identity theft protection services