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.
For those who are interested in protecting their online identity, here’s a quick tip. There are quite a few apps available, ranging from the most powerful (Norton LifeLock and IdentityForce) to the most simplistic. Most of these apps offer very similar features including credit reporting and a credit score, alerts related to identity theft, and identity theft insurance. Picking the app you want comes down to two main factors – quality and price. If you want the best app and price is no option, then Norton LifeLock or IdentityForce are solid picks. Most of us strongly consider the second factor – the monthly price. It’s a bit deceiving when you choose a pricing plan that costs $25 per month and think that’s fairly inexpensive, then realize the total yearly fee is $300.
IDnotify is a strange hybrid. It’s not the best identity theft protection service but is also far from the worst. The IDnotify Premier plan costs $25.99 per month even though it’s remarkably similar to the Experian IdentityWorks Premium plan that costs $19.99 per month. (Experian is behind both products, in case that is still a mystery. Note that in our Experian IdentityWorks review we explained how the company experienced a massive data breach a while ago.) Yet, if you use Intuit TurboTax and sign up for the Plus, Max, or Premium plans, then IDnotify is included as part of those bundles. Somewhere in between all of these pricing options is the fact that the product itself is a worthy contender and one of our top picks overall.
Plans and pricing
One reason we like IDnotify is that it’s fairly affordable compared to the best of the best identity theft apps, even if you are not a TurboTax user. The Essential plan costs $9.99 per month but doesn’t include credit reporting or credit scores. Rather, it is a pared down feature set with a mere four features: internet surveillance, social network monitoring, identity restoration and lost wallet services. There is no discount offered for paying annually.
Moving up a notch is the middle tiered Select plan that costs $17.99 per month and includes one credit report. That seems like a hefty price increase, but realize that additional features include change of address monitoring, court records and booking monitoring, and identity theft insurance.
At the top of the tiers is the Premier plan costs $25.99 per month and includes three credit reporting agencies, along with VantageScore, sex offender monitoring and financial account monitoring. Even for that top plan, that’s still cheaper than Norton LifeLock’s Ultimate plan, which costs $29.99 per month. You can add a child to your plan for $5.99 per month. Oddly, pricing for Experian IdentityWorks uses a different strategy where you pick a family plan you want and can protect up to 10 children for $5 more per month (instead of per child fees).
It’s worth mentioning one of the most compelling reasons to consider IDnotify, however. If you sign up for TurboTax and choose the Plus, Max, or Premium plans, then IDnotify is included for free for the entire year – a big savings from the monthly pricing plans. There is a caveat in that the window for adding these plans is not quite open yet – as, TurboTax will likely offer IDnotify again as part of the 2021 tax year. We recommend checking the TurboTax site to see if that’s the case and if IDnotify is part of the bundles.
Any technical user who looks below the surface of IDnotify and IdentityWorks will find that both products likely use the same codebase. They function about the same, although IDnotify has a friendlier, lighter look with more white space and a spacious look and feel. You can find the basics easily enough in tabs along the top. Maybe it’s even the exact same product but the cleaner interface with IDnotify is our preference, and makes it easier to use than IdentityWorks.
We’re not breaking any new ground here in terms of features, but what is expected for this type of service is certainly here. We consider the lowest tier Essential plan as somewhat paltry, but the upper tiers of IDnotify includes all of the basics such as credit reporting and credit scores, identity theft insurance up to $1 million in reimbursements (included only in the Select and Premier plans), alerts for when a sex offender moves into your area, and notifications about fraud and someone stealing your identity. The Select and Premier plans do add some more advanced functionality with alerts for changes to your court records, a social security number trace.
Sooner or later, a user is likely to need some support with their identity theft service, and this a selling point for IDNotify. We take note that there is a toll free phone number, with availability 24/7, every day of the year, which is ideal as you never know when an ID theft situation can arise, and you need some assistance. Furthermore, additional options include a direct email (which we generally prefer to the contact portal approach), and finally a snail mail address. There are no further support options, such as a chat box, or self-serve info such as a FAQ, or predone articles or videos, but the basics are well covered here.
We didn’t find a single unique feature with IDnotify, especially compared to Experian IdentityWorks and some of the other leaders in the identity theft protection field. We would have liked something “extra” like the fact that Allstate Identity Protection can alert you about a social media account being hacked or how Norton LifeLock uses wizards and status indicators to show the progress you’ve made on protecting your online identity. That left us with a feeling that this is more of a ‘No frills,’ or generic offering than we would have liked.
What this means is that IDnotify falls somewhere in the middle or top of the pack, depending on how you pay for it and what you are looking for. It’s not the best or cheapest identity theft app, and it doesn’t really compare favorably to a top pick such as Norton LifeLock.
Overall, we liked the interface and the pricing is certainly not exorbitant. The real question is whether you use TurboTax and choose one of the extra plans that lets you adjust your taxes or recover from an audit. It might make perfect sense to pay a little extra for the added bundle in TurboTax and can then start using IDnotify for the entire tax year for no added monthly fees, which can get you IDNotify at a bargain- that’s a great deal and worth considering. However, on a stand alone subscription, IDNotify is significantly less compelling.
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