Identity Guard vs Aura: What Is The Difference?

When it comes to identity theft protection, Identity Guard is, or was, the gold standard. However, it seems they felt they could do better. Aura is sort of Identity Guard’s answer to LifeLock. Instead of just being an identity theft protection service, it offers several other features that help improve your internet hygiene and preemptively protect against online threats.

Let’s see if it works out for them, or if the split in focus results in worse overall performance, the same way it does for LifeLock.

As a note: this comparison might seem a bit odd compared to others we’ve done, as I’m treating this as somewhat of a “post-mortem” of Identity Guard. It seems clear that Aura is designed to render Identity Guard obsolete entirely, and it does a pretty effective job of that.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

identity theft protection

We have painstakingly tailored our process to get results that are not only accurate, but as unbiased as possible. The focus is on gathering information the same way any other user would, with our test information treated as a real person and monitored over the course of about a month. We see how it reacts to changes in the user’s credit score, any breaches in the provided information or the services there are accounts for, and so on.

We grade the service on this performance, and on a few other metrics in order of importance:

  1. Monitoring and alerts
  2. Threat resolution
  3. Insurance
  4. Ease of use 
  5. Cost
  6. Additional services

The top three metrics are, bar none, the most important for any service. Getting a poor score in any of the three will drop the score significantly, and failing in the realm of monitoring specifically is a death knell for the service; it guarantees a low score. The bottom three could be considered tiebreakers mostly for comparison to other services, but also to give you a bit of an idea what to expect from the service as a whole.

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Do You Even Need Identity Theft Protection?

identity theft protection

Like many important things, identity theft protection is in the realm of “recommended, but not required”. It’s risk mitigation, similar to health and auto insurance. Are you guaranteed to get into a car accident, or need urgent medical care? No. But ultimately it costs you more to not have it in the event that you do need it.

Lacking insurance, or identity theft protection, is essentially gambling against your future and hoping you never bust. For many people, it works out. For more, it doesn’t.

Considering how common identity theft protection is becoming, with more and more people working from home and spending their leisure time online as well, it’s just good sense to have it. You can do a lot to keep yourself safe online, but sometimes it’s just out of your control, as even major credit companies can have major data breaches that leak your personal information, up to and including your Social Security Number, to those who would do you harm. It’s happened to Equifax, and it could happen again.

Having someone in your corner to help solve the problems resulting from this, and reimburse any money you use, is invaluable.

Quick Score Guide:

Criteria
Aura
Identity Guard
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Ease of Use: Winner – Identity Guard

In comparison to Identity Guard, I actually don’t like Aura as much. It feels very much form over function, and provides a lot less usable information available on its dashboard.

dashboard

Really the only thing it gives you here is your credit score. You don’t have a quick overview of your alerts  or anything like that (though you do get your most recent unviewed notifications in the top right), and the services you have quick access to are not ones that you really need quick access to via your dashboard, and are instead are the kind of thing that could have been shoved to a side menu, because they only really need to be activated once and you’re done with them.

It’s not terrible, but it’s a shame that it’s just…okay, since Identity Guard had pretty much the perfect dashboard, and it was the standard I used to compare other services against. 

A quick look at what I mean, for reference:

Identity Guard dashboard

A cleaner layout, more relevant information, and the features on display on the first page are ones you are more often going to need or want quick access to.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here in spades. Identity Guard’s dashboard layout was as far from “broke” as you could possibly get, to boot. This is a very sad step back in terms of website layout in my opinion.

Monitoring and Alerts: Winner – Tie

Thankfully, Aura is still hard hitting where it counts.

Within about 30 minutes of putting in the test information, it had populated the list of alerts. This is actually a bit slower than my experience with Identity Guard, but that could be due to any number of factors, and ultimately isn’t really an issue since the effective difference between 5 minutes and 30, or even an hour, is pretty much inconsequential for alerts like this.

All of the alerts are accurate, and give enough detail to do something about it if you click on them. It’s also easy to navigate to the alerts page and get back to where you need to be if you want to view ones you’ve already seen.

And, of course, the breadth of monitoring is still there, with all of the features you’d expect:

  • Dark web and data breach monitoring
  • Payday loan monitoring
  • Social security number monitoring
  • Bank account monitoring
  • Sex offender and criminal registry monitoring
  • USPS address change monitoring
  • Social media insights
  • 401(k) and investment monitoring
  • Home title monitoring

These are what are included in the Ultra package, for the record, though much of it, save the home title and 401(k) and investment monitoring are included in the Value and Total packages as well.

I can’t really think of anything Aura could do better, as it’s pretty much a carbon copy of Identity Guard in this regard. And for the record, that’s the highest praise I can give for its monitoring. As you might expect I don’t have anything to mention about Identity Guard specifically either, since they are exactly the same in both breadth and performance.

Threat Resolution Services: Winner – Aura

Here we hit the first place where Aura blows Identity Guard out of the water. One of my biggest complaints with Identity Guard was always that they had limited hours for their customer service. They were good hours, running from 8 AM to 11 PM (EST) on weekdays, and 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays. However, those hours are limited, and the lack of availability on Sundays could sometimes be a pain.

Aura solves that problem completely, offering 24/7/365 customer support, meaning you can reach them any time of the day or night to get a competent, friendly customer service agent on your case. 

I presume, though am not entirely sure, that the same general rule applies for Aura as Identity Guard: they tend to retain their customer support representatives a bit longer than the industry average (about 7 years), so the average level of experience and knowledge is much higher than among competitors.

In addition, they of course offer the same secondary options, like wallet restoration, to help ensure you can quickly and easily cancel and reorder credit cards and whatnot.

I’m very impressed with this upgrade to their customer service. Do note, that this DOES only seem to apply to their Ultimate plan members…but that shouldn’t be an issue, as we’ll get into later.

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Insurance: Winner – Tie

The insurance plan here is largely identical between these two services. No muss, no fuss, $1 million in insurance for both lost funds and expenses, separately.

The main difference I can find in their insurance policy is the addition of extra benefits for the Executive insurance plan (included with the Ultimate membership), which covers up to $5 million in lost funds for Executive members, per individual on the plan. So if you have a Family plan with the Ultra package, and both you and your spouse lose $5 million in assets apiece, it will be covered!

A niche benefit, but nice to have. Otherwise…this is as good as insurance gets on the market, for both services.

Additional Services: Winner – Aura

There is a wide gulf of difference here between Aura and Identity Guard. Where Identity Guard had pretty much nothing in the realm of additional services, Aura has plenty.

Much like LifeLock, Aura offers a VPN service and antivirus plan bundled into their membership packages. This gives you more general protection than you’d have otherwise, and these are nice services to have for free, essentially.

I don’t think either service is the best on the market, but having any kind of VPN or antivirus is better than nothing, and having a “free” antivirus is usually good enough to obviate the need to pay for a more expensive one.

Cost: Winner – Aura

I like how Aura has really streamlined the pricing here, to make it look a lot cleaner on the page (and be a bit easier to estimate yearly cost at a glance).

You’re looking at:

Quick Cost Comparison:

Value
Total
Ultra
Price
Month to Month (Individual)
Value
$9.00 /month
$108.00/year
Total
$16.00 /month
$192.00/year
Ultra
$24.00 /month
$288.00/year
Annual(Individual)
Value
$7.00 /month
$84.00/year
Total
$13.00 /month
$156.00/year
Ultra
$20.00 /month
$240.00/year
Month to Month (Family Plan)
Value
$15.00 /month
$180.00/year
Total
$22.00 /month
$264.00/year
Ultra
$30.00 /month
$360.00/year
Annual (Family Plan)
Value
$12.00 /month
$144.00/year
Total
$18.00 /month
$216.00/year
Ultra
$25.00 /month
$300.00/year
Value
Total
Ultra
Price
Individual Monthly
Value
$7.20 /month
$86.40/year
Total
$15.99 /month
$191.88/year
Ultra
$23.99 /month
Individual Annual
Value
$6.67 /month
$80.04/year
Total
$15.99 /month
$159.96/year
Ultra
$20.00 /month
Family Monthly
Value
$11.99 /month
$143.88/year
Total
$23.99 /month
$287.88/year
Ultra
$31.99 /month
Family Annual
Value
$10.00 /month
$120.00/year
Total
$20.00 /month
$240.00/year
Ultra
$26.67 /month

As you can probably tell, the prices here are close to identical, except at the Value plan; presumably because of the addition of the VPN and antivirus making it so they have to hike the price of their lowest plan. But otherwise, there’s only the rounding of a cent here to make the biggest difference. Family plans are cheaper for Aura at the Total and Ultra plan levels as well, leaving little reason to go with Identity Guard over Aura.

This, likewise, is probably the intent. Aura seems intended as a complete replacement for Identity Guard in every way, so it’s aggressively priced to make sure it can bring people in.

Oh, and it’s important to note: the Value and Total plans remain a less than ideal value for most users, though the Value plan is an interesting one for Aura since you at least get the VPN and antivirus along with the subpar monitoring.

Finally, an extra bit of temptation to use Aura comes in the fact that it has a 2 week free trial, and a 60-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like it. Only 2 weeks on the trial is a bit stingy compared to other services out there, but it’s a lot better than nothing.

Conclusion: Winner – Aura

The two services, unsurprisingly, compare very well to each other. Equally unsurprisingly, Aura wins out in every category except ease of use. I’m honestly kind of surprised that they haven’t phased out Identity Guard entirely, and given existing customers a free upgrade or something, because that’s essentially what Aura is: an upgrade over Identity Guard. It has the same great monitoring, more features, more breadth in the insurance, and a similar (and in some places cheaper!) pricing structure.

There’s really no reason to stick with Identity Guard over Aura, and that’s impressive. Identity Guard was already my favorite identity theft protection service, so having something out there that is just “Identity Guard, but better” is very nice.

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