When it comes to identity theft protection, cost effectiveness is one of the more important factors people look for, and a big part of what makes a service cost effective is how they handle covering multiple people.
Some low tier services require you to buy a whole separate service to cover a second adult, much less children, while others provide options to cover both for a fraction of the price of paying for multiple accounts.
Thankfully, Identity Guard is one of the latter, and we’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of their specific family plans in a moment.
Why Bother With Family Coverage?
There are two main reasons to get a family pan: the sentimental, and the practical.
In the first case, you obviously want your family to be as well protected as you are. Keeping your family safe is a big priority for a lot of people, and if you can afford it, getting broader protection is a no-brainer to make sure your spouse and kids are covered by the same great service you’re already paying for. This goes especially for kids who can’t take care of themselves.
However, there’s also an especially practical reason to do so: because your spouse’s credit score and finances affect your own.
While it is a myth that you and your spouse’s credit scores are completely linked to each other, and that what affects one affects the other, it can still cause problems. For example, if your spouse’s credit score is terrible but yours is good, and you try to jointly apply for a loan on a house, car, business, or other important purchase, the loan can be rejected because of your spouse’s seemingly unreliable credit history.
Extending credit coverage to both people in a relationship prevents one person’s credit score from being artificially tanked by identity fraud events, sidestepping this problem.
Of course, there is also the problem of shared accounts once you have been approved for them, whether it be a loan or a bank account. Your joint bank account in particular can be a weak point to both people involved, and getting money drained from that hurts both of you, as does the security breach it opens up for your individual accounts. What happens to one of you can happen to both.
Making sure everyone you share finances with is protected is just common sense.
Do Kids Really Need Identity Theft Protection?
This might be surprising to some people, but the answer is a resounding yes, and they potentially need it even more than an adult would.
A child’s financial history is completely clean of anything you might normally expect to find. A complete blank slate, in most cases. However, that does not mean that a child cannot have a credit report, it’s just relatively rare. Children still have a social security number, for instance, and most other documentation needed to do something like open a bank account in their name (though this requires it to be a joint account).
The nature of this blank slate and the fact that a child’s finances are generally a complete blind spot to a lot of people, makes them an incredibly tempting target for identity fraud “professionals” who can ensure a child’s life is ruined before it even has a chance to begin: with both them and their parents none the wiser until they try to take out their first loan, such as taking out student loans for college.
Identity theft protection for children is very simple, but very effective. Similarly to how the service monitors an adult’s information, it will typically search for a child’s information to see if it’s exposed online.
However, the monitoring is typically more “sensitive” for a kid. If the service finds that the child has a credit report at all, it’s a cause for concern and you’ll be alerted. According to a Carnegie Mellon study, children are up to 51 times as likely to be the victims of identity theft than adults, making this a huge concern for parents.
Coverage for children is usually quite inexpensive, so even if you don’t have a spouse it’s worth getting if it’s available.
Identity Guard Basic Overview
Identity Guard offers the same services regardless of whether you have an individual or family plan.
Their service plans come in three tiers: Value, Total, and Ultra, and each one provides increasing levels of protection.
All levels provide some kind of monitoring, which searches the web for any of your information that may have leaked to unsavory people and is being used for suspicious purposes. If anything is found, Identity Guard will alert you.
Once alerted, you can decide if the alert is worth acting on, and Identity Guard provides a variety of tools to help you take action. Particularly, they have a customer service team that is available even quite late into the evening (11 PM EST on weekdays) who are knowledgeable and experienced. They can help walk you through any steps that need to be taken to get your identity back.
Backing up their stellar customer service, they have an equally stellar $1 million insurance plan available to every single one of their service tiers. This covers up to $1 million in stolen funds as a matter of course (money that is directly drained from your bank account, for example), and also separately covers expenses, such as hiring lawyers and other experts, lost wages from missing work, and hiring childcare professionals you otherwise wouldn’t have needed to hire.
Unlike some other insurance plans, these are two entirely separate pools; you could be reimbursed for up to $1 million in stolen funds and also be reimbursed for up to $1 million in expenses, as unlikely as that scenario is.
Overall, Identity Guard is a great, cost effective option for any individual looking for identity theft protection…but how does their family plan compare?
Related Article: Identity Guard Review
Identity Guard Family Plan Pricing
To understand the value of their family plans, we first need to take a solid look at the prices on each tier of service. The individual plan prices are also provided here for reference, and Identity Guard’s always-available discounted prices are being used here, which can be accessed from this link.
|Individual Annual||$6.67/month |
|Family Annual||$10.00/month |
As you can see, the value of their family plans is pretty solid. For an additional third of the base price of an individual plan, you get to cover an additional adult or up to 10 children; you don’t need to buy protection for children separately, but conversely you’re not able to pay for just an extra adult to get a bit more of a discount.
Given the relatively low price increase though, this isn’t as bad of a deal as it might otherwise be.
The one that might be more annoying to deal with is Identity Guard doesn’t offer just a child plan either, so even if you’re a single parent, you’re going to be paying the price for an additional adult whether you need it or not. This is a shame, as competitors offer services for just children, like Identity Force’s Childwatch, and LifeLock Junior.
Check the difference in features between Identity Guard and IdentityForce in our definitive comparison guide.
Are Their Family Plans Worth It?
Overall, yes. Identity Guard’s family plans do have some annoyances, to be sure. In addition to not being able to add options “a la carte” for just adults or just children’s coverage, Identity Guard’s family plans only cover people living under the same roof.
This means you’re not able to cover a child who’s gone off to college, for instance, with a family plan. You’ll need to get an entire other account at full price for that, which is a shame.
However, if all the factors align with what you’re doing, these plans should be great. They’re all very cost effective, even taking into account the lack of modular coverage, and all the family plans offer Identity Guard’s entire range of coverage, which is some of the best on the market.
Their adult plans in particular are excellent value. Getting Identity Guard Ultra for two people, for the cost of one and a third plans is the same as some services, so even if you don’t have children it’s about the same price as some services for their adults only plan, but you get the children included for no extra charge. That’s essentially the way you need to look at it.
It’s hard to do better than Identity Guard’s family plans in terms of performance, exactly the same as their individual plans. The only unfortunate bit is how cumbersome it makes getting that coverage for unusual family situations.
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